I’m in Rwanda and pretty sure I’m the only Flow User here, and my beekeeping mentor has been ill and unable to mentor me, so I’m calling on you forum users (i.e. generally more experienced beekeepers) for help. I’ve been reading 4 beekeeping books and following this forum regularly and learning all sorts of stuff. I got my Flow Hive in March and have been waiting to get bees-partially because of the weather here and partially because of my recent crazy work travel season. Right now it’s a dry season but there’s plenty of flowers blooming because, well, it’s Rwanda.
So four weeks ago a friend told me he had a swarm of bees on the side of his garage wall. They had come from his attic and now had overtaken an old birdhouse and so I went to check them out. Having waited for bees for so long, I wanted them but was super anxious about catching a swarm for my first set of bees–because no one thought that was a good idea. But I researched it to death (read 22 different articles and such about catching swarms) and decided to go for it. (There was also another swarm of bees up in a palm tree about thirty feet, and I decided to not go for those.) The birdhouse as I found it is pictured here:
So I used all the good swarm catching techniques I could muster and got the swarm by knocking the birdhouse off the wall. I put it in a cardboard box for a few hours and all the bees had left the wall, so I sealed up the box and brought it home as pictured below.
Once I got them home:
I did not take apart the birdhouse because a) I couldn’t and b) I was too worried they’d just abscond if they didn’t have a good home to go instead. I put the birdhouse on a white sheet right below my flow hive, but that didn’t work. They never left the birdhouse after several hours, so (and this might have been my fatal error), I put on the second (super) box on top of the brood box (without the Flow frames obviously). I then put the birdhouse inside it, put on the inner cover, and then the roof. So that’s where I left it, for two weeks while I traveled. (I figured the break was good to leave them alone to get used to their new home) I also thought that while I was gone they’d either give up on the hive and be gone, or, hopefully they’d get comfortable.
Today’s update and quandary:
I just got back from my trip and so earlier today, I suited up, smoked the hive, and went down to the hive. Thank goodness the bees are still there! I’m so excited! They’re using the front entrance and drinking the water, it seems. They’re all there (and actually have grown in number) since I left it.
The quandary is that the bees are building comb inside the inner cover. Here’s one view:
And here’s what the second/top box looks like with the birdhouse obviously still being frequented by the bees.
They’re clearly loving their new home, but just hanging out in the wrong place: the birdhouse is their home within a home. They’ve build a ton of comb (that I could barely lift with one hand) on the inner cover. See below where you can see they’ve built comb off the inner cover so it just barely fits around the birdhouse. Here’s a picture of it all together as I tip up the inner cover:
Most troubling, is that they’re not doing anything in the lower box where I have the 8 foundationless frames hanging. I don’t have pictures of that, but I saw that those frames are bare with the starter strips I have there are just as I left them.
So one thing I’m considering doing are taking most of the frames out of the lower box, moving the birdhouse down there and putting the inner cover on top of the lower box, and taking away the second box. Basically that means moving the entire operation down a box and then adding a frame in the space to the left of the birdhouse (as pictured). I think I can fit in one frame next to the birdhouse, but that’s it. But that just continues the problem of the bees considering the birdhouse home, and now the modern hive. Right? Someone please tell me this (idea #1) is crazy, because I think it is.
I could use a crowbar and crack open the birdhouse and force them out, but a) that doesn’t seem very nice and would upset it and b) that still leaves the problem of a massive comb they’ve built under the inner cover which is not in the right place.
_Does anyone else have any ideas? After waiting so long, I don’t want to lose these bees, but also don’t know how to get them to take to the hive and not the birdhouse. It’s a problem of my own making._I know, I know.