Sunday, March 16, 2008

Here kitty kitty...

I have some unused hive bodies and a few extra plastic frames, so I decided to try my luck with establishing two bait hives. The theory behind bait hives is to simply make a nice place for bees to live and hope a passing swarm will decide to take up residence there. Of course, the success of this strategy is a function of swarming activity in the area. European bees can swarm about once a year, and part of good beekeeping is to reduce swarming tendencies to less than that. Africanized honeybees can swarm eleven times or so per year. Luckily, AHBs have not made it as far north as I am. The best time to catch a swarm is in April, May or June. A swarm caught later than that will not have sufficient time to draw comb and make enough honey to make it through the winter.

I obtained two viles of swarm lure from the State Department of Agriculture to improve my chances. I set up one bait hive "by the book". That is, it is the size of two medium bodies and it has a one inch hole for an entrance. It is also about 10 feet off the ground, sitting on the stairs leading to my woodshop. I would have liked to have some empty drawn comb to put in it, but I have don't have any that is not being used. Instead, I just have a couple plastic frames and foundation in it.

The other bait hive breaks the rules. It is simply two medium nuc bodies stacked on top of each other, and it is sitting right on the ground. I threw in two frames of plastic foundation for good measure.

With a whole lot of luck, maybe one of these hive will catch the eye of a swarm.
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