Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

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Zasso Nouka
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Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Zasso Nouka »

We still haven't managed to attract any either :cry:

The orchids are pretty easy to look after, just leave them outside during the summer and they should be fine. Give them the occasional feed but in that respect they are fairly undemanding, we use a fish based fertiliser. Then bring them close to the house for winter and at some point bring them inside so they warm up and flower earlier than they naturally would. Hopefully around the same time as bees are swarming but that's the part we haven't managed to master yet. Going to try bringing ours in at different times to see what works best in our location this year. Dividing is fairly easy once they are large enough, just break the plants in half and you now have two orchids.

We know we have bees living locally as we can see them on various crops so what we have been doing is trying to note the direction they fly off in to locate the hive and place one of our hives nearby. We have a rough idea and will try putting one of our hives in the patch of forest we think they might be located in next spring.

What we have had success with is with solitary bees, we put aside several logs destined for the wood stove and drilled lots of holes in them and hung them up around my work shed, the house and cafe and over the spring and summer they rapidly filled with residents. Here is one hung up by the front door.

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And a video of one I made outside my shed that got occupied before I could even hang it up



We left it there until all the holes were plugged up and then hung it by the shed. They are very good pollinators and it's quite interesting to watch them come and go but you don't get any honey.

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Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Inakappe »

Awesome!
I didn't know about those wood holes. What a cool idea.
Yeah, I'm just going to have to experiment with the plants like you to try to get them to bloom in time.

Btw the bee boxes... do you take them in for winter (if not being used) or just leave them where they are?

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Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Zasso Nouka »

We currently have the bee boxes on the cafe terrace so they stay there all year round as it's under a roof. If we caught a wild swarm elsewhere we'd plan to move the boxes back to the cafe terrace as it's protected from the worst of the weather.

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Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Zasso Nouka »

We knew there was a wild colony living not too far from us and finally managed to locate them by watching the direction forager bees would fly off in after collecting nectar or pollen. We tracked them down to the base of a massive Shii tree.



Luckily the owner of the land knew of them and said they had been there several years and usually produce a couple of swarms each year in the hot weather during spring and we would be welcome to place some trap hives. So we prepared three hives with fresh beeswax to put out nearby and took them over there.

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Unfortunately our kinryohen orchids haven't started flowering yet but if they do in time we'll place them nearby. We've used the swarm lures in the past but they are really expensive but we've read that you can make a homemade lure from beeswax, olive oil and lemongrass essential oil. Apparently lemongrass oil smells similar to a western queen bee, does anyone know if this works for Japanese bees ?

e2a:
Takii Seeds have a useful page on the care of Kinryohen orchids and how to encourage them to flower at the right time.

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Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Inakappe »

Great pics, and nice to be able to find the nest!
I did a survey on my property the other day and found that there was a ratio of about 50-1 Western honey bees to Japanese honey bees flying around my property.
I bought a lure online it it attracted no bees that I know of (last year I saw a couple on it when I used it).
I got my orchids to bloom a little late and as soon as I put that out I got alot more bees around and some were going in and out of the hive.
Unfortunately since I cut off the flowers (切り花)as recommended online and put them out (as opposed to leaving on the plant) I have seen hardly any bees around. Might just be timing - not sure. It was reassuring to know that bees are attracted to the flowers though.
Anyway I think my chances are slim again this year but I will leave it there in hope, just in case.

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Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Have you thought of going for A. Mellifera, if there are that many around Suzumebachi can't be a major problem and they produce a lot more honey or do you prefer the hands off type of beekeeping that goes with A. Cerana ?

I'm certainly no expert so take this with a huge grain of salt but from what I've read a new swarm spends a few days looking for a new nest site and then settles into their new home so there is only a very small time when scout bees are out looking for new accommodation.

We tried the lures for several years to no effect and decided they weren't worth the cost. There are some sprays available on Amazon that are quite cheap and claim to have kinryohen extract but as they are made in China I'm not sure if they are safe or would even work. How did you manage to get your orchid to flower at the right time ? Ours are stubbornly refusing to flower, although the plants look really healthy. I would love to get that to happen at the right time so quite keen to understand how you got yours to flower.

