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Caught a swarm in a wine box; how do I transfer them to a flow hive?


#1

I never thought I’d be a beekeeper, but now I am… go figure :slight_smile:

Here’s my story:

So on Thursday, May 25th 2017, a swarm of bees decided to land on the sidewalk in front of my house.

I’d been reading about the importance of honey bees and the die offs in recent years, and couldn’t find the heart to kill them all. Yet I couldn’t leave them on the sidewalk either, as my kids could have been stung, so I did some research and decided to try and entice them into a pine wine box I had laying around with some sugar water.

I came back to check a few hours later, and most of them decided to move into the wine box! I swept up the remaining stragglers with a broom and dustpan and dumped them into the box with their friends. Not one sting!

Now on to my problem, and some questions for the user community:

The bees have been actively building inside the wine box for the last 7 days. They are massing in the top left hand corner of the box.

My Flowhive doesn’t arrive until tomorrow (Saturday, June 3rd, 2017).

  • When I get my Flowhive, what steps should I take to ensure that they’re moved over successfully?
  • Should I attempt to move whatever honeycomb they’ve already built into the new hive, or should I just move the bees/queen over?
    *The wine box beehive is currently in my front yard. I want to set up my Flowhive in my back yard, over 250 feet away. I’ve read that you shouldn’t move them once they’re familiar with an area, but I have little choice - they cannot remain in my front yard. Will this be OK, or are there any steps I need to take to make the transition smoother?
    *I read that swarm-captured bees may be of inferior genetic stock. I just spent a boatload of money on my Flowhive, and I don’t want to risk it with inferior bees. Should I order bees from a professional beekeeper to fill up my Flowhive, or should I take the chance with these bees? Is there any way to tell if these bees are bad/inferior, or carry any diseases such as AFB?
  • Is it true that I’ll have to burn my Flowhive if AFB is found? Even the Flow Super? How do you guys protect your investment from AFB?

#2

Hi Avi, I reckon moving them will be an issue as they have been out front for a while. A more experienced Forum member will advise as to that shortly hopefully, but I reckon you will have to move them a bit at a time or use a thick branch over the entrance of the Flow Hive. In relation to AFB, I think you would need to research the law in your area relating to AFB. Another Californian should be able to give some pointers for that too.


#3

With as small as that swarm is, I’m guessing it is an “after-swarm”, which is a swarm that issues after the primary swarm. After-swarms leave with a virgin queen. Once they move in to what they perceive as their new home (the wine box in this case), the queen will leave the hive and mate. This process can take a day or two. If you move the hive while she’s away on a mating flight, the hive will be hopelessly queen-less.

Also, have a pro help you if you are in an Africanized Honey-bee area. They might be nice now because they have nothing to defend.


#4

as others have noted it may not be advisable to move the hive immediately- as the queen may be out on mating flights- and the bees will be used to their current location and will get lost if the hive is moved. If you have a willing friend you could move the bees into the flow brood box and move the hive to your friends house for a few weeks before moving back to it’s final location where you want it. If you did that you would want to close the hive after dark, and move it then or first thing the next morning. That way the queen will be in the hive as she returns from her mating flights in the evening.

Swarms are not necessarily inferior bees- and can make great colonies- it’s just they are not as verified or certain as bees from a known source. This year my two most productive beehives were both swarms and neither had any diseases or issues. With a swarm you know that you have local bees acclimatized to your area.

Concerning AFB- you can treat the flow hive frames with radiation instead of burning- though it depends on what the rules are where you are and if you can readily access/afford a facility that does that. Also the hive itself can be hot wax dipped instead of being burnt- again depending on what the rules are where you are and if you can find someone who will do it for you.

Lastly: in that photo it looks like you are looking at the bees at night time- that can be a bit problematic as the bees can get irate if you inspect them at night.

Good Luck!


#5

Wow, you have lots of questions. The first thing you should do is find a mentor. I’d advise you to take your time getting the brood box ready & let the bees build comb in the wine box. After a couple of weeks you should have enough comb in the wine box to cut out & transfer into empty frames with rubber bands. Then you can put those frames into your brood box with fresh foundation in the remainder of the frames. Shake the bees out of the wine box into the brood box, then put the lid on. The remainder of the bees will go into the brood box as long as the queen is in there.

