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[personal profile] doodlemaier
Much to my surprise, today I discovered eggs in one of the two comb failure hives I've been nursing through life all summer! It had been more than a month since attempting to remove them and I hadn't been able to find any vacated queen cells in either trap-out attempt and so naturally I feared the worst. My intention today was merely to clean all the putrid honey and SHB maggots out of the comb failure hive, reclaim the wax and combine the two colonies in order to free up some woodenware to house the trap-out that I've been ignoring at my in-laws. At any rate, I'm back in the business of feeding bees (if for no other reason, I wanted to test my cheap n'easy sheet cake tin hive top feeder on bees that I figured were as good as dead anyway).

I cooked up a gallon of 1-to-1 syrup and, per a friend's suggestion, I used some Honey-B-Healthy in the mix despite Mike Bush's warning about any non-native scents in the hive having the potential to disrupt communication within the brood nest, even those that are considered safe and "natural". I think it helped cover the scent a few hundred sudden new arrivals (only a couple frames of bees were left of the queenless cluster) and otherwise kept the colony with the laying queen busy enough to not want to fight about it.

I added a second box underneath - empty of frames - hoping the bees will draw nice double-deep uninterrupted combs from the open-bottom frames for winter optimization (more comb area with fewer gaps) and so didn't separate the two boxes with a sheet of newspaper with slices in it, as is customary when combining colonies. This technique creates considerable lag time between the bees of disparate colonies having to deal with each other and by the time they do everyone's pretty well taken on the scent of the hive and adapted. Luckily everyone seemed to get along okay right off the bat. Although the honey from the comb failure's ruined from the standpoint of human consumption, the bees were busy cleaning up all the little details I spilled. Everything out if the dead hive went into a large plastic trash bag and into the chest freezer to eliminate the SHB infestation, and after a week I plan to let that thaw and drain further and feed it back to them throughout the remainder of the season if they'll take it.

In the mean time I'm hoping they'll make good use of the extra space to ramp up the population a bit in case there's a secondary nectar flow later, as there often is here in the mid-atlantic toward the onset of autumn; the fantasy being that I'll transfer combs containing the survivor stock to a frame bearing variant of the Perone hive in the spring.
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[personal profile] doodlemaier
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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