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Thread: Honey Bees

  1. #1
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    Honey Bees

    This is my first year with a Saltwater pool using the BBB method. I couldn't be happier with the results so far. I have notice that the honey bees are visiting the pool. They fly over and land on the tile right at the edge of the water. I have found at least a dozen dead ones in the pool. Has anyone ever seen this before and what is attracting them so much they they end up dying?
    Freeform, gunite, 1050sqft, 38Kgal., PebbleTec, cantilevered exposed aggregate deck. 3 - 24" Sheer Descent, Polaris 380, 6 jet, attached spa., 3 Intellibrite lights, 400K BTU, oil fired heater, Aqualink RS8. 2 -2hp Pumps, Northstar for filtration and StaRite for waterfalls, Pentair Nautilus Plus DE Filter 72 sqFt., Zodiac DuoClear 45 SWCG, Polaris 380, all Jandy NeverLube valves, Taylor 2006

  2. #2
    Senior Member MikeInTN's Avatar
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    Re: Honey Bees

    They're being attracted to the water. We get all kinds of flying insects that land (usually on top of the water), get a sip, then fly off. The ones that break through the surface tension of the water usually end up in the skimmer. Hate to see the honeybees in there, doesn't bother me a bit to see carpenter bees in there (or sweat bees, either).
    24' x 52" AGP - approx 13,500 gallons
    Pentair Optiflo 1 hp/2sp pump w/ Swimpro Voyager 150 sq ft cartridge filter
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Gooserider's Avatar
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    Re: Honey Bees

    I am a beekeeper among other things, and my bee supply lady claims that honeybees are attracted to chlorinated water - she says the chlorine does for a bee what booze does for us... Bees also need to have a certain amount of water to bring back to the hive, especially during dry weather.

    I don't see the bees in the pool very often, but if I splash water out, or pull the **** out of the skimmer basket, they will often come over and suck up some of the spillage off the deck...

    What I would suggest, especially if you know where the hive is; (Likely since there are very few wild colonies these days) Provide an alternative water source, ideally much closer to the hive than your pool - I use the bottom tray that a large flowepot used to sit in. The idea is an inch or two deep and maybe about a foot around. Fill it with large rocks so that the bees can land on the rocks and crawl down to the water edge. It may also help to throw a small chunk of chlorine puck into the water.

    If it is a wild colony, especially if it's someplace reasonably accessible, then you might try contacting some of your local beekeepers - many may be very interested in trying to catch and remove the colony to put in one of their own hives...

    The other thing I would point out is that honeybees are relatively little cause for alarm. Unlike wasps or yellowjackets, the honeybee is very non-aggressive - it is HARD to get stung by a honeybee, as she will only sting to defend the hive, or as a last ditch self defense tactic (i.e. you are stepping on her) The reason is that if a honeybee stings, it dies, so it will only sting if it "has to" - This is different from a wasp or yellowjacket that can sting as many times as it wants to, and thus tends more towards the Dirty Harry "Go ahead, MAKE my day" attitude...

    Off topic, but a couple shots of my girls - (not sexist, a healthy hive will be 95+% sterile females, one queen, and a few mostly useless male drones)

    [attachment=1:19z5dqtc]hives-1_6-09.JPG[/attachment:19z5dqtc]
    The hive on the left is a well established hive that wintered over well, and is working on it's third super of honey. The hive on the right is one that I had to restart this spring from a package, and has just finished drawing out it's two brood chambers (the taller boxes on the bottom of the stack) and is now working on it's first honey super. You can see my alternative water supply on the stand between the hives, it's that green tray. The yellow thing hanging down is a wasp trap, intended to discourage the wasps that might otherwise prey on the bees in the hive.

    [attachment=0:19z5dqtc]closeup-1.JPG[/attachment:19z5dqtc]
    This is a shot of some of the coming and going at the hive entrance - taken from about a foot from the hive, while wearing NO protective gear (As I said, honeybees are non-agressive, you don't bother them, they won't bother you...) The one returning to the hive with the big yellow blobs on her legs has been out foraging, the blobs are pollen that she collected while on the flowers. Seeing a reasonable number of bees carrying pollen back to the hive tells me that the hive is healthy and raising lots of baby bees, as the primary use of pollen is to feed the brood, and the bees don't bring it back if there are no babies to feed.

    Gooserider
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    Free-form Inground gunnite pool, Estimated 16-17K gallons. New Pentair TR60 ClearPro 24" sand filter and Compupool CPSC-48 SWG, Hayward Mod SP1607X10 Pump w/ 1HP replacement motor, 1.5" plumbing all over, Polaris Pressure side cleaner w/ booster pump, pool is more than 20 yrs old, less than 35. Not painted, deteriorating tile surround.

