Yard Trashing

Ever heard of yard trashing? It’s a technique I read about in the Bee Mags at least a decade ago and I’ve lost the author’s name. It’s a fast, easy way to break down a bee  yard into nucs. On a commercial scale:

  • a truckload of nucs are off loaded in the beeyard
  • no nucs face or are set in the same direction as the original hives
  • hives are split apart at late evening or at night
  • frames of brood, eggs, food, bees equally distributed to the nucs
  • no attempt is made to keep same colony frames together
  • queens aren’t sought out
  • nucs are celled
  • original equipment is removed
  • later, nucs are worked and checked for mated queens
  • any dinks or failures are combined

You can see why it’s called yard trashing. And I like it. It works great with half the lifting and one third the travel time.

These folks at Zia Queenbee Company are working hard to replace my failing queens. They rear untreated, Rocky Mountain adapted queens and look like they are having fun doing it.

Well, my new equipment is ready. My Zia queens should be arriving in the next couple of days. There’s going to be a short period of cold, dreary, no bee flying weather. So, I’ve yard trashed my hives. It’s a bit of a stretch to call a few hives a yard. And it certainly wasn’t done on a commercial scale. But the process is about the same with a few changes:

  • singles were used instead of nucs
  • entrances were reduced
  • field grass was placed to obstruct flight
  • hives were split apart late afternoon
  • frames were allowed to set exposed to light for at least 30 minutes per Brother Adams
  • a quick scan was done on each frame for queens
  • all swarm and supercedure cells were dispatched
  • the singles were left without new queens or cells
  • frames were equally distributed just before dark
  • four days later singles with eggs are easily dequeened
  • all singles will get new caged queens

The immediate results:

  • three hives were quickly and equally split into ten new singles
  • they’re almost ready for my Zia queens
  • no bee fighting
  • no confusion
  • all my old rotten equipment is now empty and in the back of my truck

Twelve hours later I visited the yard. A few angry, lost bees were flying around looking for a victim and one bee found one.  There were bees beneath the grass crawling and around the reduced entrances. They were learning about their new home. And the usual cluster of drones on the corner of an obvious hive. I’ve always wondered about those drones. It seems they spend the night elsewhere and then get lost when returning home the next morning.

Twenty-four hours later. No angry, lost bees. Not a single bee took notice of me. Lots of local orienting bee flight.

With yard trashing, there are none of the returning, angry bee problems common when moving hives or yards a short distance away. But if you want to try it, don’t do it in your backyard the first time. Use an outyard to limit any problems that might develop. My experience, climate and bees could be significantly different than yours, which might affect the outcome.