Q: We found a beehive in a hollow tree that had blown over in a storm. The tree is in the back of our woods, so there's no immediate threat to the bees or to us. We have checked online, and it seems as if we could move the hive, but we're not sure what to do with it. We want to keep the bees around, as we have lots of flowers. What do you think?
A: I think you need to call a local expert who can look at the hive and determine its viability in the blown-down tree compared with a man-made hive. Beekeeping is not too hard, but it's not something that can be learned easily from a book or the Internet.
When your bees were in the hollow tree, there was probably only one way in, and the bees were able to protect that opening. Now that they're in a hollow log lying on the ground, they are much more exposed -- not only to predators but also to the cold. During the winter in cold climates, bees move around and remain quite active to generate heat and keep the hive warm. A hollow tree protects them, but a hollow log will allow the wind to blow right through, so the hive may freeze to death over the winter.
Many local beekeepers will remove hives from unsafe or unwanted locations and place them in protective man-made hives. Call your local state university extension office for a list, or check for a local beekeepers club. Beekeeping experts are also able to make sure the bees are actually honeybees and not wasps or Africanized ("killer") bees.
At this time of year, wasp, hornet and yellow jacket populations are at their maximums -- and so is their annoyance level. One of the most useful ways to reduce the population is through the use of pheromone traps. The Rescue! brand W-H-Y trap targets those three pests without attracting honeybees.
The traps are nontoxic, so they can be used around people and pets. Many folks will tell you that now is the time to use the traps, because wasp, hornet and yellow jacket populations have reached the nuisance level. Traps are more effective, however, if they're used in the spring to capture the queens; that's when they're just starting to grow new colonies. On the other hand, don't forget that these three stinging pests are also beneficial because all summer long, they feed on spiders and caterpillars.
Another trap Rescue! offers is a new one for stink bugs, which are becoming a huge problem in the Northeast and the Midwest. They are on the rise on the West Coast, too. They damage fruit, vegetable and farm crops during the growing season. During the fall, they try to hibernate in houses. And they live up to their name, especially when crushed indoors.
The trap uses a pheromone attractant outdoors and has a plug-in light attachment for indoor use. This trap does not use poisons. The trapped insects simply dry out.
Jeff Rugg's weekly column, "A Greener View," can be found at creators.com.