Hiving a tree colony
On November 16th while out working some of our bee yards, we noticed a colony of honey bees which had built a considerable amount of comb on the bottom of a limb and made it their home 13 feet off the ground. With them being exposed to the harsh elements of the cold North Central Illinois winters, we were contemplating taking the bees down and putting them into a hive but we knew this could be quite harmful to the colony given the cold, windy, wet weather. After some thought we made the decision to build a honey bee house around the existing colony. This would not only leave them in their current home, but would also protect from the wind, rain, and snow. Having them enclosed in a hive body, we were then able to provide the colony with mite control, mouse guard, and with frames of honey for winter reserve. At this point we intend to monitor the hive over the wintertime and keep our fingers crossed for their well-being.
As you can see by the picture [at right], we are able to strap a stepladder to a couple of platforms which we built for the top of the ladder rack. This also works great for getting swarms out of trees in the springtime.
If they do survive the winter, we are hoping to add a super and see if we can run it as a regular hive. (We are hoping to keep it in the tree.)