Bees in the attic

Hello, I made the mistake of not putting the inner cover with a hole it on top of my first super. The bees have made their way to the roof space and built comb there. My question it what to do? Should I leave for now, and at the end of the summer put on a second super and add the inner cover. the bees will move into the hive? Or do I scrape off and collect the comb and shake off bees into the hive? I’d like to leave them alone and not have to disturb if possible. thanks.

Personally, I would remove it and put the inner cover on top of the Flow super.

You can do a simple crush and strain with the comb, and render the wax, or even make cut comb from it, if it is capped. Messy, yes, but easier to fix it sooner rather than later. :blush:

The problem with leaving it is that you can’t inspect it, and California regulations specify that you must be able to inspect every surface of the comb in bees which you are deliberately managing (i.e. not a wild hive). Additionally, leaving it just encourages the bees to make it worse and may slow them from filling your Flow frames.


I totally agree with @Dawn_SD, leaving them there is asking for trouble. They have been naughty and have to go. :stuck_out_tongue:

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Listen to Dawn!


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Yes I agree, listen to Dawn. I certainly cut any comb containing honey out of a roof/lid. I’d suggest placing the crown board over the super, however leave the hole open so that any population increase has somewhere to go. Monitor the roof on a regular basis.


If I do that, my bees use it as an invitation to build in the roof. I know it doesn’t happen to other people, but it almost always does with me. Perhaps if I used a vinyl mat, it wouldn’t, but I don’t use those. :wink:

I swear by leaving the hole open or using a vinyl mat. The vinyl mat being my first preference. The way I see it, the bees will move into the roof when they run out of room. It’s a type of relief valve. When I see that, it prompts me to weaken the hive, which is what I’m currently doing to prevent swarming.

The only thing I can see is if the bees are moving into the attic in preference to working the flow frames, that would make me wonder if the bees like the flow frames or not.

In that case it would be best to cover the hole until all the flow frames have been filled once, then open it after that.


Hi @JeffH, I totally believe you with your hives. It is just that my bees haven’t read the manual, or your posts. They are totally rogue, I guess, even though they are now sweet-natured.

I doesn’t just happen when I have the Flow super on. It happens when I put a second deep above them or even below them. It doesn’t matter whether or not there is a queen excluder. In the US, beekeepers would call them “ornery” = irascible/stubborn/contrary. :wink:

Perhaps they wouldn’t do it so much with a telescoping or migratory roof, but with a gabled roof, creative attic work is almost guaranteed with my bees! :blush:

Dawn, ditch the crown board, then switch over to a vinyl mat. The vinyl mat with a gap all around in conjunction with a migratory lid seems to only be popular in Australia, however I believe it’s effective in EVERY case.

None of my bees populate the underside of the lid until every face of every frame below it is covered in bees.

I believe that if I used a crown board with an open hole, I would also get “ornery” bees :slight_smile: They are not as ornery as much as they do what’s natural. The bees want to build upwards.

One thing the rest of the world can learn from Aussies is the vinyl mat with an all around bee space in conjunction with a migratory lid.

PS. I’m setting up my flow hive. I’ve altered the gable roof so it sits like a migratory lid & I cut the vinyl mat that will sit over the flow frames when the time comes, which wont be far away. I’ll see how it goes & let you know if bees move into the attic before covering all of the flow frames.


I’m pretty sure you need the crown board for the extra height if using the Flow pitched roof.
I tried leaving the hole open and found too many dead bees in the roof space, almost like they got lost and died there but didn’t see any after I closed up the hole. This was with and without the vinyl mat on the top.
A migratory lid fits snugly into the Flow lid which eliminates the need for the crown board.
Myself, I’ve just replaced the Flow roof and crown board with an insulated migratory lid.


Ok, so I took the cover off the crown board in both hives a couple of days ago and lifted the lids briefly just now to see if there were bees up there. One hive had a gathering of bees, say 15cm in diameter clustered around the hole. The other had a gathering of about 25cm diameter - I’d say covering half the internal area of the crown board. Are we headed into dangerous territory yet?

