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Hive removed from chimney


Late Autumn here on the top of the divide in Southern NSW.
Having my “founding member flow hive” delivered in March I was champing at the bit to find some bees before winter. I joined the local bee keepers club, and they organised to remove all the bees from a chimney that was to be demolished, and offered the bees to me after fully explaining the risk of not finding the queen, and not knowing the health of the hive.
The hive was enormous, and went down beyond our reach below the roof line. Having found no problems with disease, I took a lot of boxes of comb away, and a lot of bees that we sucked up using a vacuum system. Once home, I cut the brood that I could id and attached it to some frames. I included as much comb with capped honey, and pollen, as was still intact, which was in retrospect very little, then shook the bees in.

No sign of the queen!

That was in early April.

So the hive has been active since then, with bees coming and going bringing back honey, and more recently pollen.

I made some horrendous rookie errors, especially with all the wax and open honey comb lying around, and a weakened hive. Once I realized the hazard and sealed the comb in airtight boxes we (the bees and I) had a semblance of control of the massive robbing that seemed to be occurring. I also closed up the entrance to be very small to give the guards a chance of controlling who came in.
I have since read that smoke can encourage robbing for the same reasons as it stops the bees attacking the keeper.
Also if there are eggs younger than three days old and no Queen, there is the opportunity for the bees to make a new queen.

Mid April and they are still alive collecting Honey and Pollen.

So… questions. I haven’t found a queen as yet, but have found an open used queen cell. I don,t think I should open the hive anymore to search for her as we have had a frost in the valley country last week, and enclose the last photos I took.

  1. How long can a hive live without a Queen. From reading, a worker can last between 5 to 12 weeks depending on work load and weather, So if the brood hatched that we transferred to the new hive after 21 days, plus the 12 weeks they live for, that means that the workers should be all gone 15 weeks after the transfer. Does that sound right?
  2. I have given them access to white sugar. They haven’t touched it as yet (in the roof). Does that mean they don’t need it yet, or that they don’t have the energy to process it.
  3. There are some of the original transferred brood that have eaten out of the entrance and died at the exit. Once again I have read that this indicates starvation, but when: before pupating, or immediately at hatching? Could that be that the were on the outer frames and just didn’t have the support after hatching.
  4. Does the change in the collecting to pollen indicate a queen may be present (to feed brood)?

I have really appreciated the forum as a way to learn more about the incredible insects. Thanks




Dosen’t look like you have any young brood in there. Not good. Is there anyone in your bee group who would be prepared to give/sell you a frame with young brood? If so stick it in and see if they make any queen cells. If they do I would be ringing around to see if I could buy a mated queen. When you get her, take out the queen cells, leave for a day, then put the queen cage in with the entrance facing up. I would not bother with them raising a queen because you don’t have time before winter for her to emerge, mate, lay and raise new bees, a mated queen would be your best bet but do the queen cell test first.

Good luck


Your hive will actually take months to dwindle. Bees live much longer if they have no brood to look after.


Good one Rob. I have tried to get a queen, but the local guys don’t have any in stock at this time of year. But your suggestion makes sense to confirm. I’d be worried about disease spread (?), but really these guys have more serious issues!

Thanks Dee for that clarification. The stress of offspring huh?


You may have to ring around the bee breeders, Kangaroo Island, Mudgee, Orange, etc. You may just get lucky. However, if all else fails, look on the bright side. Next season you get a package and move them into all that comb you have, just stick it in a freezer for a couple of days to kill any bugs then seal in a garbag for winter.



Hi Gt, I’d be trying to get a hold of a frame of brood, say 1 every 3 weeks if you can stretch someones friendship that far. The colony really looks like it’s low on honey. If you can get a hold of your first frame of brood with a bit of honey in it, that’d be good.

With a frame of brood every three weeks, that should keep them going til spring. In the meantime they might make themselves a new queen.

The worry of disease is always there, however like you said, this is a serious issue.