e2a:
Hope you don't mind me adding a reply to your email here so it might benefit anyone else interested.
Regarding the orchids, I put mine inside in the genkan after the first frost (late noember I think) and kept it there until march where I moved it to a green house (one of those cheap tent like ones you get from home centers) and while it was a little late at least it's blooming now so there's a chance!
But as I wrote on the forum I cut the flowers off and followed the steps shown online and I haven't had many bees since. I'm going to halve the plant this month and try for two pot plants so I can experiment a bit more with timing next year.
Anyway here's hoping one of us gets some bees soon and eventually we both get the chance to have these little guys make a home with us!
That might be where we went wrong, we kept the orchids in the house so maybe it was too warm for them when we perhaps should have put them back outside once the really cold weather was over. Something to try for next year, at least with the orchids (as opposed to the lures) you will have more plants each year to experiment with and one thing that seems to be apparent is capturing your first swarm is not a quick process but once you have one you can capture another from it the following year when it swarms and so on.

Apparently there are still chances to catch bees right up until autumn, particularly if there are rich nectar sources nearby and they can build the colony up quickly so there still is a possibility either of us could get lucky.

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Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Inakappe »

Zasso Nouka wrote:
Tue May 02, 2023 6:52 am
Have you thought of going for A. Mellifera, if there are that many around Suzumebachi can't be a major problem and they produce a lot more honey or do you prefer the hands off type of beekeeping that goes with A. Cerana ?
For time, ease and the fact that I have a young child and neighbors nearby, Japanese Honey Bees are more attractive for me. I might possibly try Western Honey Bees when retirement is nearer and I have more time on my hands but will see how the A. Cerana go for the time being.
Zasso Nouka wrote:
Tue May 02, 2023 6:52 am
Regarding the orchids, I put mine inside in the genkan after the first frost (late noember I think) and kept it there until march where I moved it to a green house (one of those cheap tent like ones you get from home centers) and while it was a little late at least it's blooming now so there's a chance!
But as I wrote on the forum I cut the flowers off and followed the steps shown online and I haven't had many bees since. I'm going to halve the plant this month and try for two pot plants so I can experiment a bit more with timing next year.
Anyway here's hoping one of us gets some bees soon and eventually we both get the chance to have these little guys make a home with us!
That might be where we went wrong, we kept the orchids in the house so maybe it was too warm for them when we perhaps should have put them back outside once the really cold weather was over. Something to try for next year, at least with the orchids (as opposed to the lures) you will have more plants each year to experiment with and one thing that seems to be apparent is capturing your first swarm is not a quick process but once you have one you can capture another from it the following year when it swarms and so on.
Yeah, apparently if inside is too warm inside they won't bloom when you take them outside again.

Anyway, just to add, with the cut flowers I've had a few more bees coming back and going in and out of the hive. It's relaxing just sitting down and watching them go in and out. They might not bring the family with them yet but at least some of them know it's there.. I think they`re just using it as a retreat for now :D

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Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Zasso Nouka »

Inakappe wrote:
Mon May 08, 2023 1:59 pm
Yeah, apparently if inside is too warm inside they won't bloom when you take them outside again.
The inside of our house rarely drops below 25C for most of the winter so will have to find somewhere cooler to keep them
Inakappe wrote:
Mon May 08, 2023 1:59 pm
Anyway, just to add, with the cut flowers I've had a few more bees coming back and going in and out of the hive. It's relaxing just sitting down and watching them go in and out. They might not bring the family with them yet but at least some of them know it's there.. I think they`re just using it as a retreat for now :D
All is not lost if you are still getting scout bees, at least if they do swarm they will already know about your hive :dance:

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Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Zasso Nouka »

A bit late but as they were on sale and we haven't caught any swarms yet we bought a couple of the bee lures.

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Only to discover these aren't the original ones but a copy so not sure if they will work or not and it's quite late in the season so even if they do contain the right pheromones they still might not work.

So here is one of them pinned to a waiting hive.

Image

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Re: Adventures in Japanese Bee (Apis Cerana) Keeping

Post by Sound556 »

Hi there!
I might shed some light on 'luring' bees.
Ive been playing with bees for around 9 years through my life. And what i found is : the 'hive lures' are utter money wasters. They dont attract what a bee scout is looking for. the best i can explain is : if you have a hive , watch for the red sticky goo they make on either the sides of the hive or the entrance. its propolis its aroma is very strong and extremely sticky they use it to keep micro organismes at bay aaannnnddd to create a 'hive smell'.
If you have an empty hive box rub some of that bad boy in with the red stuff and used beewax from an active hive. doesnt have to be much. just enough to tell the bees its been used in the past and can be used now.

for more questions about european bees and so forth let me know! ( and bee behaviour)
kind regards,