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Author Topic: Absconding and other after care issues  (Read 1162 times)
David McLeod
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« on: July 18, 2012, 09:55:44 AM »

How do you stop it? I've lost four so far this season to absconding, the latest was one I really wanted to keep as it was a gentle bunch of bees and I was able to save every bit of comb with a great pattern.

Here is my protocol for after care. I use the bushkill vac so the bees are contained in a deep and the box holding the comb, usually a shallow. I set the vac off onto the stand where they will be when set up. I try to leave them confined to the vac at least overnight and 48 hours of possible. Whenever possible the queen has been caught, I've been extremely lucky at doing so this season, and she will be in a clip cage next to the brood comb. I also mark her at the time of capture. Next I will unstrap the vac and set the boxes directly onto a bottom board and put a top on the stack, the queen remains caged for another 24. At this time I shove a boardman into the entrance or I set a pail on top that has 3:2 syrup to give them what they need to draw comb since the frames will be a mix of foundation and foundationless. Some drawn if available.
I suspect that I may be caging the queen to long since I notice that once she starts laying again the threat of abscond is over. Should I be releasing her onto eggs immediately? I also have observed the behavior of the bees when I set them on the bottom board is a sure fire indicator. If they act all stupid and want to fly up in a big cloud like a swarm when I set them off then that one will abscond in a few days when I release the queen sometimes several days after she is released. I suspect that the decision has been made at that point and there is no changing their minds.
I also have little faith in capturing and rehiving these absconds as two of them this year I was able to grab and toss back in the box, one I did three times, and again it was a case of once the decision was made. I've even shifted a frame of open brood to try to hold them without success.
One issue that I have in my yard that may be contributing to this is ants. I try to set these new colonies up on a moat system using water heater pans filled with water and the boxes set on a cinder block to keep the ants at bay but as we all know a single blade of grass and the box is crawling with ants. I'm doing my best but it still happens. Some seem to get the ants in check and others don't.
BTW, I would welcome any input on the ant issue as a whole in the yard. I've seriously considered broadcast treatment of the yard with Bifen granules. Has anyone noticed if treatment with Guardstar has any effect on the ant situation. What about bait stations such as beetle barns and fipronil set on the ground under the stands.
So tell me what I should be doing differently.
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Intheswamp
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« Reply #1 on: July 18, 2012, 10:49:05 AM »

David, I wish I had enough sense to tell you what's going on.  I lost my first "swarm call" the other day.  Lady that had a small colony in a cedar at the edge of her yard called me...said there was a swarm of bees hanging on a tree limb in her dog pen.  It was about bowling ball size.  I set the hive box under it, bumped the limb and white comb suddenly appeared from where some of the bees fell off.  I had a time with these bees.  I finally found the queen and had her in a clip.  The bees started entering the hive until they were about all inside.  Standing there talking to the lady suddenly all the bees issued out and it looked like a swarm.  We watched from a distance for a moment and the bees looked like they were going back inside.  Finally when they were all "inside" I screened the box and headed home with it.  Put it on a stand, pulled the cover off intending to release the queen and only a handful of bees were inside!!!  I closed it up and went back to the lady's house.  Sure enough, about 15' higher up in the tree the bees had re-clustered.  I sat the hive beneath them on the ground (no solid support to sit it on with a storm moving in) and left it for the night.  Next day there was lots of orienting with the cluster still hanging in the tree.  I figured the queen might have been in there too long and that maybe if she traveled over the two frames of comb she might start laying or spreading her scent around more and that might anchor the bees down (NEWBEE MISTAKE #3201).   

I left them until the afternoon.  When I returned, that evening...they were gone except for a few stragglers.  They apparently did not like what I offered them.  They only showed a very short, passing interest in the hive box immediately after I put the queen inside...after that it seemed like she couldn't get them too interested in it.  I was concerned about keeping the queen caged for an extended period of time....next time I hope she has some good attendants 'cause she's not getting out till the colony is sitting in my bee yard. 

Of the swarms that issued from my own hives (started with three hives, went to five, now back to three) I had to re-hive two swarms that absconded...they stayed put after the second hiving but never seemed to prosper.

Your actions seem correct to me, much better than my feeble ones have been.  From the reports from other folks, it seems this has been an heavy swarm year...seems the bees have decided to do what bees will do.  huh  I know it's be a heck'uva year for a newbee (like me) to start keeping bees!!

Best wishes,
Ed
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jaseemtp
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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2012, 02:28:56 PM »

Ok y'all
What I have found to keep them is to keep the queen caged for 3 days.  It seems that after being in the hive for that long they dont readily leave.  I can not take credit for this, I asked JP and Hardwood and this is what both of them suggested.
So far it has worked very well.  I have not lost any cut outs that I have rehived with the queen caged.  Now the ones I have done and can not find the queen, I still lose some.
As far as the ant problem, once you find out what works please let me know.
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D Coates
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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2012, 03:10:51 PM »

I'll ditto the "cage the cut out queen for 2 or 3 days", assuming I'm lucky enough to find her.  It seems to calm them down and keep them from actually issuing after a cut out no matter how much they don't like their new home.  As for swarms, the only times I've had them re-issue is if I didn't put a frame of open brood in there.  After I lost a couple swarms I won't consider a swarm hived until I get a frame of brood in there, preferably right before you shake them into the box.  They're bees and they'll do as they please on occasion but I'm a steady believer in those two rules.
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Intheswamp
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2012, 03:38:25 PM »

Queen caged for 2-3 days and open brood in the box....got it burned into my brain now!   Tnx.

