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Trap out- brand new beekeeper

Hello!

Brand new beekeeper here, as of 2 months ago. And, I’m right in the deep end of beekeeping. My hive split, and half the hive moved into our (people) house about 3 days ago. I was researching how to do a trap out, and just put up the funnel last night after a few days of blocking other holes and making them use one entrance (into our house). I put the empty nuc box with frames, sugar water feeder, and even a little pollen patty right next to the end of the funnel and they have been going in and out of the box. I do not think I have brood to give this hive, so worry that it may not lure them in. I’m willing to buy another queen if I’m successful in getting most out.

My existing hive, that lives in their beehive, has some capped brood cells and had some queen cells that appear to have hatched. If I do have a new queen in that hive, she isn’t laying yet, so I do worry about that hive too. I plan on looking for her again tomorrow. Currently the population is pretty good in that hive, but I know that can change fast. I’ve been talking with the local beekeeper that I purchased the nuc from on what to do with them.

Any input is welcome! I’ve been trying to educate myself as much as possible, and would love to hear from others.

Thanks!

Welcome Ginny to the forum. Being a new beekeeper is a very exciting time, and can be unsettling when these sorts of things happen early in your beekeeping experience. However, you are going to master this situation and that will help you be ready for all the future learning opportunities too. Take a deep breath :slight_smile:

Let’s divide your note into two parts, the original hive and the swarm that left your hive because each of those are big enough topics alone.

Original hive: When swarms leave a colony behind they take 60% (roughly) of the bees with them and none of the nurse bees (they aren’t old enough to fly). They eat a bunch of honey before leaving so they have food to sustain the leaving colony until new comb and resources are secured. So we need more data about the original hive’s condition— if you can take pictures of the frames and post them that would be best. In fact getting into the habit of taking photos of your inspections is often really helpful so that you can look them over inside your house when things aren’t as buzzing busy and spot things you may miss in the heat of the inspection. It would be unusual for a queen to leave with no recently laid eggs in cells or a queen (or a few of them) cells left behind so the original colony can survive. As a new beekeeper it is easy to not recognize the eggs because they are so tiny, which is where a photo looking into the cells directly can be really helpful. Also, do you know what a queen cell looks like to know if you have one?

Next, the new location. I’m a bit worried for you because if the original queen has moved into a spot inside a wall you definitely want to get that opened up and find her as soon as possible or the bees will be building comb and storing honey and laying brood very quickly and that can be a nightmare for you later. I would prioritize this effort over checking on the original hive to be honest as the queen has the ability to lay 3000 eggs a day if there is comb built up fast enough for her. And that is what that new split colony intends to do! If you have any larvae in the original hive on a frame I’d be super tempted to pull that one frame (as long as you have more of them) and put it in your nuc that you’ve setup to attract the bees into that box if the sugar resource isn’t working. Again, the best option in my opinion is to open the cavity and locate the queen but I realize that can be a bigger job for most of us. If you have anyone that is more experienced than you with beekeeping in your local bee club you should make that call so that you learn on the job and have the aid of that experience. Trap outs/cut outs are very involved. Sounds like you have done some good preliminary things but I doubt you will coax the queen out the way you hope but I could be mistaken.

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Thanks this is very helpful. I’ll try and get some photos tomorrow and post of both situations. I like the idea of taking photos of the frames, I still am nervous going into the hive and trying to figure out what is what. I try and look things up a lot to compare, but the mind can play tricks trying to remember accurately. Photos would definitely help. The one thing I do feel fairly confident in is that I had queen cells, they were that odd distinct shape on the bottom of several frames. However, I could always be wrong, and I do not know how successful they were.

I am nervous about the house situation, but also am nervous about the current virus situation and having a lot of people over for a cut out and patch up to be quite honest. I’ll look through my frames and see if I have one with brood I could add to my trap-out box. I know I have 5 frames full with honey, some with what I think have capped brood also. I only have one hive (not counting our house), that was made by a very well established nuc this April.

I also didn’t see any activity at the house entrance until a few days ago, it is an area that I frequent and I would have noticed, the spigot to water the garden is right next to the entrance! I know for a fact I was there the day before and no activity, once I saw it I immediately started addressing it. Plus I didn’t add this earlier, but a lot of bees had come into our living room via a small hole in the floor from the basement about the same time I noticed the activity at the entrance. I’ve been working from home and our house is fairly small so I would have definitely noticed bees in the house. It seemed like they were exploring the whole “cavity” they just decided to take up residence in?

Do you think a swarm bait would help? Or would that potentially make the problem worse?

Thanks so much! I’ll try and get those photos up.

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I hear you about Covid; nothing good is happening with that but I think it is possible to have someone do the trap/cut out and you stand 10 feet away from them and it all work out. But I’m not a healthcare professional so what do I know! I just don’t want the bees to nest in your house and create a bigger cutout to repair later.

Bees do love a fresh water source so I’m not surprised they like that spot. Swarm bait won’t really work in this case since the existing queens pheromones are filling the space and keeping her offspring loyal. Bait works when there is no queen. Using it may actually attract other bees and then they could follow into the house where the live queen’s smell is more potent and then you have twice as many bees in there!

One of the things you could do is use an endoscope tool to look into the cavity and figure out how far into the wall they are— maybe they aren’t that far in and so this is easier than we are both thinking? I got one that works with my iPhone off Amazon (pre covid shipping issues) but you may find them at some other electronics store. Mine was under 100.00 and has a light on the end so I can see into small spaces. The field of vision is small, but its better than pulling walls down when you aren’t sure where they might be. Flir has a thermal hand held that will tell you hot spots in the wall— maybe someone you know has one (like a plumber) to borrow or someone in the beekeeping local group in your area?