Hi Jeff we haven’t put the vinyl in yet but have put a migratory lid on our hybrid. Works a treat as they fill it with beautiful comb. We have spare lids and just shake off the bees swap the lids and then harvest away from the hive. We know we need to split soon after that. We leave the top hole blocked on our full flow hive and don’t have any problems of comb building. We did try ventilating it once but the bees just blocked it off all year round.

Hi Jeff, I’d say by the sound of it that you are going to easily beat me to a Flow harvest. You seem to be well on track.

Hi Cathie, it’s hard to say. The colonies I’ve been working on the last 2 days have been very strong with brood right up to the top bars. None had any queen cells with eggs. That’s what I’m trying to achieve, preemptive swarm control before they actually start preparing to swarm.

I’ve been saying that even if we weaken them too hard, at this point in time it doesn’t really matter because they have all spring to recover. Plus we’re doing something with the split/brood we remove. It’s better to split a colony too hard & early rather than too late.

What I’m very cautious of at the moment is not chilling any brood. I’m keeping the brood together & keeping the entrances reduced.

I’m noticing that the bees are starting to make drones between the top of the brood frames & the QXs. That’s always a sign that they are getting ready to swarm. If you remove the honey super, then the QX & see grubs under the QX, then look down before pulling any frames out. If you see brood right up to the top bars, I’d weaken it as a swarm control measure. cheers

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I’m glad for the open hole in the crown board. Checked my beach nucs and they still had to draw out more than 1 frame, 3 weeks later I found 9kg of beautiful honeycomb in one. The other started in the roof, but had built out any available nook and cranny in the broodbox first before going up.
Without that hole, where could they have gone?
Also found good patches of capped drone brood in the brood box. Fortunately no brood in the roofs.
Judging by my mountain hives, I didn’t think the beach hives were that far ahead. They got out of hand in just 3 weeks! In winter!

I’m all for leaving them some escape in some way, rather than blocking it all off. But again, it’s knowing your bees and your location that make your choice.
Roof activity tells me a lot of what’s happening below.

Hi again Cathie, I went to the next cab on the rank this morning & found they had swarmed already. A couple of days ago, the honey super was crowded, but not over crowded. There was no overflow of bees into the lid. So, two weeks ago they decided to start preparing to swarm without displaying the usual signs I look for of a colony getting ready to swarm.

When you say “dangerous territory”. After finding that, it appears we are constantly in dangerous territory with this weather & honey/pollen flow we’re currently experiencing.

No doubt I’ll lose some more before it’s over. I hope they find some nice hollow trees to occupy.

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I’m going to get into the brood boxes tomorrow in the heat of the day. I’m hoping to see strong colonies but no swarm preparations. In that case I thought of weakening them out a little by taking a frame of stores and a bountiful frame of brood from each colony and placing them together into a five frame nuc with a foundation frame (or drawn comb? Or empty?) If, however the populations are huge or there’s masses of sealed brood I could do a split from each colony into a 5 frame nuc box using three frames and adding two more frames to each, leaving the queen in the original. Do you think it is too risky to leave the queen in the original hive? Both queens are less than ten months old if that makes a difference. Last year I took the queen out of the original hive and it still raised queens and swarmed. Am I just going round in circles trying to work this out ?!

Hi Cathie, I have been leaving the queens behind & taking the frames with the most sealed brood, with bees minus the queen & placing them straight into 8-10 frame brood boxes & flanking them with either drawn comb or fresh foundation. Importantly I’m moving them away so that no bees return to the original hive. In every hive so far I’ve taken 5 of the 9 frames out & placed the 4 remaining frames in the middle, flanked by 5 frames with fresh foundation. This is with colonies that haven’t made any swarm preparations yet. The colony that I discovered had swarmed, I closed it up & moved on to the next one.

With some colonies, I’m removing brood only to add to some weaker colonies. With others I’m removing brood with bees. It depends on how strong the bee numbers are.

I’m not bothered with adding stores, there’s enough forage for the field bees, plus whatever is in the brood frames.

Good luck with it. I’m heading off again myself after breakfast.

PS Cathie, I recently reminded myself that all of the sealed brood I’m putting into the split has already been fed. It’s only the open brood that still requires feeding, as well as the bees themselves, naturally.

Also bear in mind that if you use smoke or even the fact of us invading the hive without smoke is making the bees gorge on honey that they will take with them into the split.