Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

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Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Zasso Nouka » Thu Mar 15, 2018 6:29 am

So, we've decided to have a go at capturing and keeping some Japanese bees this year and have ordered up a starter set from the Kyoto Weekend Beekeepers that includes a set of capture hives, some Japanese beeswax, an instructional book and DVD as well as sachets of artificial pheromone that mimics the Kinryouhen orchid that Japanese bees seem so enamoured of. We also ordered some of the metal stands they sell that provide extra entrance and exit points for the hive along with making hive inspection quite easy.

You don't have to buy the hives if you have some free time to make them as they provide complete instructions on how to make the hive boxes yourself both on their site and associated youtube channel Mituro36 Nest Box DIY Playlist but it's probably worth purchasing the beeswax and pheromone sachets to increase the likelihood of capturing a swarm.

We plan to set the hives out once they arrive and hopefully will capture a swarm soon after. Any hives that do capture bees will need to be expanded to at least four nest boxes or more so will make up some extra boxes while waiting for spring swarms to emerge.

From what I've been reading Japanese honeybees require a lot less attention than European bees and don't need the regular inspections that Apis Mellifera require plus they are ideal for us as we have lots of the giant Asian Hornets living in the surrounding forest.

Will update this thread once the starter kits arrive next week.

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Re: Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by paradoxbox » Fri Mar 16, 2018 3:59 am

Please keep a detailed video or photo record of this if you can. I will be following this very carefully.

IMO Beekeeping is one of the most wonderful hobbies people in the countryside can undertake, and it's providing an incredibly important service to society in general with the recent global decimation of bee populations and resultant pollination problems.

I'm particularly interested in hearing how you cope with humidity, fungal issues, predators like the damned suzumebachi, and overwintering.

If I can be of any help, let me know. I have gotten some experience with western bees and have also done some experimentation with several kinds of hives and special mechanisms for colony control (i.e. 1 way entrances).

Any plans to try out a flow-hive? I am not sure if JP bees produce enough honey to make them work well, but they're not super expensive so it might be nice to have one and just get some honey on tap from time to time.

Be sure to brew up some mead if you get enough honey from your first season!

Will be watching this thread with anticipation!

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Re: Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Zasso Nouka » Fri Mar 16, 2018 6:10 am

Thanks man,

I've been following Mituro36's channel on Youtube for several years now and watched the evolution of his hives, one of the best innovations seems to be the new base stand that has several entrance points. This gives Apis Cerana an important defence against Suzumebachi as they can use other entrances while one of the hornets is around as they don't normally try to rush out and attack so they don't get slaughtered en masse like European bees. One or two workers might get killed but the rest just stay in the hive and wait till the Hornet leaves and as the wasps can't get into the hive they eventually give up and go away.

Keeping Japanese bees seems to be perfect for our situation as they don't require regular inspections and should actually be left alone as much as possible, so they are perfect for the 'lazy' beekeeper. They don't suffer from most of the pests and diseases western bees suffer from and are totally adapted for the climate here.

This year we are just going to go with the ordinary Japanese hives while we get used to keeping them but may try a flow hive later on once we have got some experience keeping Japanese native bees.

I'll happily take any advice you may have to offer on the subject as this is a first time for us. One thing I'm not sure of at the moment is the best places to locate the starter hives in order to capture a wild swarm, I've got a couple of nice spots sorted to move the hives too once we've captured a swarm but am wondering where the best location might be to initially capture a swarm. Like would it be good to site them in the middle of our hatake or maybe deep in the forest or down by the tanbo ? Curiously enough one place that was mentioned on the Kyoto beekeepers website was graveyards as bees like to make their nests in tombs for some reason. Any thoughts on a good spot to place the hives initially that would increase the chances of catching a wild swarm ? We have three starter hives coming next week.

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Re: Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by gonbechan » Fri Mar 16, 2018 7:20 am

I think with Apis Cerano, the most important thing is to have the hives on a raised metal frame to protect from small hive beetle.
You can also use beneficial nematodes around the base of the hive.

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Re: Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Zasso Nouka » Fri Mar 16, 2018 1:19 pm

They sell some pretty neat metal hives stands, I'm thinking of getting a welding rig maybe later this year and will be able to make our own up then but in the mean time we ordered 3 from the Weekend beekeepers shop. You can see them demonstrated here



I reckon putting a bit of vaseline on the legs to deter ants and beetles might be beneficial. They also make hive inspection easy because you can slide the baseboard out and point a smartphone or digital camera up underneath and take a picture of the inside of the hive so you can see how full it is.

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Re: Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Caleb Fuller » Fri Mar 16, 2018 8:38 pm

I built a rather nice Warré style hive a couple of years ago, but never actually got any bees. The price of buying a starter colony here made me try for luring a swarm for two years, using beeswax and lemongrass oil, but no luck at all...

If I can afford it, I'll probably buy some European bees this spring. Not that I would have complained if I lured Japanese bees instead...

I do suspect a Warré hive would actually be suitable for both Mellifera and Cerana, given that it is similar in dimensions and style to the traditional Japanese hives. I'm sure than Apis Cerana can adapt to top bars vs the crosspiece they use here.

Anyway, good luck with your own venture. I hope you have more luck luring a swarm than me!
Warre Hive 1.jpg
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Re: Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Zasso Nouka » Sat Mar 17, 2018 6:08 am

Man that is a sweet beehive, you've got some pretty awesome carpentry skills to build something as good as that. It's a top quality build.

From what I've been reading the chances of attracting a swarm are fairly low at the best of times, unless you know the location of a mature colony to place your empty hive near and seems to be as much a matter of luck as anything else. If you do get a swarm of Apis Mellifera this year and could spare the time to make a thread/topic it would be great to how you do it as we originally wanted to keep western honeybees but can't because of the number of suzumebachi living in our surrounding forest.

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Re: Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Zasso Nouka » Sat Mar 17, 2018 12:47 pm

Not necessarily related to keeping Japanese honeybees but an interesting development nevertheless



Maybe it could be developed for any hive and we might even give something similar a try once we have several hives up and running.

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Re: Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Zasso Nouka » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:36 am

Well the starter kits arrived yesterday and we couldn't resist putting them together

Image

They are very well made and I can see how the thick sides should provide good insulation both in summer and winter

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The metal base is well thought out and allows the bees extra entrance and exit points through the mesh at the sides and back as well as the main entrance at the front but keeps suzumebachi out. Apparently the base also allows extra ventilation for the hive in summer but I'm not sure how that works.

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Plus you have the pheromone attractant and beeswax which should hopefully increase the likelihood of capturing a swarm.

Image

So now we are checking the Bee Map daily to see when swarms have been seen in our area, so far we haven't seen any worker bees on the flowers in our garden but hopefully they will be out and about soon.

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Re: Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Caleb Fuller » Tue Mar 20, 2018 6:11 pm

Cool! What are the dimensions of the boxes?

Are you going to be nadiring the boxes as the swarm fills them, Warre style?

Now you just need to attract a swarm! Good luck :-)

PS Thanks for the compliment on my carpentry. I have built quite a lot of stuff over the years... I guess the practice is paying off.

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