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Author Topic: Colony in a tree on a golf course...  (Read 6558 times)
Carriage House Farm
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« on: January 09, 2008, 11:06:36 PM »

OK....sooooo...a rumor was started that I was thinking about keeping bees amongst the guys I shoot with.  No biggie really, aside from ribbing about spending more on hives this winter than ammo they think its cool.

Well, half of 'em are cops most of whom are friends with the local park rangers and game wardens who have friends that are grounds keepers in the local parks this side of the county.

Well, two of them show up on the farm.  Thought the were busting me for doing an open burn without a permit (had flames 30' into the air).  Nope, they had a honey bee hive in a tree around the 8th hole of the golf course a couple miles down the road and wanted to know if I could deal with it without killing the bees.

I told them I didn't have any bees yet, was just learning, just built my hives, but could try if they wanted me too.

So I visited the site when it was warm.  Maybe a little too late to see any activity since the wind kicked up with all the storms moving west of us in Indiana.  Wind was close to 20 mph maybe even a bit more and overcast and temps were beginning to fall.  Not the best bee weather.But I got a good look at the tree.  I did not have anything to listen with and tried to take a picture in the smaller hole, but to no avail.  I did see comb and the smaller hole was quite travel worn and stained a bit.  SO I know they aren't talking about hornets are anything.

They said the hive has been active right up till winter for the past three years.  Its thrown off a couple swarms and at times they actually have to close down the path and reroute carts and the greens keeper while he was mowing it got so thick.

If they are still around this spring I was thinking about closing off the holes, putting a conical bee escape on and setting up a box with some foundation in it and wait a couple weeks and see what happens.

Does that sound...well...sound?  grin

Cutting the tree is not an option.

Then they said they had another location that was the same deal.  A little bit further away but not by much.

Then they said they would call me anytime they found a swarm in the six parks on this side of the county they manage.  I thought that was pretty cool.

Got to learn some time.  This would probably be a good way.

So, here are some pics...






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Richard Stewart
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« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2008, 12:16:35 AM »

You can't beat free bees. I used screen over the holes and made a funnel to the box. I am not sure you would ever get the queen but you should get most of the bees. Can you get a bee vac and suck them out through the holes?  just an idea.
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Carriage House Farm
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« Reply #2 on: January 10, 2008, 08:40:11 AM »

You can't beat free bees. I used screen over the holes and made a funnel to the box. I am not sure you would ever get the queen but you should get most of the bees. Can you get a bee vac and suck them out through the holes?  just an idea.

Don't know really.  I did not have a ladder with me and was just there scouting the site to see if there was room to work and how high up it was.  I'll post more about it when I get started.

Any suggestions on the time I should start?  I was thinking of March, before they opened the course to the public with 2 week inspections.

Do you think I'd have a better chance with vac?  Assuming I can get in to the main part of the body?
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Richard Stewart
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« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2008, 09:45:32 AM »

Probaly could get more with a vac and maybe the queen. The comb and honey unless you can find a way to cut that out will be left behind. Understudy is very good at this stuff and will probaly chime in with some good insight.
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Scadsobees
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« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2008, 11:47:15 AM »

The funnel thing takes weeks, a hive, even a tiny hive(or I suppose a frame of eggs at minimum), and time to clean the funnel out almost every day..  You need to build a platform up there by the hole for that hive.  A real pain in the kiester.

I've never tried the vacuum, but I have a hard time imagining that would work.  Those bees can hang on real tight, and you can't hardly get the vacuum between the combs.

Depending on the cavity, the next thing that I can think of is to drill a hole at the bottom or top of the hive, depending where it is, then blow in fumes of something they don't like: BeeQuick, honey robber, perhaps mothballs of some sort might work, although that might kill them too, I don't know.  Then the bees would rush out the entrance hole.

I'd say that the best option is seeing if they will let you set up a couple of swarm traps nearby, and see if you can't just capture a free swarm from the tree.  That way you can get the queen too!

