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moving a newly caught swarm

 
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johndk
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Joined: 07 Jul 2018
Posts: 6
Location: United States/Maine/York/Arundel

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 11:36 am    Post subject: moving a newly caught swarm Reply with quote

This is a proactive question.

I have recently been blessed with a feral swarm setting up housekeeping in one of my old trees. I plan to set up a swarm trap next spring using a 7 frame Layens format to be ready if they produce a new swarm. The trap will be located about 200 - 300 meters from my wild colony and will need to be moved eventually.

I'm trying to avoid having to move the trap several km off site before I place it back at my place where I want to establish the hive (which will be a 14 frame Layens).

I realize I can't just move the trap to a new position after the new swarm has moved in. I'm using the larger Layens format so that the new swarm can potentially build up and use it at the trapped location through winter. Here's the question: If they overwinter in the trap, can I move that trap during the winter months directly to the desired location (which is only about 400 m away)? Or do I still have to do the km+ re-orientation move?
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
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Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi and welcome

Firstly, just want to make you aware that your terminology is slightly adrift which can cause confusion, particularly when talking about a feral colony. A bait hive is what you are meaning.... something to lure a natural swarm emerging from the tree colony to take up residence in. A trap is where you trap a feral colony out of a tree or similar cavity they have chosen, meaning they have no choice over the matter and are to be removed in their entirety from the location they have chosen. For instance I am currently trapping a colony out of a farm house wall at the moment. The wall will be sealed up once the procedure is complete.... normally takes about 6 weeks.

It is perfectly possible to move a bait hive a short distance as soon as it has been occupied by a swarm. The key is to move them overnight and block the entrance for a day to make them re-orientate to the new location. You can place the bait hive with the swarm into a cool dark location like a cellar for that day which helps them to cluster tight and not want to leave or overheat and then move them to the new location the next day and release. You should see the bees start to orientate to the new location. Putting a few branches with foliage across the entrance so that they have to crawl through to get out will help trigger them to take notice that things have changed.... a bit like a fallen tree or branch that their nest was in prior to it falling.
You can also move it in a similar fashion a few days after swarming and use the foliage across the entrance but don't confine for a day as they may have started raising brood if it is a prime swarm and not have enough stores to support it during their confinement. You may get some drift of bees back to the old site and you can potentially put a box or hive there to collect them or they will most likely drift back to the parent colony in the tree. It should be slight though and not significantly impact the swarm.

I am not familiar with the Layens hive. Was there something in particular that attracted you to it? .... now dashing off to do some research on it!

Regards

Barbara
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
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Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As an afterthought, I would also recommend you bait your main hive to attract the swarm as well. The distance is not prohibitive and having a choice of 2 gives you better odds.... 3 or 4 better still. The bait hive does not have to be a particular size or shape or even contain frames if you are going to check them daily and move them immediately. If they are made of new/ ish timber, being lightly scorched with a blow torch and rubbed with beeswax and scorched again so the wood sucks the wax into it, will help and primed with a bit of old brood comb will certainly make them more attractive to a swarm if you can source some from a local beekeeper.
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johndk
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Joined: 07 Jul 2018
Posts: 6
Location: United States/Maine/York/Arundel

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the terminology correction. I'm still getting used to all of the proper vocabulary.

I selected the Layens format because (reportedly) it is a low maintenance, 'natural' hive which does well with very cold winters. I was originally looking at Perone, but that would not be legal here (no movable frames for inspection) and is also more suited for warmer climates. Layens is a deep horizontal.

My bait hive is essentially a small Layens which will be suitable for initial buildup. Then the frames of the bait hive can be transferred to the larger permanent hive.
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Barbara
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds a bit like a Dartington hive. I would recommend that you use starter strips in the frames rather than full sheets of foundation. The bees can then build comb with a cell size that suits them rather than being restricted by the uniform foundation size.

Hopefully you understood my suggestions for moving the swarm. No reason why they need to stay in the bait hive and you may find that freeing it up by transferring them straight to the main hive, allows you to capture a secondary (cast) swarm (approx.10 days after the prime swarm) and over winter that in the bait hive so you have 2 colonies if you are lucky.

