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Will Rapp:

This is my first introduction to the Forum, and my story. About four years ago I had a swarm of bees that made a fairly large cluster hanging from a limb of a tree in my yard. I'm not a beekeeper but I like having my bee buddies and they love the trees in my yard. I had to go away for a weekend and I made some phone calls to beekeepers, and while I was away they came to relocate the swarm.

Now for the last three years I've had bees colonize in a ground level water-valve vault that I have in my front yard. In the Spring the bees love the purple blossoms of my succulent ground cover, and I have a Chinese flame Tree in my yard. It's currently full of yellow blossoms which many hundreds of bees tour every day.

Two years ago I saw ants raid the honeycombs which my buddies were building in the ground level valve vault, and the bees abandoned it. Last year the bees came back to the vault and tried again. I had read that ants won’t cross a path of diatomaceous earth, so I tried that as a perimeter. It failed and the ants got in, and the bees again abandoned the vault. This year the bees are back, and I’m using a mix of water, cooking oil and dish soap as a perimeter barrier, with a ring of DE just outside that. This has worked for several months.

I haven’t detected any ant infestation, and the bees have been there since Spring. Now I’m concerned that the vault isn’t large enough for them. It's in direct sun for part of the day, and there's really no air circulation, with only two small lifting-tool access holes in the lid for the bees. I don’t know if they have a queen, but I'm guessing that they might. It looks as though they're getting too crowded because they sometimes layer themselves on the outside near the entrance hole in the early evening.

I think it's time that I found somebody to adopt them because I'm not a professional beekeeper and I would like for them to have a more appropriate home. I want to touch base with the Forum for ideas for making that happen. I live in Glendale in the Los Angeles area and I’ve tried but haven’t had luck finding a suitable home for them. I like having them around my yard year after year, but I want them to have an appropriate long-term home as well. Any connection leads would be appreciated. Please let me know by email if you have leads for me. I’ll check the Forum for updates as well. Thanks.

Will Rapp ([email protected])
 

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buy a used hive and set it up near the vault.
it will smell like home and they may move in.
You can other wise catch the queen and relocate her and a sufficient number of bees.
Save some of the comb (hopefully brood) from the vault to hang in the new hive.
Brood will bind the bees to the new box, it would be very hard to get them to leave it.

Contact your local bee club for help and they often used gear.
 

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buy a used hive and set it up near the vault.
it will smell like home and they may move in.
You can other wise catch the queen and relocate her and a sufficient number of bees.
Save some of the comb (hopefully brood) from the vault to hang in the new hive.
Brood will bind the bees to the new box, it would be very hard to get them to leave it.

Contact your local bee club for help and they often used gear.
Call the beekeepers again and ask them to come and set a swarm trap to coax them up out of the hole they are in. They use lure scent inside the trap to help pull them into it. IF the beekeepers are local the bees will be too as they range from 5-8 miles out away from the hive to find nectar. And, your beekeepers will be happy to have another FREE package of bees!
 

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Sounds like a good time to start being a beekeeper. You sure have a start. I'd buy a starter hive configuration and add a little lemon grass oil at the entrance with a q-tip and then toss inside like you would using a swarm trap and see if they move in to expand their colony.I got a few swarms just like that this year.
Plant Tree Tire Wood Grass
 

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I've gotten some really nice bees out of ground level water meter or sprinkler valve boxes. I'm sure a beekeeper would love to have them but hurry, or wait til next spring. It is very hard getting bees established and ready for winter after September, may already be too late in the northern states. Your local bee club will have beekeepers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for your suggestions for various ways to actually raise bees, but I have no expertise in being a beekeeper, and I don't think I should be starting now. I currently have my left hand in a cast from some arthritis surgery, and for that and several other medical reasons, I can't really begin to become a beekeeper at this point in my life.

