Tuesday, July 21, 2009

capturing bees

I had gotten some questions on my bee box video on youtube and needed a little more room to answer than they offer. So here they are:

denizaks14 wrote about capturing bees and harvesting the honey. The following is an attempt to address both issues. Please keep in mind I no longer keep bees and NEVER was an expert to begin with so please take all my answers with a block of salt.

The bees aren't actually kept in the bee box, a point I should have made clear in the video. The box is only used to line (or track) the bees back to their original hive. A hive can generally be a kept hive or a feral hive. By kept hive I mean a hive that already has an owner. I'd recommend leaving those alone. ;-) A feral hive is a swarm of bees that have swarmed from a kept hive.

A feral hive can be described as an escaped colony and needs care. Wild bees oftentimes no longer exist because of a variety of ills. Varroroa mites, disease and Colony Collapse Disorder all take their toll on an escaped swarm. These can be controlled (well perhaps not CCD) by an attentive beekeeper.

Here in the southeastern US, bees will often find a hollow Sweetgum tree. To capture the hive the top of the tree would be cut off so that the cut is above the hollow. Then the bottom would be cut below the hollow leaving a log that contains the hollow. This hollow log can then be carried to a convenient location for keeping. An empty hive body can be placed near the tree hive and the bees might move into the new hive making them easier to keep.

Honey can be extracted using a tool called a honey extractor. A honey extractor is basically a steel bucket with a rack inside that is spun by either a motor or by hand slinging the honey out by centrifugal force. The honey then runs down the inside of the bucket to a waiting spigot. Plans for honey extractors can be found here and here or they can be bought outright.

Make a mark! Leave a comment!


  1. I'm not sure if the first post I attempted to make actually worked, so I'll try again. I've successfully captured some honey bees and gotten them to fill up on a 1:1 sugar/water mixture. The problem is that no bees ever return to get more food. Is there a secret to the sugar/water mixture? Should I add some kind of scent or honey to it? Any suggestions?

  2. I've read that a little anise scent can help. Take a cotton ball that has ben dipped in anise oil and wipe it around the lip of the container that holds the sugar water.

    It may also help if you feed the bees when they are hungry e.g. when there aren't lots of flowers blooming.

    Good luck and keep me posted on how it is working for you!

  3. I liked your video. How did you make this box?