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Feral hive in possum box, swarmed. When to relocate?


Hi Folks, I’m really not sure what to do here. Last Saturday I relocated a feral hive in a possum box to my backyard where I already have my flow hive and another unrelated swarm (small) that I caught a week earlier and put in a 5 frame nuc box. The next day on the Sunday I had a new swarm originating in my backyard. Originally I thought it was from my flow hive but now I think it must have been the feral hive. I was able to catch that swarm. Now I have the Flow hive, two swarms in their own nucs and the possum box. The question now is what do I do with the feral hive? Should I rehome them if they are queenless? They seem to be a little bit more aggressive than the other bees including the swarm that I suspect came from them. Should I rehome asap or give them some time to requeen? It will create quite some disturbance with those feral bees - will that effect the other hives? I could do the move over the fence in the neighbours back yard - we’re good friends and there’s a gate. Thanks for any advice!





Pictures: just got it out of the tree; in my backyard; close up of the entrance and comb.


Why do you think they are queenless? I had the same situation. A few months ago I brought down a hive in possum box from tree in our garden. The weather prevented me from rehousing them in a hive , but it didn’t prevent them swarming on the next sunny day. I collected the swarm, & still have the colony from the possum box (plus another swarm, from another possum box…)



Well, i’ve just been away for nearly a week and there a lot less bees in the possum box then there were before I left (and even after this hive swarmed). I thought if they have swarmed that they would have taken the queen with them and that the ones left in the possum box would be making a new queen. So they would be wireless for a couple of weeks. I think the fact that there are a lot less bees in there now seems to confirm that (no new eggs being laid). Also, they’ve been evicting a lot of drones, although there don’t seem to be many left now.


Hi David, what was this photo about?


Hi Steven, was there a possibility that the brood combs in the possum box got disturbed while bringing it down or transporting it to your yard? That could be a problem if shb is in your area, especially if half the workers have left the hive & left any damaged comb with a skeleton staff to protect it from shb damage.


Hi Jeff, good point, but I don’t think the comb would have been damaged. Interestingly, I did observe a few SHB grubs leaving through the front entrance! But I don’t think they have much of a chance in my yard - I laid down cardboard and put a thick layer of mulch on top. I don’t think it’s a good environment for them. I had some SHB in my original, first nuc when I got it about 4 months ago, but I haven’t seen any for quite a while. I just don’t think they like the mulch. Hard to get through to the soil for pupating.


Steven, you don’t want any shb grubs leaving the hive in the first place. Forget about whether they can pupate in the ground or not. You need to get into that hive & sort it out asap. cheers


Ok, I will! Thanks for the advice!


G’day, No worries Steve.


hi scoldate ,
sorry about the lost message that went with the pick . I will try again . This is part of my “highawatha farm” static apiary . The timber surrounds keep the cattle and wind out . You need to keep monitoring your possum box , try to identify queen cells . Supersedure cells may be located on the sides of the comb not the bottom . I would intervene . Relocate the best comb and try to assess unhatched brood age and quantity .I would immediately add two frames of brood and honey/pollen to this new colony with some brood 1-3 days old . Watch and if no queen cells exist , the bees can make a new queen and the new hatching brood will be critical to strengthen the colony . If you can , relocate your new colony 5 + kilometres away from your host hives for a week or two then bring them back if you want to .
Oh yes the pick , hive no 6 ,swarmed and i grabbed it , then split the host hive as queens were hatching . Two in two minutes - amazing to watch . one queen walked across my fingers then disappeared into the host bee box , the second i caught in a queen clip and admired while preparing a split .I released her into the new split knowing at least one queen was hatched and in each box . They are all going gang busters . All three -swarm , split and original hive . I have the choice now to re-combine with each other if one queen fails or to keep as 3 x colonies . I will wait till i see/not new worker cells in all colonies . Then decide .
This decision making is based on the spur of the moment sometimes , having spare nuke boxes and full boxes with drawn comb enables this flexibility , and most mistakes are rectified by re- combining or adding a new frame of brood to a struggling colony .
Cheers The Captain .


Hi there it is David again with an update on the swarm , split and original hive .
First the original hive 5 months later and in autumn produced no surplus honey for the season . all 8 x frames are top half capped honey and bottom half full of nectar . Brood box has pollen ,brood in cricket ball size patches on each frame - Weird- one chalk brood cell for the box and heaps of empty cells . I expect the colony to move up over winter . The swarm are going gang busters in a 10 frame deep and the split is likewise doing great in an 8 x frame deep .All will be ready for rapid spring expansion as soon as it arrives i hope .
cheers April 22 - 2017


An update on my possum box hive, that swarmed. The original hive in the possum box remained queenless and I let it die out. The swarm that eminated from the possum box is now living in an 8 frame Langstroth, which I reduced to 6 frames using some foam insulation board. They are doing well and showing the classic pattern of honey, open & capped brood. Also no disease, which surprised me a bit, because there was some chalk brood and wax moths in there at one stage. I also recently added a slatted rack and a Vivaldi board. Thanks for all the comments!


I’ve got a feral hive that live in a bird box . I original thought to open up but it was going to be messy so instead of fighting with it I’ve thought out of the bee box and it helps build new colonies via splits and if the new langstroth hive doesn’t contain larvae just go to my other hives place a frame of eggs and bingo new queen is produce, Very hardy bees. Doing splits decreases swarm instinct and onto my third go.