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Bee Tracking (aka Lazy Man's Bee Hunting)

If you have only a small amount of time to devote to bee hunting, then let the bees come to you!

I call this method "bee tracking" because it is a passive means for finding bees. You aren't using the active techniques described below. With bee tracking you simply set out a properly prepared container of sugar water or honey and wait for bees to find it. If you have bees nearby, they'll usually find your bait station within a few hours. (The closer they are, the less time it takes them to find your bait station.) Once a few bees have found the treat you've left out for them they will recruit other bees to help ferry the load back to their nest. With lots of bees going back & forth between your bait station and their nest, you will then have a bee line that gives you the general direction of their nest. You now have to repeat this process with additional bait stations further down the bee line. The closer you get to their nest, the faster you'll be able to recruit bees to your bait station and the faster you'll be able to establish the next leg of the bee line.

A bee has to visit around one thousand flowers to fill up its stomach with nectar. With your bait station, they only have to make one stop. They quickly fill up then head back to their nest. This allows frequent trips back to the nest, This is the basic technique for bee hunting. The techniques described below will speed up the process.

Conscripting Bees - Speeding Up The Process

It is an easy transition to go from passive bee tracking to active bee hunting. It requires only one additional step. You must capture foraging bees and conscript them to take your sugar water. By adding this one step you eliminate the unknown amount of time needed for the bees to find your bait station.  You actively shorten the amount of time before they start making multiple trips back and forth between your bait station and their colony.

Foraging bees are very unlikely to sting. They are too busy doing their instinctive task and they don't have a hive to protect. So long as you don't crush the bee in your hand or make wild waving motions with your arms, you are very unlikely to get stung. But, if you are allergic to bee venom, don't risk getting stung with the following procedure.

So, how do you capture foraging bees and entice them to eat your sugar water? Easy. Use another one of their predictable natural behaviors. When captured in a clear container, honeybees will  fly upwards to escape. So, use a clear glass or plastic container to capture your bee. if using a jar to catch a bee on a flower, you would slip the jar over the flower then bring the lid of the jar up to cut off its escape. When the bee flies to the top of the jar, you can remove the lid long enough to move the jar up and away.

With the bee inside, move to your bait station, remove the lid then place the jar on top of your bait station such that the bee can get to the bait without drowning (i.e. bees don't swim well, so they need something to land on). With the jar on top of your bait station, you still have a problem. The bee will still be furiously beating its wings trying to fly away. So, your job is to calm it down. You do this by covering the jar so that no light is visible to the bee. Without light, the bee will stop flying, land on your bait station and eventually start filling its stomach with sugar water. After a few minutes, you can remove the cover and the jar and let the bee fly away. With a full stomach, it is even less likely to sting. (Who isn't happy with a full stomach?)

You can continue capturing and conscripting bees to your bait station. But, once they start making return trips from their hive to your bait station, your work is done. The first conscripts to your bait station will start recruiting other bees on your behalf. (It's the insect version of Multi-Level marketing, but without the sales pitch!) You conscript just a few bees and they'll get dozens more involved in short order.

At this point, you should have your bee line established. So, you can move your original bait station down the beeline. Or, you can just create a second, third, forth bait station further down the bee line. Any way you do it, you will leapfrog closer and closer to their colony.

Precision Bee Hunting

To actively capture bees you need a device known as a "bee box".

Here are links to help you get started in Bee Hunting.

Bee Lining Using Traditional Methods
    - The basics
    - Using a single chamber bee box
    - Using a two chamber bee box
    - Using a three chamber bee box

Bee Lining Using GPS Technologies
    - Using a GPS w/o mapping software
    - Using a GPS w/ mapping software
    - Triangulation and Team Hunts

Pollinator Pursuit
   - Identifying, tracking & surveying other pollinators
   - Native bees
   - Other pollinators

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