Even more importantly, In Glendale, California, where I live, the city ordinance says I can keep bees if the hives are at least 200 ft from any residence. My house is on a street with 40 ft wide x 163 ft deep residential lots. My only response from my local phone calls to beekeeping reference numbers was from someone who said for $200 he’d remove the bees, and I don't plan to do that. I'll try again for some local phone numbers to see if I can find beekeepers who can help with what I need. I do want to find a better home for the bees that do like my yard and my confining water valve vault. That's why I'm looking for some suggestions to connect with someone in my geographical area who can adopt them. They're still having a great time, but I know they're getting crowded and I don't have a convenient way to give them more space.

Thanks again, Will
 

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Most likely they will make their own space by swarming if left alone.You've had them in that water valve vault for three years already so it sounds like they know how to adjust to the number of bees that hatch.They are doing a pretty good job of taking care of themselves but sooner or later, they will do what all life's creatures do...die. Especially in this new world of Varroa mite infestation.
 

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Thanks for your suggestions for various ways to actually raise bees, but I have no expertise in being a beekeeper, and I don't think I should be starting now. I currently have my left hand in a cast from some arthritis surgery, and for that and several other medical reasons, I can't really begin to become a beekeeper at this point in my life.

Even more importantly, In Glendale, California, where I live, the city ordinance says I can keep bees if the hives are at least 200 ft from any residence. My house is on a street with 40 ft wide x 163 ft deep residential lots. My only response from my local phone calls to beekeeping reference numbers was from someone who said for $200 he’d remove the bees, and I don't plan to do that. I'll try again for some local phone numbers to see if I can find beekeepers who can help with what I need. I do want to find a better home for the bees that do like my yard and my confining water valve vault. That's why I'm looking for some suggestions to connect with someone in my geographical area who can adopt them. They're still having a great time, but I know they're getting crowded and I don't have a convenient way to give them more space.

Thanks again, Will
Will,

I think you have already made a great home for them, and doing your neighbor's gardens a favor since no one is allowed to have bees on such small lots. I wouldn't worry about them, they have been managing for a lot of years without human intervention.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Perhaps an interesting story. Early this year my bee buddies were enjoying various succulent blossoms in my yard, but they were not in the water vault which still had abandoned combs from previous year’s ant raids. I was unaware that they decided to start settling on the ground in the middle of one of my areas of ice plant under a tree. I didn't realize they were there until I was weeding around that patch of ice plant, and I disturbed them and got stung quickly 5 times, whereupon I learned my lesson and stayed away and just watched them going in and out. They were there at ground level for two or three months, and then they decided to move into the water vault. I haven’t tried to sneak a look after dark, which I did in previous years - I think it’s for the best, at least for me.

They’ve been in the vault for at least 3 months now and I've only been stung once in that time. I was about 10 feet away from them, watering some of my flowers, and one of them apparently felt defensive and decided to sting me on my left forearm. Oddly enough, that was on July 19th, and on July 20th I had surgery on my left thumb joint, whereupon I had a cast on my left forearm over the sting. Fortunately, this one sting was not intense, and they haven't bothered me since. I’m being very cautious around them since there are so many more now.

I'm a little concerned because the water vault is only five feet from the edge of my neighbor's driveway (but not close to the public sidewalk) and they're in and out of that driveway on foot a lot. They are well aware of the colony, and haven’t expressed concern..

They have a small dog which is nearly always on a leash, and I only play with him far removed from the vault I have been concerned that he might get excited and get too close to the vault. Maybe he instinctively knows better. I’ve put up some barrier materials as a kind of perimeter around the vault just to make it less tempting for anybody or any animals to want to walk near it. I have freelance animals who pass through sometimes (cats, coyotes, once a bobcat), but they can handle themselves.

I'm still a little concerned that someone besides me might get stung. I just had the cast removed from my left hand today, but it will be some time yet before I will again have two working opposable thumbs to do real work in the yard. I will further pursue calling some beekeepers to see if I can have someone adopt the little buggers. As folks have pointed out, they'll be fine for now, and may decide to relocate on their own at some point, while I do my research.
Time will tell.
Will
 
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