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Bees Disturbing (nice) Neighbours

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Hey all, 

 

I currently have a small colony that was captured as a swarm late season. I also have a neighbour a couple of hundred metres away with three established hives. 

 

I was out at my hive this afternoon when I was called to by another neighbour (not the one with the bees) to let me know he was having real issues with bees congregating around his back deck. I was a little dubious to begin with and thought it was likely wasps he was mistaking for bees (the Waitakeres are overrun with wasps right now), but walked over and sure enough there was dozens of bees, and a few wasps, flying all over his deck and getting pretty close. I tracked them to a grapevine growing across one edge of the deck, which currently has a lot of rotting fruit on it, and sure enough - there was possibly hundred of bees and wasps crawling and buzzing around the vine. The guy was really nice about it, not confrontational, he just wanted to let me know incase there was a solution - as he currently finds sitting on his deck pretty unenjoyable, which I can understand. 

 

I reassured him that probably once all the rotting grapes have gone, they should dissipate significantly (also as the season commences and bee numbers drop), but he did mention he thinks there's a also a bit of a bee flight path right over the deck from our direction.   

 

I'm wondering if anyone has

a) Any experience with grape vines and bees/wasps and if it's just a short spike of activity on them as the fruit rots, or 

b) if anyone has dealt with, or if it's possible to, direct your bees away from a certain direction? and how best to placate neighbours! 

 

The guy is a good chap and would I'd like to try and find a solution or at least do what I can. 

 

Thanks for any tips in advance!

X

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As nectar sources are depleted at this time of the year, the bees will go for the grapes.  Grapes are a high sugar content fruit.  They pierce the skin and enjoy the contents.  The rotting grapes are probably bee damaged grapes.  Perhaps he can pick all his rotting grapes and put in the compost.  Eat the good grapes. 

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8 minutes ago, waitakerebees said:

a) Any experience with grape vines and bees/wasps and if it's just a short spike of activity on them as the fruit rots,

As soon as the fruit is gone so will the insects.

 

9 minutes ago, waitakerebees said:

if it's possible to, direct your bees away from a certain direction?

No

 

9 minutes ago, waitakerebees said:

how best to placate neighbours! 

Give them honey

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Giving honey to neighbours before there has been a problem was suggested to me early on (possibly by the pink car). It works wonders!

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Bees will work grapes for grape juice at this time of year. They do not pierce the grapes themselves and are unable to do so. They are attracted to the remains after mechanical harvesting and to bird and wasp damaged fruit. Some grape growers blame bees for damage that they cannot cause and others like them because they clean up damaged fruit and help to prevent rot spreading to the rest of the bunch.

For next year, tell the neighbour to cover the great from birds and poison the wasps before the grapes ripen and they won't have any trouble.

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That's interesting John, but I have watched the honey bees pierce the grapes

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24 minutes ago, yesbut said:

Bees can certainly chew on a variety of substances, witness the OA staples etc, and it seems they bite other insects which are too small to sting..

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0047432

 

So why shouldn't they puncture grapes ?

I have been told they can't and have never seen them do it despite having plenty of grapes at home. I've seen a large vineyard where virtually every bunch was damaged by wasps but I have never seen grapes damaged by bees and I have plenty of grapes at home.  The theory is that bees mouthparts are not adapted for chewing holes in things and they certainly don't have the chewing abilities of wasps and bumblebees. They chew  the wax into shape and will remove staples and stuff like newspaper eventually, but they take a long time doing it. Honeybees don't  chew their way into flowers like some bumblebees and I would have thought flower petals were softer than grape skins.

Margaret Anne your observation is interesting and I would be fascinated to hear from anyone else who has also seen this behaviour . Was it just one variety?  Are bees learning new tricks.

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my bees fly their corridors. But because of a fence they tend to go up first which means you’re not buzzed all the time. 

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Thanks so much everyone for the great replies. All very helpful indeed. I’ve also just offered to put my suit on next weekend and remove as much as the rotting fruit from the vine as I can to help speed up the process a bit. I think a jar of honey when I go over to do this might help as well.