    I am paraplegic, get in/out of pool w/ S.R. SMITH PAL portable pool lift (significantly modified)

    Sand filter replaced aged Purex DE filter that was hard to maintain.

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    Senior Member MikeInTN's Avatar
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    Re: Honey Bees

    Outstanding info, gooserider. Thanks for sharing! I've always found beekeeping fascinating.
    24' x 52" AGP - approx 13,500 gallons
    Pentair Optiflo 1 hp/2sp pump w/ Swimpro Voyager 150 sq ft cartridge filter
    Intex 8110 SWCG
    "Fear the Schnauz!"

  5. #5
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    Re: Honey Bees

    Thanks for the great information. This is not a new pool. We have had it for 17 years. It was renovated last fall and we changed to a saltwater and BBB method. We never had honey bees before this year. At first, I though it was because we had a very heavy pollen spring here. There was visible yellow pollen along the edge of the water. But that has been gone for more than a month now and they are still coming. There are always at least 6-8 bees there at any one time. I am not worried about them or afraid of them, as they don't bother you, but I hate to see them die in the pool.
    Freeform, gunite, 1050sqft, 38Kgal., PebbleTec, cantilevered exposed aggregate deck. 3 - 24" Sheer Descent, Polaris 380, 6 jet, attached spa., 3 Intellibrite lights, 400K BTU, oil fired heater, Aqualink RS8. 2 -2hp Pumps, Northstar for filtration and StaRite for waterfalls, Pentair Nautilus Plus DE Filter 72 sqFt., Zodiac DuoClear 45 SWCG, Polaris 380, all Jandy NeverLube valves, Taylor 2006

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    Senior Member MikeInTN's Avatar
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    Re: Honey Bees

    I've been noticing i'm seeing more honeybees in the yard, more so than in years past. I chalked it up to the profusion of clover I've gotten in my yard this year (and the yards around me). I love it for my flowers and tomatoes, for sure!
    24' x 52" AGP - approx 13,500 gallons
    Pentair Optiflo 1 hp/2sp pump w/ Swimpro Voyager 150 sq ft cartridge filter
    Intex 8110 SWCG
    "Fear the Schnauz!"

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    Re: Honey Bees

    Thanks, GooseRider! Great info!
    At risk of hijacking the thread...I have a question about honey bees. We too have started seeing a number of them around the pool, increasingly so over the past two summers, which we were very happy about knowing the present situation of the population. We have two bee keepers, each about a half mile from us, separated by pretty dense forest. Would these bees we're seeing be from the keepers' hives or is it more likely there is one in the woods somewhere nearer?
    Thanks again for the info!
    Andrew
    25,000 gal IG Vinyl - PoolPilot SC48 SWG - Sta-Rite 1HP/System3 CF - AquaCal HeatPump - TF-100

  8. #8
    Senior Member Gooserider's Avatar
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    Re: Honey Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by andrewg
    Thanks, GooseRider! Great info!
    At risk of hijacking the thread...I have a question about honey bees. We too have started seeing a number of them around the pool, increasingly so over the past two summers, which we were very happy about knowing the present situation of the population. We have two bee keepers, each about a half mile from us, separated by pretty dense forest. Would these bees we're seeing be from the keepers' hives or is it more likely there is one in the woods somewhere nearer?
    Thanks again for the info!
    Honeybees will forage up to five miles from the hive if they need to, but they operate on a fairly decent distance / nectar strength formula to get them the most goodies with the least possible amount of flight. I would have thought that the bees would have found enough forage in the woods to keep them from getting as far as your house, but a lot depends on how many hives your keepers are running, and the amount of competition for forage closer in.

    It is also entirely possible that one of the beekeepers had a hive swarm on him and the new hive set up housekeeping in the woods closer to your house... One of the biggest differences between beekeeping and any other form of animal husbandry is that any of the other critters people raise have a big difference between the domestic varieties, and their wild cousins. The domestic varieties, with few exceptions, can't make it in the wild. However there is NO difference between the "wild" and "domestic" honeybee - I can capture a wild swarm and put it in my hive, or one of my hives could swarm and the new colony move into a wild place and it would make no difference... Essentially a beekeeper is a "landlord" - I put up housing for my bees, they hopefully will find it nice enough to stay, and make lots of honey, of which I will get about a third as "rent". I will do various things to manipulate the hive into hopefully doing what I want, but the bees decide.

    One of the things that makes it easier is to think of the hive as the "creature" rather than the individual bees. The way that the hive reproduces is to swarm, which it will do if the bees feel over-crowded. They will raise a new queen, and just before she hatches, the old queen and most of the existing workforce will take off and look for new digs... I try to keep this from happening as it means I loose a lot of my workforce for several weeks while the swarm hive rebuilds, but I can't always stop it...

