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How can I move bees from interior wall to exterior hive


#1

I’ve had a bee hive in the wall of my house for 10 years and planted a bee garden just for them. At the end of the this past summer they seemed to all leave, and a rat or mouse got into the wall, so I had to tear off the sheet rock and clean out a 10-year empire of combs.
Now we have to screen off the vent that was their entrance and fix the wall. My contractor says I really need to keep them out of the wall, so I ordered a classic Flow hive and will put it next to their entrance, which is behind a Rhododendron bush.
They usually swarm in the spring and re-enter the hive, but their entrance will be blocked this year. How do I entice them into the new digs? I have some comb from the old hive. If I put that in the new hive, would they smell it and be attracted? Any other suggestions?


#2

Hi Madeleine, as I understand what you are saying, the colony in your home has died for some reason. The colony sounds like it swarmed and took off as usual but as sometimes happens, the remaining bees all died out. The swarm of bees will have found a new home and won’t be trying to come back to your house, although other swarms issuing from other places might find the smell of the previous colony attractive I guess.

I have heard of and seen small “practice” swarms leave a colony briefly (baseball size) and return but don’t think a proper swarm would usually return. Hopefully others will give an opinion too.


#3

Hi Madeleine, your colony probably swarmed all of those times & found a new home. Each time they swarm, half of the bees leave with the old queen, leaving the other half to carry on with a new queen. On the odd occasion, roughly 1 in 6-7, the new queen fails. That will cause the hive to die out.

The thing you need to consider before setting up a new hive is the looking after of it. You will become a beekeeper. There will be a lot to learn.

While it was easy to have the bees live inside a wall cavity, untouched for 10 years, you really can’t do that with a beehive.

Yes the old comb will be an attractant for a new swarm in the spring. You could also smear a couple of drops of lemongrass oil inside the box.

A cheaper alternative, if you don’t want to look after bees but still want them around would be to build a large possum type box to place somewhere. One with a small narrow entrance.


#4

Hi Madeleine, welcome to the Flow forum. I am glad that you have decided to join us. I am also on the left coast, but a considerable way south of you in San Diego.

I agree with the comments of the other two posters, but I have a few extra thoughts.

  1. Your contractor is absolutely spot on. A wall cavity is not a good place for bees. You can’t inspect them and make sure they are healthy. If the hive dies out, you end up with a mouldy, stinky mess, which may eventually seep through the drywall, attracting cockroaches, rodents etc. Better to deal with it before it gets there.
  2. Old comb is a certain magnet for swarms looking for a home, but if your wall hive died out, it may have been from disease. Unless you can get an experienced beekeeper to tell you that the comb is fine, I would not risk it in a new hive.
  3. I think you are close to Marin County, south of the Sacramento delta? If so, there is a risk of Africanized bees in your area. I would buy a nucleus of bees from a reputable beekeeper, rather than try to catch a swarm.
  4. Even with the Flow hive, you will need to inspect your bees. State and Federal regulations require it when you intentionally situate a hive on your property. In spring and summer, that will mean opening the hive every one to 2 weeks to prevent swarming nuisance to neighbors. If you don’t feel that you can put that kind of effort into it, I would look either at getting somebody else to manage the hive for you, or getting a buddy from a local bee club who could join you in your venture.

I certainly don’t want to discourage you from keeping bees, but you have to consider them as livestock. You have a certain responsibility to keep them healthy, which means inspecting. You would do well to join a local bee club and see what they are saying about beekeeping in your region. I wouldn’t mention the Flow hive to start with, as many of the older beekeepers are very suspicious of it. If they run beginner classes (many do) then take one, and see if this is for you or not.

You seem very motivated, and I really hope that you decide to become an active beekeeper. :blush:


#5

Thanks everyone for the great feedback. Yes, they have left a couple of times with the old queen I presume and the rest of the hive continued in residence. I’ve gotten rather used to having bees, even though I wasn’t able to sample the honey, and my whole yard is planted for their benefit. So I guess I’m a beginning beekeeper! A good friend is an experienced beekeeper, so she can be my coach. Thanks again for the input!