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[personal profile] doodlemaier posting in [community profile] bee_folk
an attempt to trap-out a colony of honeybees ensconced within a brick wall The idea behind the trap-out is to engineer a method by which foraging bees of a colony ensconced within a wall or other structure where their presence is unwelcome are able to exit their nest but aren't able to return. Within eight to ten weeks the economy of the feral colony is gradually interrupted to point where the ensconced queen will eventually cease egg-laying and vacate the occupied structure. In the mean time, the beekeeper provides an empty hive body that holds a frame of day-old eggs and is otherwise filled with drawn comb so that the returning foragers that are at that point "trapped-out" have a place to shelter and the motivation and means to rebuild via the frame of fresh (queen-worthy) eggs. The cone is fabricated from a piece of 1/8" mesh hardware cloth and installed over the original entrance by means of a makeshift flange. This is usually a piece of plywood drilled to allow the mesh cone to slip through the front and then be stapled and caulked on the back. The flange or adapter is then caulked or otherwise sealed around the edges so that bees aren't able to push their way back in through the original entrance. Because of the optical illusion of many, many holes created by the mesh cone and because of the force of habit to return the location of the original entrance the returning bees are unable to navigate their way back into their nest and are instead prompted by the smell of brood and eventually queen-rightness of the surrogate hive body. For this reason the "empty" hive body or bait box should be placed as close to the entrance of the ensconced colony as possible, preferably touching so that returning foragers can walk, and not fly, into the replacement hive.

On a recent visit to his parents my brother-in-law noticed the activity of this colony of bees at the top of an eight foot exterior brick wall right beneath the soffit of their split-level home in Colonial Heights, VA just outside of Richmond. Only a couple days after he and I had installed this boondoggle in front of the house he reported that the bees had already pushed a hole through the thick layer of caulk I sealed the edge of the 2x4 I used to mount the mesh cone over the entrance. I might employ a thick clay for this step in future applications. It's worth mentioning, as well, that the mesh really ought to be made from 1/8" mesh hardware cloth and not aluminum screen, or any other woven mesh as it is wont to unravel when being scrunched into the tiny end of the cone, the opening of which should only be large enough for two drones to exit simultaneously.

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