    However, these days there are enough new parasites and bee diseases that most wild colonies won't last more than a year or so, which makes them fairly rare. OTOH, if a colony builds a hive and then dies, it is not unusual for a new swarm to find the remains of the old hive and move in... Thus you may have one or more "wild" colonies in your area. If you really want to find out, you can try "beelining" which is a trick the old timers used to use to find bee-trees - takes patience and good eyesight, but can be fun...

    Gooserider
    Free-form Inground gunnite pool, Estimated 16-17K gallons. New Pentair TR60 ClearPro 24" sand filter and Compupool CPSC-48 SWG, Hayward Mod SP1607X10 Pump w/ 1HP replacement motor, 1.5" plumbing all over, Polaris Pressure side cleaner w/ booster pump, pool is more than 20 yrs old, less than 35. Not painted, deteriorating tile surround.

    I am paraplegic, get in/out of pool w/ S.R. SMITH PAL portable pool lift (significantly modified)

    Sand filter replaced aged Purex DE filter that was hard to maintain.

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    Re: Honey Bees

    More great info! Thanks!
    Andrew
    25,000 gal IG Vinyl - PoolPilot SC48 SWG - Sta-Rite 1HP/System3 CF - AquaCal HeatPump - TF-100

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    Senior Member 98xc600's Avatar
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    Re: Honey Bees

    I happened to find a wild colony living in a pine tree in my woods, been there for 3 years now a friend of mine is a beekeeper as well and would love to be here when they swarm to get some of the disease resistant genetics this hive must have to make it for 3 years.
    What I do to keep them in one area around the pool is to put a sponge on top of the skimmer the water splashing out of the hole on top of the skimmer keeps it wet all the time and very few are in the pool. Some days it's covered with so many bees you can hardly see the sponge.

    This is the hive.

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  11. #11
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    Re: Honey Bees

    Fabulous thread, I've always found it interesting too....

    I've never been stung by anything except a mosquito. We get paper wasps and yellow jackets, bumble bees... VERY RARELY do I see a honey bee.
    Helpful links: Pool School; CYA/Chlorine Chart
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  12. #12
    Senior Member Gooserider's Avatar
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    Re: Honey Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by 98xc600
    I happened to find a wild colony living in a pine tree in my woods, been there for 3 years now a friend of mine is a beekeeper as well and would love to be here when they swarm to get some of the disease resistant genetics this hive must have to make it for 3 years.
    What I do to keep them in one area around the pool is to put a sponge on top of the skimmer the water splashing out of the hole on top of the skimmer keeps it wet all the time and very few are in the pool. Some days it's covered with so many bees you can hardly see the sponge.

    This is the hive.
    That is a cool find... Definitely there is a lot of interest in some of the genetic potential of the feral colonies.

    It would be non-trivial, but depending on just where in the tree the hive is, it might not be to bad to recover it and capture the bees back into standard hives... Essentially it would involve cutting down the tree and extracting that section of the trunk while disturbing it as little as possible - likely would need some good equipment. Then once you get the trunk home, either gradually encouraging the bees to move into a new hive, or splitting it and moving everything at once w/ lots of smoke and mess (along with a high risk of killing the queen) However that is really not a topic for the pool forum.

    Gooserider
    Free-form Inground gunnite pool, Estimated 16-17K gallons. New Pentair TR60 ClearPro 24" sand filter and Compupool CPSC-48 SWG, Hayward Mod SP1607X10 Pump w/ 1HP replacement motor, 1.5" plumbing all over, Polaris Pressure side cleaner w/ booster pump, pool is more than 20 yrs old, less than 35. Not painted, deteriorating tile surround.

    I am paraplegic, get in/out of pool w/ S.R. SMITH PAL portable pool lift (significantly modified)

    Sand filter replaced aged Purex DE filter that was hard to maintain.

  13. #13
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    Re: Honey Bees

    Gooserider, it is sad, but the honey bees seem to be unable not to drink the pool water and they are dying in increasing numbers. I am finding them on the deck, as well as in the pool. At least a couple dozen yesterday. I put out a dish of rain water but they seem programed to go to a certain area and drink from the pool.
    Freeform, gunite, 1050sqft, 38Kgal., PebbleTec, cantilevered exposed aggregate deck. 3 - 24" Sheer Descent, Polaris 380, 6 jet, attached spa., 3 Intellibrite lights, 400K BTU, oil fired heater, Aqualink RS8. 2 -2hp Pumps, Northstar for filtration and StaRite for waterfalls, Pentair Nautilus Plus DE Filter 72 sqFt., Zodiac DuoClear 45 SWCG, Polaris 380, all Jandy NeverLube valves, Taylor 2006

  14. #14
    Senior Member Gooserider's Avatar
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    Re: Honey Bees

    Hmmm... Part of what you are seeing may well be natural mortality. Honeybee workers only live about 60 days during the busy part of the year before they literally work themselves to death - and the last stage of their life is as a forager, where they go out looking for nectar, pollen, water, etc... Because they are getting worn out at this point, they will often fail to make it back to the hive, as their wings get too ragged for them to fly. It is getting to be about the time when the spring buildup generation is getting to that age...

