Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Playing Mind Games with the Honey Bees

We had to move our hives of bees to a location that would maximize their situation for these coming summer months.

Today was designated moving day.


Since I don't have a good relationship with the bees (actually it's only their back end stinging apparatus that causes me a problem), I stayed out of the fun and games while Chicken Mama and Gilligan gave Papa Pea a helping hand.


The bees can be particular about the relocation of their hives.  If you move them less than a couple of feet, no problem, all is well.  But if the move is to more than a couple of feet away from the old location and still within their familiar flying range of several miles, you have to trick them into returning to their newly moved hives rather than going back to the old location . . . even though the hive is no longer there.


Just to make things seem even more complicated, if you move the hives to a new spot many miles away, they fly out of the hive, take a look around and realize they are definitely not (in Kansas anymore?) in familiar territory and will automatically re-orientate themselves to the new spot and have no trouble finding it when they make the trip back to the newly located home base hives.

Anybody still with me?

Now back to how to convince the emerging bees that we didn't locate them two counties away, but rather only moved them ten feet.

It's necessary to create some sort of barrier in front of the hive that is unusual.  This could be some lengths of boards leaned up against the hives, the handles of many garden tools like shovels or hoes, a length of snow fencing, anything that they can get through but not something solid like sheets of plywood.


Or you could use evergreen boughs as we did.  (Extra person in the above picture is our good neighbor, D, who had come over to pick up the incubator and some duck and goose eggs he's going to give a try at hatching out.)

The bees come out, (probably say, "What the heck?!") navigate their way through the constructed barrier and go on their merry little pollen-gathering way.  When they head home, they remember this strange barrier they had to go through to get back to the hive and all is well.


We'll leave the boughs in front of the hives for 2-3 days which should be enough time for the bees to acclimate to their (slightly) new location.

Now a new coat of paint on the hives and they should be set for summer and happy in their sunny location.

28 comments:

  1. That is certainly clever. Hope the bees love their new home. I love your new header, by the way!

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    1. Laurie - Thank you! The header contains a couple of my daughter's photos and a couple of mine.

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  2. Very cool! I don't know nearly enough about bees. I loved reading that Mama Pea! :) I'm glad you stayed safely in the distance though. I still giggle when I read "Gilligan", can't help it. It looks like spring has sprung for you! I love your new header photo :)

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    1. Rain - Spring has sprung . . . but it's still plenty cool. That will change one of these days, too, though. We usually go from cold to 70-some degrees the next day. Glad you like the new header photo. Chicken Mama put it together for me, computer illiterate that I am!

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  3. That was a fun little mini-course on bee-keeping; thanks!

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    1. Michelle - You're welcome . . . and thank you!

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  4. We usually take ours to a friend's place 5 miles away to move them (usually when we have collected them after they have swarmed onto a nearby tree) As you say this is very tedious and time consuming. Last year we tried something similar to you with a hay stuffed in the door. it worked well with a few returning to the old hive which was okay with us.
    Well described beekeeping Mama Pea
    Gill

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    1. Gill - Thanks for the comment! Beekeeping and learning all about bees is a never ending subject for me. Hubby is the bee expert in the family, so I'm always asking questions . . . and not always understanding the answers!

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  5. We used to have bees, but sadly they were killed off by marauding Asiatic wasps. We might try again in the future though. I did love to see our own bees pollinating the flowers and would spend ages watching them fly to and fro their hives.

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    1. Vera - I don't think my garden would do half as well without the honey bees to do their pollination thing. They are amazing!

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  6. Oh wow, how interesting! So much to learn for our future, thank you.

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    1. Tracy - Gaining knowledge about the bee society is truly fascinating. Makes me feel quite simple compared to them and the things they do.

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  7. We have bees, but they're not "ours". A local apiarist stores his bees here off season. We get a share (lots for us and enough to "gift" to a few choice neighbors). He takes them to California and Florida for the winters to pollinate the fruit crops. They do a dandy job in my garden. He loves the fact I don't use ANY chemicals. Works for everyone!
    I'm so glad you had your daughter to help. I worry about you with the bees!

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    1. Sue - What a terrific good deal for you and the beekeeper! Hope you always have them for how they benefit your flowers, veggies and fruit.

      I worry about me with the bees, too. We've discussed not keeping bees but we believe honey to be the very best sweetener we could possibly use and want to have our own supply so we know it doesn't have contaminants in it. Besides, I keep telling my husband I don't think he really likes me very much. ;o]

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  8. Something new to learn. I can't have bees here. I have too many farmer's that surround us, and the bees could just bring pesticides back to their hive. Maybe in my next homestead.

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    1. Kristina - That's a very real thing to be concerned about. And part of the reason bees are dying off!

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  9. That was very interesting. I wouldn't think they would give it much thought as long as they were in the same hive. I never knew they were so finicky.

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    1. Theresa - If we could only fully understand the minds of bees!

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  10. Who knew?! There is so much involved in keeping bees! My neighbor believes she has lost all five of her hives - I'm hoping she is wrong. With all that Pea Family Brain Power (with some Gilligan thrown in), those bees should thrive!

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    1. Susan - It's a struggle to keep them alive and healthy up here in our climate let alone everything else the poor bees have to face at this time. Fingers crossed your neighbor didn't lose everything. We lost only one hive over winter and considered ourselves lucky at that.

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  11. Mama Pea,
    I don't have a hive, but, I have plenty of bees. I grow lots of Lavender for the bees. My family thinks I'm nuts 'cause I'm allergic to bees & carry an Epi-pen just in case. So far it's been 20+ yrs since I've been stung. Sounds weird but I just talk to the & move slowly when I harvest lavender. I love how you reaclimate (sp) to a new location. Happy Spring, Sandy

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    1. Sandy - I totally agree with you about talking to the bees and explaining you mean them no harm. I do the same thing. The times I've been stung have been instances when they were upset for some reason. Once I inadvertently pinched one while picking cucumbers, another time hubby had been working in the hives, the bees were cranky because of that and I walked too close to the hives. One other time I was mowing the lawn and the noise scared or in some way upset them. Once one got caught in my hair . . . and we both panicked! You're right in that they are normally docile and will land on your arm and crawl around without doing damage.

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  12. Good thinking! I always wanted bees, but hubby vetoed. If he croaks before me I am buying some bees :)

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    1. LHinB - Got a good chuckle out of your comment. You go, girl!

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  13. Bees are sooo fascinating. I hope yours are happy in their newish location.

    And I love your new header!

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    1. Leigh - So far, so good! Thanks for noticing the header photo. I kinda sorta copied yours which are always so well done!

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  14. Mama Pea,

    Beautiful new header! Y'all take good care of your bees and their hives. I'm sure they'll remain comfortable after the move.

    Hugs,
    Sandy

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    1. Sandy - Thank you! So far everything is looking good in regard to the bees . . . plus our snow is melting, melting, melting.

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