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Losing bees from a wild hive


Hello. I have just joined. I have one swarmed group of bees who set up home in a milk can in a shed and are happy. 2 years ago a swarm left and set up in a bird box in a tree. They were there for 18 months made combs and grew to a large number of bees. Recently a number swarmed away then in the last few weeks the rest just disappeared. There are no dead bees around the tree. The ‘hive’ sits abandoned. I have a large garden with many flowering plants. Any clues?


Probably the bird box was too small and they decided to find a better home Maybe ants, maybe wasps, maybe just not in the right location/orientation.
While not an expert on the subject, this action is not unusual with swarms. If they don’t like where they are they just move on. If you searched this forum you would probably find where even an established hive has just up and left

Some shots of the milk can hive would be interesting.


Thankyou. You are probably right. They did seem very crowded. They had filled the box with cone so it was quite crowded.


My thinking would be that the new queen in the bird box failed for some reason to get mated. Therefore the colony died out.


Thankyoiu for your reply


Over crowding would have to be the likely cause for the bees to abandon the bird box. After 2 years it would have been well built out with comb and the colony well established but realizing that for the colony to flourish they would have to move to a bigger home.
As @JeffH says the queen may have also failed or become bird food during her mating flight.
As bee keepers we can and should control the size of the colony to suit the size of the hive by doing splits when it is needed.
A big welcome to the forum where you will find lots of reading and advise. Don’t be put off on having a hive of bees at home for honey production but be warned, it is addictive and a lot of fun and satisfaction to be had. I recon you could also find a local bee group to help if you want to get started.


Hello and thankyou. I wasn’t after having any honey I just wanted to keep the bees on site and give them somewhere to live. Now I know they need larger housing I will look at getting a proper hive. I love having the bees around.


Maybe they suddenly realized it was a bird box and not a bee box! The architecture was all wrong! :laughing:


Hi Anne, One thing you can be certain about is if you have a strong colony in a bee hive then you will have honey to be thought about. I like your concern about giving the bees what they need but it is a natural instinct in a bee to forage for nectar to produce honey, and they do that in excess of their needs.
A local bee group would be very valuable for you to be involved with for their guidance and likely they loan out the gear you would need from time to time. To be a good bee keeper will take up some time and if you don’t give the time you certainly will have some issues along the way. Your bee will depend on your care along the way, that’s bee keeping. loads of fun and so very interesting but also responsibility.