    I would certainly say that at least some of the bees that are visiting you ARE making it back to the hive though, as that is the only way they can tell the rest of the hive where the pool is. (via that "wiggle dance" you may have heard about on science shows, etc.)

    I would try possibly putting a SMALL amount of puck in the dish of water, or even giving them pool water, to see if there is something in the water that is attracting them. Also put a bunch of rocks or other things like that in the dish to give them plenty of surfaces to land on and crawl down to the water - they really don't do well landing directly on a water surface. Put the alternative water source in the area on the deck where they seem to be congregating, and then slowly move it to your preferred location one or two feet per day.

    Gooserider
    Free-form Inground gunnite pool, Estimated 16-17K gallons. New Pentair TR60 ClearPro 24" sand filter and Compupool CPSC-48 SWG, Hayward Mod SP1607X10 Pump w/ 1HP replacement motor, 1.5" plumbing all over, Polaris Pressure side cleaner w/ booster pump, pool is more than 20 yrs old, less than 35. Not painted, deteriorating tile surround.

    I am paraplegic, get in/out of pool w/ S.R. SMITH PAL portable pool lift (significantly modified)

    Sand filter replaced aged Purex DE filter that was hard to maintain.

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    Re: Honey Bees

    Will do and thanks!
    Freeform, gunite, 1050sqft, 38Kgal., PebbleTec, cantilevered exposed aggregate deck. 3 - 24" Sheer Descent, Polaris 380, 6 jet, attached spa., 3 Intellibrite lights, 400K BTU, oil fired heater, Aqualink RS8. 2 -2hp Pumps, Northstar for filtration and StaRite for waterfalls, Pentair Nautilus Plus DE Filter 72 sqFt., Zodiac DuoClear 45 SWCG, Polaris 380, all Jandy NeverLube valves, Taylor 2006

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    Re: Honey Bees

    Over in my area (Tucson) they say about 98% of the feral bee population is Africanized "Killer" bees. I don't mind a few of them buzzing around my head, those are just scouting or feeding, but I would hate to have a full swarm or colony around!
    Above ground soft side Omega pool
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Gooserider's Avatar
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    Re: Honey Bees

    Quote Originally Posted by Swimgirl
    Over in my area (Tucson) they say about 98% of the feral bee population is Africanized "Killer" bees. I don't mind a few of them buzzing around my head, those are just scouting or feeding, but I would hate to have a full swarm or colony around!
    The "killer bee" thing is about 90% media hype and over-reaction, with maybe a touch of subconsious racism... Yes the "Africanized" bees ARE a bit more aggressive, but not greatly so. The general rule of thumb is that a regular hive is best not approached by someone that doesn't know what they are doing closer than about 5 feet on the back sides, and 20 feet in front of the landing zone (think "active runway" at the local airport) I regularly go much closer than that with NO protective gear. When working a hive, I usually wear a full bee-suit and gloves, but my bee supply lady normally only wears a hat and veil (she does occasionally get stung on her hands) She has worked my hives in a t-shirt and short-shorts, no problems.

    W/ Africanized bees, they suggest doubling the clearance distances, and wearing a suit to work them.

    Africans have a greater tendency to "abscond" - or abandon a hive and move to new digs than non-Africans. For better or worse, they are also more aggressive breeders than the European varieties, so in practice you will find that many of the southern state beekeeper owned colonies are also Africanized to some extent - aside from wearing more gear, it hasn't had a big impact on those beekeepers, other than the mentioned greater concern about absconding.

    Gooserider
    Free-form Inground gunnite pool, Estimated 16-17K gallons. New Pentair TR60 ClearPro 24" sand filter and Compupool CPSC-48 SWG, Hayward Mod SP1607X10 Pump w/ 1HP replacement motor, 1.5" plumbing all over, Polaris Pressure side cleaner w/ booster pump, pool is more than 20 yrs old, less than 35. Not painted, deteriorating tile surround.

    I am paraplegic, get in/out of pool w/ S.R. SMITH PAL portable pool lift (significantly modified)

    Sand filter replaced aged Purex DE filter that was hard to maintain.

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