Wild Bees – End of Summer Update.

Wild Bees of Cawdor Wood.
Linton and Jane at the Bait Hive

Bait Hive Redundant This Season.

We remove the bait hive as summer screeches to a halt here. I have a feeling that the wild bees swarmed but chose another nest site. Over the summer, I visit at least once a week and the bees are defensive in July. I attribute this to their possible queen-less state as the colony awaits the arrival of their new queen.

Bait Hive-Lessons learned.

The bait hive was placed over 100 meters from the tree nest which is good. However, I’d filled the nucleus box with 5 empty frames of drawn foundation which may have given the impression of too tight a space. Scout bees assessing space inside a new nest walk rapidly across the inner surfaces of the cavity. They are looking for their ideal size of 40 liters. They also make short hopping flights lasting less than a second to move them to another point on the walls, floor or cavity ceiling. By the time they have assessed a cavity they will have walked around 60 meters and covered all the inner surfaces which is quite remarkable.

Next Season.

Next season, I will use the same nucleus box, because it is easy to carry and attach to the oak tree, but I will only put a couple of frames in the box. I will try a swarm lure which may be more effective in this setting than lemongrass essential oil.

Further Information.

If you feel inspired to learn more about how honey bees choose a new home you will read all about it in chapter 3, “Dream Home For HoneyBees”, in Honeybee Democracy.

8 thoughts on “Wild Bees – End of Summer Update.”

  1. Nice update Ann! I believe you need a bigger bait box and drawn comb works absolutely fine for me. Interesting to see if the colony survives winter.

    1. Thanks, Tony. Maybe a poly standard brood box and floor would be better. Since I’m going back to national standard brood boxes, I could use the 12″x14″ brood boxes for bait hive next year.

  2. Hello Ann. Averaged over the years, my probability of catching a swarm in any particular bait hive in any given summer is about 0.5. Including a frame of aromatic old comb will help, as will a swarm lure (a tiny tube of citral). Success depends on a scout bee discovering the small entrance hole of your baitt hive…. so it seems almost a miracle that our bait hives are ever occupied by swarms. Hope you will try again!

    1. Thanks, Tom. Indeed, I shall be trying again. I don’t give up easily. I am surprised that the swarms would hang around Colin and Avery’s bait hives for days, even in bad weather, though?

  3. Fine photos Ann and good dark bees. I agree about an old brood frame being an attractant. Then frames with just a strip of foundation so they have most of the space to fill. Thank you Tom for your bait hive success probability. Interesting.

    1. Thanks, Kate. Interestingly, they were quite a mixture of mongrels including a lot of yellow stripey ones. The really dark ones were the wild bees removed from the house near the River Findhorn in April (see previous post).

  4. Never mind! Better luck next year. I am sure you will giving them a house next year. We will see. I am still seeing that beautiful eucryphia tree in Cawdor Castle gardens. It was so magnificent in all its flower glory with all its bees so happy. I look hopefully at my pink one which has flowered but rather frugally this year. I wonder what sort of soil it really likes other than NZ earth and sunshine? The white one has never flowered but looks much bushier and healthier than the special pink one. Did you eventually get a good photograph of the glorious Cawdor Castle eucryphia against a background dark enough to reveal all its beauty?

    1. Maybe a castle next year, Catriona. Thank you for your comments. Just for you, I will post the leatherwood tree photos. Interestingly, a beekeeper over in Moray was asking about that species recently.

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