Thursday, May 1, 2014
Another Wintery Day Makes for Good Bee Work
Another day of extended Winter again today. I don't think it got above 49 or maybe 50 degrees all day and of course it had to mist and spit rain again as usual. Generally another crappy day not much good for getting anything done except......
It was a good day to work around the bee hives.
I mowed, I ran the weed eater.
It was also a good day to check each swarm trap and clean out any unwanted creepy crawlies that had moved in.
Every trap had a wasp of some type building a nest in it. It was cold enough they couldn't move well so they all got the boot heel. One trap had a small birds nest in it but no ants moving into any of the traps that I saw. Apparently the tanglefoot stuff is doing it's job.
I then went over to the next cut out/feral hive problem I am dealing with. A hive has moved into the walls of a house through a small hole that had been chewed between two pieces of siding. I wedged some wood shims into the gap to make the whole area flush and then capped the entire thing with one of the PVC fixtures you see above. I had to drill two holes in it and screw the thing to the siding but the owner said that was fine. I then inserted a six inch or so section of PVC pipe into the hole making a little tunnel the bees can now use to come and go through as their new entrance. Since they weren't flying much today they will get used to it tomorrow when they come out.
For step two I will drill a hole the same size as the PVC pipe tunnel into a brood chamber box and as soon as I have some spare eggs from one of my hives I will slide the box over the tunnel and start making the bees come and go through the new hive. The spare frame of eggs will also act as an attractant to the nurse bees inside the walls and hopefully get the queen to move into the box and begin laying. Once I see she is laying in one of the frames I will put a reducer on the tunnel thereby locking her out of the wall cavity and containing her in the hive box.
This will take some time but if I get it right within a few months there will be no brood left in the wall and I can simply take the hive away and seal up the entrance. This could cause other vermin to move into the wall after the honey that remains but should save the bees. That's what the home owner wants to try, my guess is they are hoping to avoid any cut out and rebuilding costs to the wall and siding.
It might work... It might not. There aren't any electrical lines running through that section of the wall so they are willing to take the risk.
If the queen does move out and I know enough time has passed that there are no viable eggs or larva left inside the wall all I have to do is remove the hive and plug up the entrance hole. Any bees left inside will die and they won't be able to make a new queen because they have no eggs.
The one thing that could upset this cycle is if the colony swarms and the newly mated queen is thin enough to get through the excluder screen I will place on the tunnel that leads into the wall. If it doesn't work no harm done though and we can always go back to plan B and do a complete cut out.
I have a feeling that feral colony has been in that wall a while. In fact it is close to my outter bee yards and I am pretty sure some of the swarms I caught a few years ago came from this colony. At least one swarm in particular came from that direction when it entered one of my traps I was lucky enough to see happening. Then again maybe this colony is a swarm from one of my hives. Either way it is good practice for me and since they are neighbors I am willing to help so no one starts blaming my bees.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!