Ed
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www.beeweather.com 
American blood spilled to protect the freedom and peace of people all over the world.  320,000 USA casualties in WWI, 1,076,000 USA casualties in WWII, 128,000 USA casualties in the Korean War, 211,000 casualties in the Vietnam "conflict", 57,000 USA casualties in "War on Terror".  Benghazi, Libya, 13 USA casualties. These figures don't include 70,000 MIA.  But, the leaders of one political party of the United States of America continue to make the statement..."What difference does it make?".

"We can't expect the American People to jump from Capitalism to Communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of Socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have Communism."..."The press is our chief ideological weapon." - Nikita Khrushchev
jaseemtp
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2012, 03:52:52 PM »

Ed,
I use the queen catcher from Mann Lake.  It is $3.50 each and its never a bad idea to keep several around.

here is the catalog page

http://www.mannlakeltd.com/beekeeping-supplies/page49.html#!productInfo/6/
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D Semple
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2012, 04:11:41 PM »

I lose very few and I never cage the queen or give them brood

Here is what I think helps:

Foundationless, no plastic
Give them little more interior room than you think they need
Shade, if it's hot out
3/4" x 3" entrance
keep the ants at bay
isolate them at least 20' from other hives
LEAVE THEM ALONE, no inspections untill you think they will have capped brood

Don
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loumaro
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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2012, 07:31:18 PM »

For your ant problem . Get some "TangleFoot" from your garden supply store. Its about like axel grease just smear some on eack leg about 4" inches wide. the ants wont cross it. This only works if you have stands with legs. If your hives are on blocks it's not practical.
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Louie
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« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2012, 01:08:04 AM »

i lost quite a few this year.  Until I started putting a queen excluder between the deep and bottom board on every cutout or swarm as a standard practice.  I dump the bees in the box on their comb, I usually tend to vacuum the hell out of all the bees and end up with a queen.  You lock her down and the bees arent going anywhere.  You can tell if they are determined to take off a day later if they have sucked up every bit of available nectar that theyve had in their comb.  I dont try to put honey in frames but you end up with a few cells in there most times.  If its lookin pretty dry, I leave the excluder on the bottom for a few days.  I also put a gatorade bottle full of syrup with holes punched in the lid about an inch in front of the entrance.  They will start bringing in pollen and getting to business after that.  You can NOT forget to remove the excluder once they get pointed in the right direction.  I have had zero losses since (except for shb).  I used to use the catcher rubber banded in the frame, but I had a queen slip out and they flew the coop, so I quit that.
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David McLeod
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2012, 02:04:41 AM »

Another beek in the area suggested that very thing today, duck. That's what I'll do.
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Georgia's Full Service Wildlife Solution
Atlanta (678) 572-8269 Macon (478) 227-4497
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jredburn
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« Reply #10 on: July 29, 2012, 08:06:28 PM »

David,
Welcome to the club.  My wife got to calling me the bee killer because I lost so many cutouts.
I run TBH's with a screened bottom.  I was getting overrun with SHB and ants and the bees would abscond.
I have modified the screen bottom from #8 hardware cloth to metal window screen.  The SHB don't even slow down at the #8 wire.  I have caulked all of the joints and seams.
 I put ant traps on the legs that i built myself.  I put a 1/4" x 1-1/2" wooden strip around each leg and covered that with 2" wide aluminum flashing.  The flashing overhangs the wood and creates a cavity that I fill with sticky board glue.  The ants come crawling up the leg until they hit the glue and that stops them.  If they don't get stuck in the glue, they run back down the leg.  I caulk the cavity so the rain can't wash the glue out.  The glue will stay sticky for a very long time.[/url]


This is an "up the skirt shot"
I have in mind a plastic extrusion filled with sticky glue that I can make and sell.  I should have it n the market in a week or two.
I also put a small queen excluder over the front entrance.  Of course my entrance is a 1-1/4" dia. hole.  There is no exterior landing board.
I use my version of the Bushkill vacuum box to collect the bees.  Since I work both lang and TBH boxes I built a box that will hold 10 standard frames in one direction and 10 TBH bars in the other direction and it is 11-1/2" deep.  I vacuum the bees into one box and put the honeycomb in a second one.  When I am done, I connect the two boxes with a plastic tube and let the bees walk from the catch box into the honeycomb box.

I also have my own version of a SHB trap that attracts and keeps the beetles once they get in the hive.  They are made with a Formica base that is covered with sticky board glue.  In the center they have a small pad that is soaked in Apple Cider Vinegar and the whle top is #8 hardware cloth.  The beetles crawl in but don't crawl out.
and with the wire cover in place


All this to keep a cutout in a box.
Feel free to PM me if you want details.
Regards
Joe
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tefer2
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« Reply #11 on: July 29, 2012, 09:24:22 PM »

The open frame of brood and a frame of honey always works for us. Have not lost any since I went to this method. If I didn't have open brood, I would use an excluder on top of bottom board.
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