Stingless Bee Intermediate – Removing Brood
Removing brood from stingless bee hives can be a useful tool for many reasons. It can be used for transfers, boosting hives, making new colonies with the help of existing colonies and of course swarm capture.
Removing brood from hives can be difficult to do without causing damage to your hive. In this video I will be showing you the use of some stingless bee tools that will help with the process and cause minimal bee fatalities. This tutorial is for Tetragonula carbonaria but a similar method can be used for Tetragonula hockingsi.
Removing brood tips
-Open hive gently. The more gentle you handle the box the more gentle the bees will be. Bees sense your intentions.
-Open hive when bees are working. This ensures the hive is lower in numbers because the field bees are out.
-Take your time. There is no rush when doing this and the more time you take the more gentle you can be with your girls. “THATS NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY!” Same rule applies.
-Take only what you need for the task at hand. Each disk of brood has a certain age of bee. After removing some or all of that disk the hive will see a drop in numbers when that disk would have hatched.
-Work gently. By pushing the involucrum that surrounds the brood aside you push the bees aside also where they can wiggle free after the hive is put back together. Going straight in and scoping the brood out will kill many of the important bees that look after the wax and baby bees inside the brood area.
-The advancing front (Red/deep brown brood) often contains the mated queen, be careful when handling this as to not squash her.
-Queen cells are found on the edge of brood disks in Tetragonula carbonaria. Keep your eyes open when working. As to not damage one of these.
What a great video.
This will really help people including me, with the simple tools shown & technique.
But you forgot to answer the most important question.
How do you stop your hands from shaking the first time you do brood transfer?
I did a low volume 3 way split , just to see what would happen with very low brood numbers.
Box 1 with a little more brood from a normal brood/box split did a mating swarm & was off & running very quickly after a mating swarm.
Box 2 with way less brood struggled , so I did the swap box position thing, still no good.
On the 29/10/16 I added more brood from my Dean box to my 2nd built box from under the inspection plastic this time.
When I put more brood in, from the last of the old & new advancing front, I made a big boo boo.
I saw a mated queen, in 3 days in box 2 with no mating swarm, so I had accidentally stolen the old queen from my original box when removing brood.
My Dean box is now undergoing a new mating swarm.
Here’s crossing fingers lol.
Thing is, these little bees are very adaptable & have back up systems already in place for when people make very bad mistakes.
Even if your hands shake really bad when doing it 🙂
Hello old Adrian,
The great thing is that now you have this mature queen in your box it will advance quickly. Not such a boo boo I think.
If my hive is being attacked by a swarm how can I take some brood and propolis out without letting the swarm in or my bees out? It’s not happening right now but I just want to know so that I am prepared because I have seen other stingless bees around that aren’t mine.
Hi Jordan. If your intention is to perform a swarm capture a few extra bees in the air often sparks a more aggressive swarm, the more aggressive a swarm the more chance you have of catching it.
If not I would screen the entrance to the hive and wait till night. The colony attacking will withdraw their troops at dusk and you will see the swarm disappear. By 9am the next morning they will return. When you open the box at night all your bees will come out and most probably not be happy because of the swarm. Work fast and accurate to take the brood. Place a small piece of propolis taken from near the brood and place that on your hive entrance. Once the box is closed use a soft bristle brush to sweep the bees off your hands near the box. They will find their way back into the hive. Hope this helps.
very informative thank you for the great video and explanation
Hey Nick, great vid thanks. How long can a piece of removed brood last if stored in a container or bag .? cheers
If the temperature is kept stable enough for the bees that are in the brood to survive, it’s quite a long time. 2-3 days. In terms of temperature Dean may care to comment.