 

Unfortunately there’s no fences between us and the neighbours deck, so nothing really to deter the flight path aspect - but I’m wondering about putting a sheet of ply up on its end close to the hive, on the neighbors side, to help them get a bit of elevation before they get to his deck? This worked for anyone?

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A shadecloth screen might be more aesthetic and has as much chance of working

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13 hours ago, Margaret Anne said:

That's interesting John, but I have watched the honey bees pierce the grapes

there would have to have been a small hole there first from the wasps, bees can not break the skins even on the softer types

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12 hours ago, john berry said:

I have been told they can't and have never seen them do it despite having plenty of grapes at home. I've seen a large vineyard where virtually every bunch was damaged by wasps but I have never seen grapes damaged by bees and I have plenty of grapes at home.  The theory is that bees mouthparts are not adapted for chewing holes in things and they certainly don't have the chewing abilities of wasps and bumblebees. They chew  the wax into shape and will remove staples and stuff like newspaper eventually, but they take a long time doing it. Honeybees don't  chew their way into flowers like some bumblebees and I would have thought flower petals were softer than grape skins.

Margaret Anne your observation is interesting and I would be fascinated to hear from anyone else who has also seen this behaviour . Was it just one variety?  Are bees learning new tricks. 

 

24 minutes ago, kevin moore said:

there would have to have been a small hole there first from the wasps, bees can not break the skins even on the softer types 

 

Whilst I have always been aware that birds will pierce grapes, I had thought the small punctures were wasps. 

 

Last year I definitely witnessed large amounts of bees puncturing grape skins.  You couldn't see the bunches of grapes! It was so extreme I had to harvest the whole crop.  They destroyed kgs of grapes.  This year it was not so extreme. 

 

My grape is a late black table grape, not ripe until end of March beginning of April. I don't know the varietal, all I know is that it is a very old fashioned one, with cuttings being handed down for at least four generations.  I live in a small township in a major cropping area.  Once the crops are harvested there is nothing for birds and bees.  That's when I have to place the bird netting.  However, the bird netting needs to let the sunlight in, and therefore the bee can access the grape through the netting.  The last two years we have had extreme heat and drought, and there has been no bee forage on road berms.  Between all this and lack of floral sources and probably lack of water, we have to be careful with robbing.  This year in the beginning of April when the atmospheric dew started at night, this did alleviate the problem.  I don't have bees on my home property. 

 

My friends in ChCh grow the same grape varietal and they never have to place bird netting, nor do they have any probs with wasps and bees. 

 

Re bird netting.  The netting over the grapes does not seem to worry the bees.  However, when I do sage pollination and the bird netting is placed over the crop, the honey bees stop pollinating, with only bumble bees present. 

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Posted (edited)

Hi, this photo I got off the internet several years ago sorry I don't know the source. I've never done anything like this, but I always thought for parks, pedestrian walkways and so on, that the idea had merit. It might also act as a robbing screen of sorts. In the longer run when grapes are gone and they are back to regular flight paths, once they get out of this thing they will still fly in the direction they want, so if the neighbours deck is any distance away the flight path will be exactly the same. But if the deck is adjacent this could give some relief if it moves the flight path higher up.

 

 

chimney entrance.jpg

Edited by ChrisM

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Merit ! I don't know why anyone would even consider doing this to bees. Some places are just not right for hives. 

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@Rob Stockley did one like that before he shifted to the Wairarapa, perhaps he could comment?

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On 19/04/2019 at 8:10 AM, Margaret Anne said:

 

 

Whilst I have always been aware that birds will pierce grapes, I had thought the small punctures were wasps. 

 

Last year I definitely witnessed large amounts of bees puncturing grape skins.  You couldn't see the bunches of grapes! It was so extreme I had to harvest the whole crop.  They destroyed kgs of grapes.  This year it was not so extreme. 

