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Author Topic: New member in Southern California  (Read 400 times)
KathyMo
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Location: Hopelessly Lost


« on: January 01, 2011, 06:56:12 PM »

Hi all,
I came across this board while searching for some answers about our natural hive.  It's been in our small barn for about 5 years or so and has provided us a lot of honey, although we've only harvested it one time.  We just took a look at it and the bees are gone!  There are some ants in there (not that many really) and it's apparent that some rats got into some of the honeycomb.
We would like to know what happened to the bees, will the be back, and is there any concern about contamination from the rats if we harvest some honey.  I did take some of the honeycomb with honey in it (perhaps 20% of what was there), and I read that honey doesn't "go bad", but I am concerned about if the rats could contaminate the honey.  Any information would be greatly appreciated. 
Thank you in advance and I look forward to learning!
Kathy Mo
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AllenF
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« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2011, 07:04:57 PM »

Welcome, and with the rats, as long as the honey comb was between some comb that the rats could not get to, it may be alright.   You will have to take all of the comb out to keep the rat and the bug population down.  You can melt the wax down for your own use at this point.   As for the hive dying, they probably died out from high mite population, a problem with untreated  hives.   
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kathyp
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2011, 07:22:54 PM »

might be mites, although a hive that has been around that long and done well usually has developed an ability to deal with mites.  mite loads change from year to year, so they may have done them in this year.  other possibilities are losing the queen and not getting a mated queen back into the hive, getting into pesticide, or just leaving for a better home. rats might also have run them off or eaten the brood.  not much that a rat won't eat.  were there many dead bees, or does it look like they just took off?

if you are happy with the location of that hive, just clean it out and leave it as it is.  there is every possibility that the site will attract a swarm in the spring. any honey that is capped is probably fine to use and as Allen said, you may melt the wax down for your use.  plenty of ways to do it from folks on here.  i melt it in a double boiler through cheesecloth, but be very careful not to boil it over.  it's quite a mess if you do, not to mention a fire hazard  grin.

honey may be taken by crush and strain.  also many ways to do that on here.  pretty simple and takes no equipment, or just enjoy in comb.

might want to set some rat traps or invest in a few barn cats! 

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BjornBee
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« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2011, 09:05:05 AM »

Young teens with 22's (Oh, the memories) are more effective than cats. Or at least my cats. Lazy no good for nothing freeloaders!

Welcome to the site KathyMo.
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