Rick
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« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2008, 07:54:06 PM »

I agree with the build a platform idea. I haven't trapped them out of trees, yet, the vacum idea will get a bunch of bees but how close to the hive can you get to get in there and vacum them off the combs, probably not close enough. Trapping them out seems to make the most sense here. M.B. has some good advice on his site about this issue and I believe Jerry as in Jerrymac has done a bunch of trapping. The only thing with trapping is that it takes quite a while, like several weeks. I have used beequick, it smells good and will drive the bees out, but probably not the queen. Once things settle down, the bees will want to go back into the tree, so you need to have a good plan formulated.
An idea, which others can add to. Build platform, have a hive body ready, maybe two. Seal off the tree, make hole for bees to escape, place cone over hole. Drill a hole on the back side of the tree. Blow the Beequick in use theexhaust of a vacum to do this by placing a rag or cloth over the end of the hose dampened liberally with Beequick. The idea is to force the bees out and into your awaiting hive. It would be really nice to have a frame or two or three of broodcomb from another hive in the box you will be driving the bees into. You will not get any broodcomb from the tree and probably not the queen. I would if I could, do this when the temps are up, so your new box's brood don't become chilled. This is where others who have actually done this can chime in, because I'm not sure what the next step would be, if you simply remove the hive at this point or leave it there for a day or more, in hopes that you would get the queen to move out, I just don't know at what point you would remove the new hive. If time was of the essence, I would drive them out, let them settle into the box, that evening, seal the entrance and move them. Don't forget you will have to seal the holes in the tree or you WILL have other swarms settle in the tree again, at some point. Of course you will need to have a queen ready for this hive, unless you get lucky and get her.

Best of luck, JP
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Jim 134
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« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2008, 08:45:36 PM »

 Look like the the tree will fall over in a good wind storm Huh
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« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2008, 02:16:12 AM »

I've just done cut outs. I couldn't add to JP's ideas.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2008, 06:25:12 AM »

The problems I've had are that putting a cone on makes an otherwise unnoticed and quite hive into a lot of flying confused bees.  This is disconcerting to people who mistake confusion for anger.  This may not go over well on a golf course, it hasn't gone well with home owners in the past for me.  They freak and spray the bees in a panic and all my work is wasted.

If you warn them (and I always do) and if they don't freak (and they always do) then you have a chance to get some bees, but probably not a queen and not a colony.  It is good for a few pounds of bees though.

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesferal.htm#conemethod
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JP
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« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2008, 11:05:22 AM »

Michael, he states in his second post that the golf course will be closed for an inspection period of 2 weeks sometime in March, seems this would be the best time to do it and no golfers then.

Sincerely, JP
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IndianaBrown
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« Reply #10 on: January 12, 2008, 01:21:30 AM »

I did 3 trap outs (from houses, not trees) last summer. As others mentioned, a trapout takes at least 5 or 6 weeks even if everything goes perfectly.  (2 went well for me, the other took almost 10 weeks because the bees kept finding other ways in.)  I did not have to clean the cones much, and only had to check on them about once a week since I told the homeowners what to look for.  If you do a trap out you will definately want a platform to get the bait hive as close as possible to the cone.  Michael is right as always:  Expect the occasional cloud of confused bees and make sure all concerned know that this it not cause for panic.  I got lucky with all three homeowners on this.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/annamaren/467573342/in/set-72057594137071464/

In all 3 cases I started with a frame of empty drawn comb, some empty frames with starter strips, and a vial of swarm lure phermone.  After a week I removed the phermone and put in a frame of brood/larva.  After the second week I put in a frame with eggs, hoping that they would raise a queen.  (I essentially made three 2-frame 'splits' from my existing hives, supplemented with the trap out bees.)  The first one successfully raised a queen on their own, but I had to buy queens for the other two.  Since I had no prior experience, I did not charge anything for the trap outs themselves, and only got gas money for one of them.  Getting 3 viable hives for the price of 2 queens and some swarm lure was worth it when you consider the experience gained, but if I do any this year I will have to charge something for my time. 

But... even if you get to the point that you have all of the live bees out (after about 4 or 5 weeks minimum), give your new (queen right) hive another week or two to rob out the honey, let wax moths eat up most of the wax after that, and seal up the holes a well as you can... with a tree like that it is just a matter of time until a new swarm moves in...  I agree with Scadsobees: If they don't want to remove the tree, and if they can live with the bees being there, you will be better off just putting swarm traps out.  Much less time, effort, and trouble for better results.
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Carriage House Farm
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« Reply #11 on: January 13, 2008, 10:55:00 PM »

Thanks for the info folks.  I have time on my side here, especially at the other park location.  That location its ONLY a hassle to the grounds keeper and its a rental hall location for the park.