Photos of your frames are super helpful. I’m attaching one of what a queen cell looks like on the face of the comb mid way in the frame. When cells for queens are on the bottom of a frame that is usually a swarm cell queen (which makes sense based on what you described happened).

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Welcome to the forum Ginny, there is lots of experienced bee keepers her happy to pass on tips and advice.
Tim has covered it well and I will only add to wha0t Tim has already said, DON’T USE A BAIT to lure them out.
Concentrate on the swarm in the house and if you can get a member of your local bee group involved so much the better.
The bees in the house will be already settling in and making comb and the longer they are there the worse and more expensive it will get.
When you get this issue sorted out join your local bee group and soak up all the information you can get, especially about swarm control and how to do a preemptive swarm split.
Now for the bad news — if you don’t find where the bees got into the house this time and seal it up, and the colony in the hive swarms again odds are a new swarm will head for the house because or the pheromones left there by the present bees.
Here in my climate I do preemptive swarm splits four or five times over a year to each hive, I’m lucky that there is so many people wanting to buy a hive of bees.
Cheers

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Thanks all, I’m glad I asked about the bait! I will definitely not use it. I’ll get those photos up later today!

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Same frame, I think showing pollen. I had originally hoped for capped brood

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another frame, sorry since I am a new user it will only allow me to upload one picture per post.

I was thinking those were queen cells at the bottom of the frame. Several frames had at least 3 each

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Well your bees are certainly doing their job of storing nectar! I think you are right about queen cells on the bottom of those frames. Is every frame filled with nectar like these ones? That might be why the hive swarmed being honey bound— have to add another box and I would put it under the existing one if its all honey without a queen excluder so the new emerging queen will have somewhere to lay when washed returns from mating flight.

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Okay- I just added another super, they didn’t like it on the bottom at first, but they seemed to have settled down more now.

Every frame they came with is like that (5 frames). I made error number one by using plastic frames and they did not like that! I did not coat with wax, and I think in their minds it was a wall so they ran out of space. I put wood frames in now. They have been making burr comb on the tops and the plastic frames.

One more edit. When I was in my hive I am fairly certain I hear the queen piping noise. It seems pretty distinct, anything else that I could mistake it for?

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Hey Ginny,

I just want to confirm what size boxes you have; are these Flow Hives or other? I ask because you threw me with “every frame they came with is like that (5 frames)” and so I’m wondering if you kept them in a 5 frame Nuc, or if you put them into a 10 frame deep box or maybe an 8 frame deep. I’m going to assume you have a 10 frame; If all your frames are honey/nectar full other than the queen cells then normally I would reverse the boxes since honey belongs up top and brood down below. That being said if you heard piping, which is distinct, you likely have a queen that has emerged from her cell and that is the sound she makes while she locates the other queen cells to sting them / call any other emerged queen to fight. In that case I would not touch the hives for 10 days— an emerged queen isn’t yet mature sexually and her exoskeleton isn’t hardened for 4 or 5 days so you don’t want to disturb the hive and risk her getting damaged at all. In 4 or 5 days she is due to fly out on a mating flight and then return, so really I wouldn’t switch the boxes until day 10 from today and by then you should see new comb built.

Each beekeeper has stories about plastic frames vs wood, waxed vs not. I’ve used them all and the bees will use whatever is available when they need to. I try to use foundationless wood in the brood boxes for the most part, but I use plastic frames in the super (not the flow super) for my other hives. I double brood boxed my deeps for a time but found they were unruly colonies at that size so I don’t like to do that unless I have to (e.g., combining a weaker hive to rebuild numbers).

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Sorry I was unclear! I bought a 5 frame nuc this April, and put into a 10 frame Langstroth deep the next day. Initially I started with all-in-one plastic frames and foundations with no wax, but I just changed them out and put foundationless wood frames into the supers, and painted a tiny bit of beeswax along the wedge on the top, hoping to promote comb forming.

I did end up putting the empty super on the bottom, hopefully it will work out. I wish I took a little video of when I heard the possibly piping noise, it would have been good to confirm against wishful thinking, but I feel fairly confident that was it. So I should leave it alone for 10 days? If there is no queen what is too long to wait, if I need to obtain one? I seem to have a lot of bees as of now, given how young, and recently split it was, but I know that can decline soon.

On the trap out situation, my funnel is being used and the nuc box is being explored. However, I think the bees made a new hole under the shingles. Tonight, once the sun set and the bees quieted down, I did an extensive close-out, using double layered screen running it along the base of the shingles and filling the ends with steel wool. I’ll check it out tomorrow to see how it is holding up. The screen funnel does have debris in it, I think from the bees cleaning out their hive. I am wondering if I should attached the funnel to the nuc box, forcing them to go through the nuc box to get outside. I’ll try and get a photo tomorrow. It was too dark for one tonight.

Thanks again for all the advice- it is very helpful!

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This is what I worry about if you don’t get the bees out of your wall! Facebook - bees in a wall for 50 years

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Yikes!! Yeah, I definitely don’t want that!

Well good news, I think I got all the holes they were using, except the one with the funnel. They’ve been checking out the nuc box too. I have been spending time watching them a number of times through the day to see if they are getting back in and how they are behaving.

I’ve been leaving the other hive alone, but did watch it and saw drones flying. I got worried they were going to swarm again, but they have a lot of room so I don’t know why they would?

Drones do cleansing flights daily the same as worker bees do so seeing that is nothing to worry about.
The swarming instinct is natural and more often to happen in the Spring and coincide with a nectar flow happening.It can be prevented to a big degree from happening by doing an early Spring split of the colony so that I think they have swarmed.
Cheers

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