You can move the hive around to the back in short increments. One meter a day. I like to move a hive in reverse, so that the bees only have to fly a bit further to get to the entrance. Do this while the hive is fairly light.

On the subject of Afb, the mentor you find might have some ideas for you.


#6

June 9th Update:

I watched a bunch of videos and read a bunch of info online about hive relocation and bee reorientation, but the most helpful information I found was here: http://www.backyardhive.com/articles_on_beekeeping/moving_a_bee_hive_learning_how_bees_orientate/

Based on my reading, I decided to use the “reorientation” approach rather than the 2ft/2mile approach, and moved my bees approximately 250ft away to their new home.

I opened up the wine box on the evening of June 9th (~3 weeks after catching them) to find that they had formed 4 combs, 1 of which was brand new. I gently transferred these into my Flowhive’s brood chamber and held them in place as best as I could with rubber bands. I also put a few wax foundations in there to help them out a little. I put the queen excluder on top, the super, an open jar of honey,some 50/50 syrup, lid, and roof. I blocked the entrance with a bunch of leaves and twigs and they were able to find their way out by the next morning.

During the comb transfer, I wasn’t able to locate the queen due to the sun setting rapidly, and not wanting to disturb the delicate comb too much. I figure that she must be somewhere in there if the bees are all sticking around. I’ll make a solid attempt to find her once the hive is more established.

More pics to follow.


#7


#8


#9


#10

Back of hive


#11

Front of Hive. Wine box left open at front of hive for disoriented bees to hopefully figure it out.


#12

June 19th Update:

The temps here have reached 105°F / 40.56°C in the last few days and the bees have been crowding around the entrance, so I removed the entrance reducer. I also changed my corflute insert from the 1st position to the 2nd position to help with ventilation.

I opened up the hive today to check out the bees. Looks like they’re progressing slowly, but progressing nonetheless. They ate about 1/2 of the jar of honey as well as all of the 50/50 syrup. I have a garden waterfall about 20ft away from the hive, and have noticed that they are utilizing it as well. I refilled the syrup feeder and left the honey in place. They have produced more comb, but not a significant amount. I saw some brood cells in the comb, but I didn’t pull out any of the frames - I just visually inspected and made sure the combs weren’t falling apart due to the heat, and the rubber bands were doing their job. I took some pics for record.

I hope they’re on the right course and are able to build out more rapidly in the coming weeks. I’d appreciate any and all comments, criticism, or advice in any additional areas where I can improve. Thanks!


#13


#14


#15

Looks OK to me…


#16

I’ll stick my hand up & make one suggestion. Put the core flute back in the top spot. The heat coming in through the mesh will make it harder for the bees to cool the hive. I have one more suggestion. Start the bees off with frames containing properly fitted foundation.


#17

Hi @viras . I sure hope that feed honey has no AFB. Here in Australia it is advised not to feed store bought honey ever. Who advised you to feed honey?

Everything has been going so well for you, it would be devastating if the feeding of foreign honey would be your downfall.


#18

Thanks @JeffH - I’ll move it back to the top spot.

I found it difficult to get wax foundation quickly so I just stuck in a few random sheets that I had. Still learning. Thanks for the advice.


#19

Hi Avi, you are most welcome. cheers


#20

@Webclan - It’s local honey from an apiary about 3 miles away from my house that I put into a smaller store-bought jar that fits properly in the super.

In regards to who advised me to feed honey: My cousin owns an orchard with a few hundred acres of peaches, plums, pomegranates, walnuts, and almonds in Northern California. He works with a professional apiary that has about 300+ hives on his & his neighbor’s acreage to help pollinate their orchards. I spoke to one of the beekeepers there who advised that they feed their bees with a 50/50 (or sometimes 75/25 in the winter) sugar syrup mixture commercially, however honey would be ideal if it were commercially viable/less expensive. I asked him what I should do with my hobby apiary in my backyard and he said that honey is their natural food source, so if you can afford it, feed them local honey. He didn’t mention anything about AFB, although I didn’t really ask either. I’ll make sure to clarify next time I’m up there. In the mean time, I will remove the honey until I know more.