country garden brugmansia picture


BAIT HIVES


A good way to increase your colony count is to put out bait hives each spring. Here in northwest Florida I try to have mine in place by March 1st. We get an early bloom,for buildup,from wild blueberry and red maple. Depending on weather this bloom can start as early as mid January and ,if it does, swarms will start early.

I use old,cull, boxes and usually paint them some soft,blotchy,color as camoflage. Keep in mind that there is a lot of gray in the woods. Close the entrance down to about three inches by ¾ inch. DO NOT use screened bottom boards. Bees will not accept these. On that note,I have never been able to hive a swarm on a screened bottom. I put them in and they leave at the first opportunity.

If you are a new bee keeper ,and do not have old boxes, then use whatever you have. Bees will use just about anything if they can't find a better choice. I have taken swarms out of everything from meter boxes to old oil drums. and a couple from outside combs in trees.






It is important to have the box full of frames with at least some wax strips to get the combs drawn straight. If you don't put in frames you will have a cross comb mess to clean up later. A few pieces of old comb is good if you have it but wax strips will do as well. Leave some open space as swarming bees like to cluster. Yes,that is a medium frame in the picture.Any size frame that you have will work to keep things straight.



Like real estate it's all about location. I place mine in the edge of some woods,just back from the outside edge. In other words,shaded but visible. Areas with large,old trees are good. Here that means live oaks. Even better are areas with old,run down houses and outbuildings that might house colonies. Areas near other known colonies are good but be sure to stay at least a quarter mile away just as a matter of courtesy.





These are a couple of typical locations. I place my boxes about 6 feet off the ground.The recommended height is ten feet but I am not lugging a ladder around the woods.Five or six feet works fine. I also use a couple of drops of lemon grass oil as an attractant.




I check my boxes every two weeks. When you find that a swarm has taken up residence be sure to leave it in place for at least a week to make sure the bees are well settled. If you check every two weeks then no colony will be over two weeks old. Prime swarms will fill the box fast. They will also be very heavy when it's time to move them. Unless you are young,and strong bring help. I try to move my colonies at sundown when most of the field bees are home for the night. Bring a small piece of 1/8 hardware cloth ,and some shears to cut a piece to close up the entrance. That hardware cloth,in case you don't know, is screen with 8 mesh to the inch. It is usually available at hardware stores. Good luck.