Hi JeffH, and thanks for the response.
A club member has offered a small hive tonight with a queen to combine with my remnants. I’ll have to read up about how to do that.

One more pic. I moved the bees with a finger, but don’t have the skills to know if this is capped honey, or capped brood underneath, and therefore drone cells assuming I have a laying worker? Probably too hard to determine, but what do you think?

Thanks again


My first time opened end of shed that had been sheetrock on inside and found the (picture) say it all. Be fore finding the queen and placing her in brooder box before long all others joined her. Cut out a few slabs of honey and egg bearing and place them in second brooder, then moved all to my hive location set-up area. Six years latter two queen replacement and still going. Have helped other beeks to get started. Total of hive now three others four. Have lost a few sqarms. But oh the HONEY.


Hi Gt, your welcome. I only just discovered your question because it didn’t come into my inbox. That looks like sealed brood on the comb. It could be too early for a laying worker. That’s great that a club member has offered you a queen. If you can find a used queen cage & mix up some honey & icing sugar to make a really stiff candy to put where the candy goes & put the queen in the cage & let the bees chew the candy out. Introduce the queen to the colony like that.

Another alternative would be if your friend offered you a frame or two covered in bees, including the queen, you could introduce them to the hive via the newspaper method.


Hi all, we are going to try joining up two hives with the newspaper method.
So the steps as read. we will put the the queen and her hive on the lower box, having been brought to the new location, then place the newspaper down and place the queenless brood box on top with a queen excluder between. The top bees will open the newspaper barrier up, giving them enough time to accept each hives inhabitants. I’m not sure of the next step. Will the top bees move down to the new hive leaving the top hive empty. That would be the best outcome, or do I move the top frames down into the lower hive, or shake them into the lower box, or stay right away and they will sort it out??

Thanks for the responses



Whoa beehive2, can you estimate how old that hive would be.? It all looks such new comb compared to the dark comb that came from the chimney. Assuming good health, how long can a hive continue on before the brood cells are too small due to the remnant cocoons?


That is the best option, once you have used newspaper. The bees know best what they want.[quote=“gtblu, post:11, topic:7092”]
Assuming good health, how long can a hive continue on before the brood cells are too small due to the remnant cocoons?

Most beekeepers switch out comb that is 3 years old or more - mostly because of chemical concern, but also it is getting pretty manky with infection and infestation possibilities by then.


Why use a QE with the newspaper?


Dawn OK. Sounds good. Wednesday is d day.

Rob… Qe to stop queen going up to top box? Unnessessary?


That’s not how it happens. Bees chew the cells till they are the right size.


I always consolidate all the best frames and all the brood into one box


Don’t you want the queen to get on with forming a good hive? Why restrict her? You only use a QE to stop her laying in the honey supers. Just after a cutout I would let her go where she wants so they can set up the hive how they want as you won’t have honey supers on.



Hi Rob, I was keen to give the 2nd brood box back to its owner hence the qe. Probably not a priority!



Rental home in rear yard family of three boys were there four years, on second year they started playing in street. When asked why are you always in street playing, they responded Bees are in our shed. So somewhere in the four years the bees set up their hive behind door number one and door two. If you could of only seen my eyes upon opening door two first. Whooooa is a good word. But pretty much it went smoothly in the removal into two brood boxes. Took six years in my yard with several splits now just managing two hives.


Brood cappings tend to be a cream colour, whereas honey cappings are whiter.
There’s a reason for this - honey cappings are pure wax, otherwise the honey will absorb water and ferment; Brood cappings have to be porous so that the pupa can breathe, so the bees mix a little propolis in with the wax, it’s this that makes them a darker shade.

If you can’t tell the difference, then use the end of your hive tool to take the capping off of a cell or two, and look inside! [the bees will soon tidy up after you] Nothing like practical experience to learn what’s what, you’ll soon get to recognise each type of sealed cell.