Beelining with a bee box

Several authors described methods to locate nests using a portable device called a bee box (Edgell, 1949; Visscher and Seeley, 1989). Locating a honey bee colony using a bee box (Fig. 24) uses the same basic concepts outlined in section 4.2.3 and 4.2.4. However, the main difference is that the bee box allows you to trap individual honey bees off of flowers rather than allowing bees to find a feeding station. One can trap a number of bees in a section of the box and using glass and trap doors manipulate them into a second section in the box, a section that contains bait material, be it honey, sugar water, or a combination of both, placed in a small sponge or piece of honey bee comb (Fig. 24). When a beeline is established, one can close the lid of the box and carry the bees trapped with the bait along the path to the colony then stop, open the box, and allow the bees to establish new beelines. Refer to the procedure described below and Fig. 24 for the methodology of using the bee box.

  1. Trap individual bees off of flowers in chamber A.
  2. Darken chamber A, open divider (D), open window (F), and allow bee into chamber E.
  3. Close divider and repeat until enough bees are captured into chamber E.
  4. Place bait in chamber A.
  5. Close window to chamber E, allow light into window (C) to chamber A, and open divider (D). The bees will eat from the bait. Allow 10-15 min for bees to consume the bait.
  6. Open lid (B) to chamber A and allow bees to travel to their colony and back.
  7. Replenish bait and wait for enough bees to visit so that a beeline is established.
  8. Close foraging bees in chamber A and follow path of bee line.
  9. When needed, stop and open chamber A and allow a new beeline to form.
  10. Repeat and keep following the beeline to the colony’s nest.

Pros: bees can be caught directly from foraging sources; the box is transportable and bees can be carried along and new beelines can be established during your search for the nest.

Cons: the major limitation to this technique is the size of the bee box and quantity of bait that can be provided to the bees, limiting the number of bees that will establish a beeline. If there is ample forage in the field, the bees will not readily recruit to the small amount of comb and bait used for the bee box. This technique does work in times prior to or after major blooming periods.

Fig. 24. An example of a bee box. (A) Chamber used to trap bees off of flowers and establish bee lines using bait. (B) Lid to chamber A to trap bees. (C) Window cover to allow light in or darken chamber A. Allowing light in will attract bees toward chamber A while chamber E is darkened. (D) Sliding divider between chambers A and E. Opening and closing the dividers allows or blocks bees from moving between chambers. (E) Chamber to store bees while trapping individuals in chamber A. (F) Sliding window cover to allow light or darken chamber E. Allowing light in will attract bees to chamber E while chamber A is darkened. Refer to Edgell, 1967 and Visscher and Seeley, 1989 for specifications. Photo: A Vaudo.