 

My grape is a late black table grape, not ripe until end of March beginning of April. I don't know the varietal, all I know is that it is a very old fashioned one, with cuttings being handed down for at least four generations.  I live in a small township in a major cropping area.  Once the crops are harvested there is nothing for birds and bees.  That's when I have to place the bird netting.  However, the bird netting needs to let the sunlight in, and therefore the bee can access the grape through the netting.  The last two years we have had extreme heat and drought, and there has been no bee forage on road berms.  Between all this and lack of floral sources and probably lack of water, we have to be careful with robbing.  This year in the beginning of April when the atmospheric dew started at night, this did alleviate the problem.  I don't have bees on my home property. 

 

My friends in ChCh grow the same grape varietal and they never have to place bird netting, nor do they have any probs with wasps and bees. 

 

Re bird netting.  The netting over the grapes does not seem to worry the bees.  However, when I do sage pollination and the bird netting is placed over the crop, the honey bees stop pollinating, with only bumble bees present. 

Sounds like my Black Hamburg grape.You need to leave it til the fruit are completely black with no hint of red and they sort of look dull rather than shiny, otherwise, they taste sour. once they look dull, they are incredibly sweet.

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On 20/04/2019 at 7:20 AM, ChrisM said:

Hi, this photo I got off the internet several years ago sorry I don't know the source. I've never done anything like this, but I always thought for parks, pedestrian walkways and so on, that the idea had merit. It might also act as a robbing screen of sorts. In the longer run when grapes are gone and they are back to regular flight paths, once they get out of this thing they will still fly in the direction they want, so if the neighbours deck is any distance away the flight path will be exactly the same. But if the deck is adjacent this could give some relief if it moves the flight path higher up.

 

 

chimney entrance.jpg

 

On 20/04/2019 at 7:20 AM, ChrisM said:

Hi, this photo I got off the internet several years ago sorry I don't know the source. I've never done anything like this, but I always thought for parks, pedestrian walkways and so on, that the idea had merit. It might also act as a robbing screen of sorts. In the longer run when grapes are gone and they are back to regular flight paths, once they get out of this thing they will still fly in the direction they want, so if the neighbours deck is any distance away the flight path will be exactly the same. But if the deck is adjacent this could give some relief if it moves the flight path higher up.

 

 

chimney entrance.jpg

I built that as an observation hive. I replaced the side by the window with glass so I could observe the bees from inside the house and the chimney was so the bees would fly high and not bother you when you were outside. 

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I couldn't do that to my bees and still sleep at night.

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1 hour ago, yesbut said:

I couldn't do that to my bees and still sleep at night.

 

Reminds me of the km long tailrace that the cows have to walk along on a dairy farm  between Atiamuri and Taupō. I’m usually doing the regulation 104/hr which is 108/hr via the GPS, for about 5mins and those poor cows are still walking trying to get to their food.  Does it increase some magical property in the milk? all that walking.

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5 minutes ago, Oma said:

 

Reminds me of the km long tailrace that the cows have to walk along on a dairy farm  between Atiamuri and Taupō. I’m usually doing the regulation 104/hr which is 108/hr via the GPS, for about 5mins and those poor cows are still walking trying to get to their food.  Does it increase some magical property in the milk? all that walking.

I have to agree with you there. That cow race , although well constructed, is exactly  in the wrong place and not a good look for the public to be staring  straight at 

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3 hours ago, M4tt said:

I have to agree with you there. That cow race , although well constructed, is exactly  in the wrong place and not a good look for the public to be staring  straight at 

So it would be ok if it was out of sight out of mind ?

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, yesbut said:

So it would be ok if it was out of sight out of mind ?

That’s a complicated question which will have a different answer from whoever you ask . 

Perception and realism are very very different things .

 

Im going to liken it to putting beehives right next to the road . Not the best idea 

 

Edited by M4tt
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6 hours ago, M4tt said:

Im going to liken it to putting beehives right next to the road . Not the best idea

i've got some hives near the end of a dead-end gravel road. There were scouts walking down it a few weeks ago. About the time i was going through the last of the hives doing frame at a time honey pull and brushing bees. The scouts stopped to look through the trees and around the fence to try and figure out what beekeeping was about. The bees had got fairly hot by that stage, and i was remembering the downside of a beesuit clinging to skin when dripping sweat several hours in - the bees were reminding me of their presence.. I suggested to the scouts that they keep moving...

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