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Roperat

Bees around a willow tree

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I know nothing about beekeeping.... yet!

 

I have a willow tree with hundreds, if not thousands of bees.

 

It's currently mid April and getting pretty chilly here in Central Otago. They have been around since early March.

 

My untrained eye can't identify why they would be here, day in, day out this time of year. I also can't identify a hive in the tree or near by (not to say there isn't one!). Any suggestions?

 

My next question is an obvious to ask, can these bees be "caught" so i can set up my own hive/s?

 

I have read a few different threads, and know I need to buy the book, learn as much as i can, etc, etc but yet to find information on capturing bees that aren't swarming.....

 

Thanks for any help anyone can offer!

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No they can't be caught and it wouldn't be ethical to trap someone else's bees anyway even if you could. They will be gathering honeydew which is produced by the giant willow aphid feeding on your willow tree and while they may all be bees they are most likely a mixture of bees and wasps. The other possibility of course is there is a hollow in your willow tree and a swarm of bees has moved in but from your description I would go for the honeydew theory.

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Posted (edited)

Thanks John.

The tree is in the centre of a 3 acre block, and as far as we are aware there are no hives near here. How far do bees travel from their hive?

 

I've been right in there and haven't seen any wasps, so pretty sure all bees. Lot's all over the ground too. apparently, in previous years, they only turn up for 2 weeks a year, maybe this season is different with the weather or something, and the aphids are here longer this year?

 

What are they doing with the honeydew?

 

Thanks for the info!

Edited by Roperat

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They turn the honeydew into a type of honey. Unfortunately willow honeydew is not particularly nice and also crystallises very fast and hard  and some of the sugars in the willow honeydew are also indigestible  to bees. Long-term the aphids also damage and can even kill  the host willow tree. There is a science project running at the moment with the aim of bringing in a parasite to naturally control the giant willow aphid. Willows are a very valuable source of spring nectar and pollen and this is far more valuable to beekeepers than the honeydew so the faster the aphids are controlled the better. Bees have an easy working range of 2 km and if the nectar source is good enough they will fly up to about 8 km.

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