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Cut out - Possum box, what next?


#1

Hi All
Advice required, I purchased a flow hive February this year, but due to lack of nucs at that time and travelling during September and October (Southern Hemisphere Spring) it has been residing in the shed. I had placed a nuc box on my shed roof in an attempt to catch a swarm over spring, but no luck.
Received a call from daughter-in-laws father that a swarm had moved into a possum box in a tree in his front yard in October, would I like to remove it? Free bees yes please.

So last night, I suited up and removed possum box at dusk, after placing wire mesh over entrance, and transported home in a cardboard box (some bees emerging from gaps in floor and side).

This morning I was going to attempt a cut out but its raining today and 20 deg Celsius, better tomorrow for an attempt. But what do I do now? I have tilted back the hive to mimic the angle of hive in tree, which has let some of the bees exit the hive through gaps in floor. The mesh over original entrance remains, do I remove it and let them settle for a couple of days or remove tilt and seal up hive (photos show what I mean.)

Also any advice on transferring the comb to hive using the rubber band method when the time comes?
Do I feed once transferred?
Any other advice welcomed, thanks in advance.


#2


#3

Yes remove the mesh. Let them get settled, before doing the rubber band technique. Only try to keep the worker comb. If there is lots of honey coming in, I wouldn’t attempt to rubber band any honey. You can use that yourself, via crush & strain. If you give the bees plenty of smoke, they will fill their bellies with honey, enough to keep them going. Then if you do it early morning, the foraging bees will bring more in during that day.


#4

Thanks @JeffH will remove mesh now, weather looks a bit dodgy next couple days, will wait for weekend to open up possum box.


#5

Use the rubber bands around the top and bottom bar. Be sure to have the new hive perfectly level so the bees build nice vertical comb. Handle the comb gently as it’s very delicate.

We did this last season and now those combs all look perfect- you’d never know they were messy to start with😎


#6

Try to band the comb into the frames the same way up as it was in the possum box. Comb cells have a slight slope on them (down towards the centre of the comb) and if you put them in upside down, unripe honey will leak out. The bees will not correct the angle over time, unless the comb gets damaged and needs rebuilding.

I would also not bother with banding small bits of comb. They are too much effort and unstable between the bands, increasing the risk of crazy comb-building. Either freeze and render them when you have enough, or throw them out if you are not interested in the wax. Don’t drop them on the ground outside - SHB and wax moths consider them a free feast.

If you want to make the comb more stable, you could consider wiring the frame. You can gently push the comb onto the wires, then band it in place. You will kill any larvae that are across the wires, but the bees will re-use the protein and repair the cells. The advantage of wiring is that it makes the comb very much more stable for inspections, which is very helpful when you are new to beekeeping.

I would leave them for a week or two, then inspect. If they are fixing the comb and building new, plus bringing in pollen and honey, I would not feed them at this point. If the comb looks relatively unchanged, or it has fallen out because they chewed the bands off without fixing the comb to the frame, I would definitely feed them.


#7

Thanks @Semaphore @Dawn_SD for the rubber band advice.
As for feeding I will do as Dawn suggests, but only a couple of hours after opening mesh covering entrance yesterday, they were bringing in pollen, amazing. I thought they would take longer to get their bearings. There is a lot of Jacaranda trees flowering nearby.


#8

really? I didn’t know that. Do they feed the corpses to other larvae :neutral_face:

@liteceeper this is odd also- I got a call last week from a lady who had a swarm move into her possum box in adelaide. I never knew people kept possum boxes before this week. I have a possum living in my yard somewhere and last year it ate every single grape off all my many grape vines… I hav’nt seen it for months now- and the grapes are coming along well this year- I hope he has moved away…


#9

@semaphore apparently the possum box was installed to try keep a possum from residing in the roof of house. No luck with the possum I believe its still in roof, they previously had two swarms removed from chimney so I guess its a dual lure, first in best dressed. I am returning the box to the tree for next years swarms or possum pie (kidding) .:slight_smile:


#10

If they are healthy, I think they eat them themselves if they need the protein. They do the same with eggs if the queen lays too many. :wink:


#11

Update on cut out, and is this signs of robbing or repair work?

On Saturday at midday, I set up an tarpaulin on the lawn about 13 metres from hive position, transferred possum box and flow hive to there. Next I placed a nuc box at hive site for foragers returning (I put some timber and wax from possum box in nuc box when I opened the possum box up.)

Opening side of possum box exposed lots of comb, built at 45 degree angle to box and it extended to floor, approx 400mm at the centre. I cut out all the comb and placed in frames with rubber bands, filling 7 of the 8 frames approx 3/4 full.

As the comb was so long it required cutting in three sections, completely messing up the brood, although I kept the order of the combs as removed, shaking remaining bees into new hive once possum box empty. I must have got the queen (did not look for her) as they all remained in flow hive. Sorry no photos of cut out operation, wife remained in patio with all screens closed. I got away with no strings so pretty happy with that.

Removed nuc from stand and placed flow hive in old possum box position, draped a tarp down to the ground and left nuc and possum box in front of hive for stragglers, hour later every one in the flow hive.

Plan to leave hive until next Saturday to see how repairs progressing. But I have seen a lot of activity and thought the hive may be getting robbed. So pulled out SBB and found rows of wax pieces looking like bread crumbs on board.

I closed entrance and checked this morning, a couple of hours after sunrise and no bees at hive (bar one) does this mean no robbers and just bees tearing down and repairing hive?

I will make a robber screen today but in the mean time do I open entrance up?


#12

If the entrance is totally closed, yes I would. They need at least 5 cm width, especially for ventilation. Don’t cook them! :blush:

The flakes look like wax cappings. They could be from honey, or from emerging or damaged brood. I wouldn’t worry about it too much, unless there is obvious robbing.

Open the entrance a little (5 cm) and see whether there are bees fighting (they wrestle and roll around trying to bite and sting each other). If not, you are fine.

Meanwhile congratulations, sounds like you did a great job! :wink:


#13

@Dawn_SD thanks for the congrats, I have opened the entrance and will keep an eye on them today. I think they are a very healthy hive, the combs were beautiful straight and perfectly lined up at 45 degrees in the possum box. I had the bottom board pulled out a couple of inches so I didn’t suffocate them.

I made a slatted bottom rack yesterday and will install Saturday, as we are heading into our hot summer period, thinking of a hive mat also.


#14

totally what’s you’d expect to see all those crumbs from the bees cleaning up the combs- correcting the bee-space, etc.