Does the Layens hive have a follower (or dummy board) that you can reduce the volume of the hive during the initial build up period? If not it would be simple to make one I imagine.
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johndk
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Joined: 07 Jul 2018
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Location: United States/Maine/York/Arundel

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Getting back to moving... Forgive me, but all of my knowledge so far is research based, not actual experience. So I have read that if the newly trapped swarm is moved more than 10m or so, that they will go back to the original location and hang out there instead of the new location.

You're saying this is not so much a problem if one takes care to trigger reorientation with the leafy branch trick at the entrance. That would certainly simplify things.

I saw some pictures somewhere (I think in this forum), but can't find them again. It showed a yellow triangle with a green dot in the center placed next to the entrance. I'm assuming this was a landmark of some sort to help the bees locate their new hive. Is this a valid aid? And would it help in my plan?

And yes, I'll be using one of the various baiting techniques. I've read about using old comb, lemongrass oil, propolis, and now scorch & wax. I'm beginning to think that luck has a lot to do with success as well.
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johndk
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Joined: 07 Jul 2018
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Location: United States/Maine/York/Arundel

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 5:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i'm building all of my own equipment because I like woodworking and am 'furniture grade' good at it. So when I build the frames I'll be adding a thin strip on the top bar. I believe that's sometime called a popsicle stick starter. I wasn't planning on using a wax starter, but may change my mind on that. But definitely no foundation.
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Barbara
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds good as regards wood starter strips rather than foundation. It is best to rub them with bees wax still. You can use a thin wooden strip like a popsicle stick or paint stirrer or a triangular profile strip or a bamboo skewer dipped in beeswax and welded to the frame with the beeswax. The important thing is to have a defined line to encourage them to work along the frame.

The coloured symbols will help them to transition from the bait hive to the main hive if one is on top of the other or next to it, but they navigate by the sun until they get into a visual range and then orientate to the entrance by sight... hence the coloured shapes and symbols. This is why they do orientation flights before they leave the hive which are essentially ever increasing circles facing the hive to get a visual imprint. The branches across the hive entrance are to trigger them to take notice because things have changed. Placing the symbol at the new site might prevent them from re-orientating because the visual clue says this is still home so they head off to forage and then return via the sun to the old location and can't find home. You need a complete reprogram once you have moved them a longer distance. This will work best if they have not been at the bait hive site long and only a few bees have orientated to it.... flying there as a swarm does not constitute being orientated to it, so the majority of the bees in a new swarm will not really be aware of the swarm's new home location and will probably return to the parent colony if they get lost.

Only a small percentage of a newly hived swarm actually leave the hive to forage. The majority cluster to produce heat to enable wax production and comb building, so you may lose a few if you move the swarm more than 10 meters but if you block them in for a day in those early stages (like a day or two after swarming) and then cover the entrance with foliage, that small proportion should re-orientate and you lose none. You can watch and see them doing it..... flying backwards in front of the hive. Once new foragers are released from the cluster when comb building is making progress, they too start to make orientation flights before heading off to forage, just like baby bees that have never left the hive before.

Apologies if this is not as coherent as it might be. For some unknown reason (hick!) I am struggling to arrange my thought's logically this evening. Wink.... a rare occurrence for me!
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johndk
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Joined: 07 Jul 2018
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Location: United States/Maine/York/Arundel

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2018 8:14 pm    Post subject: http://horizontalhive.com/how-to-build/hive-frame-swarm-trap Reply with quote

Thanks so much for your thoughts and observations. They all seem very clear to me ... which might be a problem if you think they may not have been?

I did notice the 'new swarm behavior' you describe with the feral swarm that moved into my tree. It was the first swarm I had ever seen (so exciting!).
I left the swarm and returned about 15 min later. It was gone. I thought it had gone elsewhere. I kept searching for them and after a couple of days, I discovered them right where I had left them but in hole in my tree, WELL HIDDEN. They didn't seem to be doing much except guarding the entrance. Now I'm seeing increasing numbers of foragers coming and going. So it seems Mother Nature is conducting things according to plan.
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