How do I get bees off spare honeycomb from cutout?

Have put the spare honeycomb and bees clinging to it in an Airtight bin hoping that the bees will be suffocated by morning so I can use the honey, is this the best method?

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Where is the main colony you cut out? Why haven’t you shaken the bees in with them?

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Bees can be resilient little critters. Let us know how things turn out for you. I’ve fished my girls out of honey from time to tme and been stung for my troubles.

They will likely be alive in the morning but any that have cleaned themselves off will leave if you take the lid off in the morning for 30mins.

I’d fish any that are covered in honey but still live and kicking out and put them somewhere to clean themselves off.

Those who are never going to make it i’d try and fish them out and euthanase them. For dead ones i’d just strain them out with the wax.

I don’t hold out high hopes for that working. They may chill to death, depending on the temperature you left them in, but suffocation would be highly unlikely unless you filled the container with CO2 or nitrogen.

When I want bees off honey comb, I have found the best method is a brisk shake over the hive. If you do it right, you can easily get 99% of the bees off with about 3 shakes. @JeffH has some nice examples of very efficient shaking in his videos - if you watch a few, you will probably see him doing it. If we are lucky, he might even make a little shaking video some time… :wink: I have never seen anyone do it better than him. It beats brushing, blowing and smoking for individual frames or chunks of comb every time.


For anyone lucky enough to have actually seen Jeff shake bees, he makes it look deceptively simple. His movements are fast yet gentle, smooth yet abrupt. He picks up the frame and accelerates it into a space in his box, then he abruptly reverses direction. The bees go shooting off into the box and many of them stay where they land.

When I do it I’m likely to bump the box on the way in. The bees on the frame hold on tight with all six legs and stay put when I shake the frame. Meanwhile the bees already in the box have been startled by the bump and launch a defensive operation.

Ok, I know bumping the box shouldn’t be part of the operation and I am getting better at doing it. Practice makes perfect and in my case, practice is making small incremental improvements.


Thank you all for your replies, I did try the shake but the pieces of comb just fell apart and stuck them up more. It was a warm day. You know what it’s like doing a big cutout for a newbee like me…scary!
Seems Aussie bees are not shakers! I did pick off as many as possible and left the box open as long as poss.
Hopefully they will have got themselves out of the honey this morning.

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Hi @Dawn_SD & @sciencemaster, many thanks for those comments. @Gill, if you sit the frame outside the hive just before dark, the bees will all go back inside their hive, leaving the comb free of bees. When I take comb honey out of a cutout home to separate the honey from the comb, the bees are usually half dead or drowned. I simply wear a kitchen glove on one hand to hold the pieces of comb while removing the bees off with a bread & butter knife in the other hand. I don’t want any bee guts in my honey.

The bees WILL suffocate. That all depends on how many bees there are to share the available air & how much time it will take for those bees to use up the oxygen.

Try the shake method. I had no idea I made it look so easy. My technique must have evolved. I’m sure I looked awkward at the beginning.


I left the lid off while milking the cow this morning…but my bees in the hive at home simply piled in to add to the problem! Rinsed off bees with hot water and made mead with the tatty comb! All sorted now. Thanks

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couldn’t you have brushed them off- and let them live to try and beg their way into a nearby hive?

I read that if a queenless colony dies out- and there are some old bees left over- you can shake them onto the ground and they will beg their way into the first hive they find.

I may be sentimental but I’d find it hard to deliberately kill bees. I know they are just insects… but still.


You’re welcome, I’m glad you got it sorted out:)

I don’t think you understand our situation, I love all animals and would not kill anything without reason. In Esperance we have a huge healthy feral population of bees and I have only done cutouts where the bees were about to be sprayed with insecticide in cubbies and garages. The bees in the honeycomb were stuck fast ( don’t worry I sat over them with tweezers pulling out what I could). The vast majority of the colony were saved.


Ok - and sorry for the misunderstanding- good on you for saving what bees you could.