Drive time to both is minimal (the golf course is literally a minute from the farm).  So managing them would not be difficult.

THe tree is not coming down and trust me, the thing I REALLY want to do is milk swarms off them every spring/early summer.  Not too sure that is going to fly though.  Nor do I expect it to.  Maybe I'll simply trap bees and start you guys about who to order queens from.
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Richard Stewart
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« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2008, 10:36:11 PM »

Richard, well, good, it looks like you may be on to an adventure with the bees.  I hope that you have some fun and it turns out that you get some bees for free, yea!!!  Smiley Smiley Smiley  Have the best of days.  Cindi
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« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2008, 07:21:55 PM »

Probably not power out there, but if it's a city park I bet they have a portable generator. I would drench a rag in bee quick and stuff it down inside. Then try and vac the main entrance. 
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Sugarbush Bees
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« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2008, 07:44:30 PM »

I have a generator.

Just built a bee vac too.

I have a third job now, a cut out this time, at a grain elevator.  The bees are in a wall, exterior 4x8 sheets of panel that can be easily pried off or unscrewed.  They are winter between a concrete wall and the exterior paneling.

They have been getting fat feeding off gluten.  Definitely active when I saw them Monday in 54 F overcast.  The plant manager claims there are at least 2 more in the same area.
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Richard Stewart
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« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2008, 11:30:03 PM »

  > The plant manager claims there are at least 2 more in the same area.

Awesome!!!!

......JP
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« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2008, 09:03:47 AM »

Good luck with the cutout.
I would look into who is responsible for tree removals on the park. IMO that tree has had the radish and they should be romoved. Let them know that you can trap the bees out of the tree, but a new colony will move right back in. Tell them if they want to take it out you will staple screen over the holes and have a truck or trailer there for them to place the colony section on.
Then you can do what you want with the bees in your own time grin

How is the sawmill going? You stealing any of my customers up that way yet? Wink
I was supposed to mill some ash for a guy in North Bend, but he never called back to give me the go. I thought maybe you picked him up grin
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Sugarbush Bees
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« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2008, 09:18:26 AM »

I've tried to talk them taking out the tree, but for right now they want to keep it there.

To be honest, if its simply "a source" of free bees, that's OK by me.  Smiley

I have not heard anything about a guy wanting ash sawn up.  I sat on the board for the county to help determine what they want to do with the whole Emerald Ash Borer invasion.  I wasn't able to make it to the last meeting before they publicly announced that they were opening it to contract bids.  I have the Cincinnati Park arborist (he is starting his own apple orchard business) in one of my Ag courses and he said they are close to having the contract sign sealed and approved, but could not tell me who won it.

Not you I guess.  Smiley

I wanted nothing to do with that mess.  In the end I think the local schools are picking up most of the lumber for shop wood, trim for buildings and interior buildouts.

Ash is nice, I use it a lot, but it blows when exposed to any type weather.
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Richard Stewart
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« Reply #18 on: March 02, 2008, 08:40:56 PM »

OK, so temps reached 60 degrees today and was sunny.  I was at a 4-H gig and wandered over to the parks apiary.  Three of four hives were buzzing.

I figured it was time to go check out the elevator cut-out.

They were active.  It was getting on towards 5 PM and they were in the shade, but sure enough, there are at least two colonies.  Two entrances spaced 60 or 80 feet apart.

So far so good.

I am going to focus on these rather than the park unless I get call about a swarm.  In part because I have a better chance to nab a queen.  THere is nothing complex about the wall structure (just 4x8 sheets nailed or screwed to vertical timber/studs with a concrete wall behind 'em).  I think this will be a very solid learning experience.

Now I just have to time it right.  I wonder if I can get a couple hundred pounds of gluten from the guys on the cheap while I am at it.
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Richard Stewart
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« Reply #19 on: May 27, 2008, 10:14:22 PM »

Amazing bees will setup shop anywhere.
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