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Uniting Bees Using A Peppermint Flavoured Spray
Uniting honey bees by spraying them with a slightly sticky liquid in order to give them much grooming and cleaning work and at the same time blend or mask any colony odours.Uniting honey bees with a slightly sticky liquid.
This is a very similar process to the flour dusting technique, but is the liquid version.Fox’s Glacier Mint
Among the kit boxes in my van there are several pump action spray bottles (sold for misting plants). One of these bottles contains water which has had a peppermint sweet dissolved in it (Fox’s Glacier Mint).
This method can be used to unite a swarm to an existing colony or to unite colonies of unequal size.
If one or more swarms are involved they are sprayed with the slightly sticky liquid at the time of collection.
If uniting a swarm to an established colony I first remove and dispose of the swarm queen using generous misting to keep the bees basically in the swarm box. I open the main colony and remove each frame in turn squirting peppermint water over all bees and comb faces. When all bees are sticky I throw the now queenless swarm into the brood box with the other lot of bees and rebuild the hive.
If my objective is to unite two lots of bees that are already on frames then I take out one frame from each box alternately and give each side of each frame a generous burst of spray mist and then place in the new brood box.
I have actually achieved several things in this process:-
I have exposed the bees to light.
I have made both lots of bees smell the same.
I have disoriented the bees by interleaving the frames or throwing extra bees into the box.
I have caused the bees much immediate work to clean each other of the sticky liquid.
I have given the bees much long term work in re-organising the usage of their frames and utilising their extra labour force.
Another uniting technique is quite similar, but uses an aerosol air freshener as the spray… The product known as ‘Glade’ is often specified. The two groups of bees being given a burst of spray for a few seconds each, before being physically combined. I am not sure of what possible contamination could occur by the use of the product named.
Any perfume will work in a spray really. The principle is the masking of the pheromones. One of the biggest Bee Farmers uses the airspray method with great success.