Native Bees & Splitting Native Bee Hives

Discussion in 'Poultry, Domestic Livestock, Pets, & Bees' started by stevo, Jan 6, 2014.

  1. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    Here's my Native Bee Hive. The bees are Tetragonula carbonaria - Australian Native Stingless Bees. They don't produce much honey but do pollinate everyones plants.

    I've had this in place for nearly a year. I think I will split the hive soon, this means getting another empty hive and transferring some bees in to the empty hive so I will then have two hives. This process is then repeated over time splitting each one so you get more hives. You can either sell them, give them away or keep them at friends or relations properties.

    Most of the little black things around the hive entrance are seeds that have been collected.

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  2. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    What a perfect way to pollinate your garden - it looks like a top spot for the hive too.

    When do you raid the honey? It's quite a different process to European bee honey collection isn't it?
     
  3. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    I could probably remove the honey now, but I want to split the hive first and they will be able to use the current honey/wax/polen as a resource to help rebuild both hives.

    Once the hive has had some time to rebuild i'll take some honey out, maybe in a few months.

    Here's the thread from when I did the bee workshop, with more info and photos of splitting hives and honey extraction. http://selfsufficientculture.com/threads/native-bee-workshop-11-august-qld-au.201/
     
  4. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Oh yeah, I forgot about that thread :)

    Over Xmas I was lucky enough to get a small jar of native bee honey from a relative (as a present) we haven't eaten it yet but I'm ken to have some over vanilla ice cream which I have tried before ages ago.

    Native bee honey is a gourmet food and the person who gave me the 55 mil jar sells them for about $10.50 each (from memory) so it's like expensive bee caviar lol - but it does taste good.

    Oh, I forgot to say I like how you have coloured the box (different to plain white) I guess it makes no difference to the bees what colour their hive is? Could be a pretty trendy hive for a yuppy in the city to own hey... all colour coded to match their Harvey Norman outdoor furniture - I reckon they'd be prepared to pay a good price for their special stingless bees to help improve the environment and "bee" one-up on their friends :p Could be a good market - just saying.

    Here's the jar of native bee honey I was given.​

    native bee honey in 55 mil jar.jpg
     
  5. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    I bought the hive in that colour. All the ones I've seen are that colour too, not sure why, but good idea about colours. I wanted to make a few for myself for future splitting so I could try different colours.

    Interesting present, that gives me ideas aswell :twothumbsup:.. I could give honey to the family. I found it a bit sickly sweet when I tried it so I don't think i'll be eating that much of it. I wonder if the flavour changes much depending on which flowers are around.

    On a side note, I have been planting more and more flowers in the garden, I've put a few blue coloured flowers in and I've noticed an increase in the native Blue Banded Bee, pretty cool I reckon.
     
  6. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    I saw some Blue Banded Bees on one of our rosemary plants the other day - that was a nice surprise I don't see many of them!
     
  7. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    Plant more blue flowers and you'll get more. I had family over here for a bbq over Christmas and there was a blue banded bee buzzing the table.

    I'm in a Yahoo Bee Group, people have had quite a few native bee hives die from this heatwave the last few days, but a few of the hives have been in full sun. Mine is under a roof and only gets sun for an hour early morning.
     
  8. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Blue flowers it is then :thumbsup:

    Full sun is probably not the best place for a man made native bee hive to be positioned when organically they like a sheltered hollow tree etc. I think they can be susceptible to cold snaps also (I remember hearing or reading somewhere).
     
  9. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    I think Blue Banded Bees will go for purple flowers aswell.

    Today I split my hive. The wooden box weighs 4.5kg empty. I weighed the old hive and it was 10kg! I tasted the honey while I was there and it was pretty nice, it seemed better than what I had before.

    Below - New empty hive
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    Below - old hive, this has been in place for about eight months
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    below - separating the base. You slide the knife in to cut the actual hive/cone in half
    [​IMG]

    below - the top is upsidedown on the left, and the base is on the right
    [​IMG]

    below - the old top is now on the new base and is placed where the old hive used to be
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    below - the old base and the new top
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    once it's settled down, maybe in a few months i'll remove the top section and remove the honey.
     
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  10. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    That's cool! Nice job and step by step guide.

    When you collect how do you know how much honey to leave in the hive for the bees or is there a set quantity that should be taken /left?
     
  11. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    As you can see there is honey, resin and polen all around the internal circular cone/hive in the both bottom sections, so the bees will still have plenty of materials to work with. When removing the honey, you just split off the top section and drain the top section of honey. There'll still be plenty of materials left in the top section after the honey is drained out.

    Note: I've never done this before so it's cool and scary at the same time to see if both hives survive.
     
  12. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Got a pic of a blue banded bee! I've noticed more than usual hanging around the garden for some reason...

    [photo]163[/photo]​
     
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  13. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    That's an excellent photo Mark! I have tried to get a photo of them but find it difficult as they move constantly. Yeah there's heaps around my place too.
     
  14. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Cheers, I was pretty happy with the freehand shot (all my good photography is a fluke) :D
     
  15. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    I was out early this morning and my Lilly Pilly tree was was having a party. I think they were European Honey Bees, which I haven't seen for ages, and then there was a few Blue Banded Bees, and then there was two big female Great Carpenter Bees (largest native bees in Aus)
    more info here: http://www.aussiebee.com.au/beesinyourarea.html#greencarpenterbees

    photo from Aussie Bee
    [​IMG]

    I was pretty stoked about the variety, I was going to take some photos later when there was more light but the bees moved on.

    Another thing I noticed late today, there was a few Blue Banded Bees hovering around, not on flowers, I assume they were looking for places to roost.
     
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  16. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Never seen a Great Carpenter Bee - wow what a bee!

    I was stalking my fruit trees this arvo looking for insects to photograph but didn't have much luck and unfortunately didn't come across one of those guys...
     
  17. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    bit of an update...

    I've split my two hives, so now I have four hives. I'm not sure if the two new ones are successful yet, they have to "re-queen", so I wont really know for a couple of months I think. The trouble now is finding suitable places in the yard for them. They need a little bit of morning sun to warm them up but no midday or afternoon sun incase they get too hot in summer.

    [​IMG]
     
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  18. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Great stuff Stevo! How long is it since you split them?

    My uncle split the hives he has at our place also just the other day - they seem to be going ok at the moment... I'll post some pics here soon.

    I've noticed plenty more native bees the garden since getting the hives it's such a win win.
     
  19. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    I got the first hive around March 2013
    Split it around January 2014
    Split the original one again 01/10/2014
    Split the second one again 30/10/2014

    I have three spare empty hive boxes now, it may be possible to split the hives next year, maybe March while it's still hot, but i'll see then. I might just do a honey extraction on one, and split another one and leave two alone just so I don't disturb them too much.

    Yeah before I got bees I wouldn't have known what they were on the plants or if I had any at all. Now I notice them everywhere.
     
  20. Jenni

    Jenni Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Wow the colony must be growing quickly.

    Where do you get the hives? Oh and the bees?

    Have either of you thought of doing a European honey bee hive?
     
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