Monday, October 7, 2013
Survival Bee Keeping - Finding the Bees
Late this morning as I was seriously thinking about a nice long nap when a neighbor comes screeching into the driveway. She rattled off a bunch of gibberish but I caught the words cable and bees a couple of times in the mess of non-words.
When I finally got her settled down enough to understand her the story I got was that they were installing some new coupling on her satellite dish cable and the installer lady had discovered it was right next to a hive of bees that had taken up residence behind the siding on their house. The installer was deathly allergic to bees and they asked if I could come help.
Oh what the hell, not like I get any naps these days anyway.
So I grab my suit and veil and gloves and head down there and sure enough there was what I estimate to be a pretty good sized number of bees coming and going from a quarter inch or so sized hole on the side of the house. Right next to it was the splitter box for their satellite TV as well.
I just put my veil on and didn't bother with the suit and gloves. Not like I could have installed the new little switch box with those gloves on anyway. Standing on the ladder my face was right at eye level with the entrance and the foragers coming back in were slamming into the back of my head as I worked but none of the bees came out and acted aggressively by flying towards my face or anything.
There was a lot of activity so I would say that hive has been there a while. The foragers were not bringing in pollen like the new hives are still doing this year and I can't imagine any of last years feral swarms surviving last Winter so I am betting that hive has been there a few years. It is possible one of this years swarms could have built up to the numbers I saw by now, but with very little pollen coming in I doubt it. Even the hives I fed all Summer are still bringing in pollen like crazy.
After explaining the options available to my neighbors, which consists of tearing the siding off and cleaning out the bees or blocking up the entrance and hoping the bees don't find another one (Which maybe inside the house somewhere). They decided to let the girls be for this Winter and let me try and trap em out come Spring. Anything I try and do at this time of year is sure to kill off the colony but by letting them stay in there they are taking a risk depending on what is around inside that part of the wall. It could start an electrical fire if there is a splice box or something in there for the honey to drip down into.
While bees inside walls are a pain for the home owner they are actually one of the best places to capture feral bees in a collapse situation. Much easier to tear the siding off a building and remove a colony of bees if you suddenly found yourself without, than to walk around in the woods and find a colony in a tree. I have never seen bees in the proverbial hollow log either, they are always in a tree cavity well off the ground. Of course I have found more feral colonies in buildings than any where else but that is more than likely because the ones out in the trees are not distressing to the land owner like having a colony in your walls, so they don't get noticed as much.
Still if I found myself suddenly without bees in a collapse situation abandoned houses would be the first place I would look to begin to resupply myself with bees. Setting traps for their swarms or even tearing the siding off and placing the bees in a new box would be possible. You can even build a special hive that fits in front of the entrance, usually attached to the wall or on stilts. This hive will then let the foragers out but they cannot get all the way back in. If you take a few frames of drawn comb and place it in the false entrance hive the foragers will begin treating the new box as home. In many cases the queen will sometimes come out and begin laying in the new addition as well. It takes months but I have seen it successfully used to remove a colony before.
After the bees are removed you fill up the hole to block any new swarms from finding and using the cavity as a home.
Walla instant established hive.
You can also place a hive near the feral colony and make a sort of tunnel out of wire mesh that forces the bees to exit next to the established hive. The wire mesh shaped like a long cone makes it impossible for the bees to re-enter the walls so they will end up joining the new hive. Of course this can take years to kill off the hive inside the wall depending on how much honey they have stored and how old the queen is in there. Eventually as the feral colony looses it's foragers it starves. Eventually.
I have also seen trap outs done where anyone would have swore the feral colony was dead only to see it crop back up a few months later coming out into the house.
Regardless finding and trapping bees could be a needed skill in a collapse situation.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!