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My new swarm has built comb onto the top cover

Good day to you. I have a flow hive 2 in Portugal and I have just put the super on and it is thriving. Previously I had another hive in which I put a swarm which I got from a storm drain in a neighbors house. That swarm died out last winter. Anyway, I cleaned of dead brood and then placed them back in the hive. I never filled the hive so there must have been a gaped of about 3 frames. One day a swarm turned up and decided to occupy the old hive. I left them alone and decided to wait a little until they settled. Unfortunately I broke my leg doing something else and had to spend a few days in hospital. In the meantime my son whatsapped me and showed me what was goinf on. The bees built a large amount of comb in the gap where the missing frames were, and attached to the top cover. I now have a dilemma: do i leave the bees to fill out the box or do i cut the comb loose and try to attach it to some frames (it is much wider than 1 frame). I also need to treat the bees because I have no idea where they came from. If I want to do an inspection I need to remove the cover, of course, and the whole comb will still be on it. May I have some advice please?

If there isn’t any capped brood then you can do an oxalic acid treatment for mites with good results.

Fix the comb as soon as possible, it won’t ever get any easier. When you lift the cover have your smoker ready and prepare to cut the comb off or lift out multiple frames that are all cross-combed together. If you have large enough pieces you can cut it out and rubber band it into some empty frames. Make sure you maintain the top-bottom orientation.

If there is comb that is mostly in the frame but is wavy or bulging you can remodel it or smoosh it into place.

Thanks. I will invite the local beekeeper to come and do it then . I am kind if immobile with a broken leg. Many thanks

So today I decided to remove the comb from the top cover. 26 degrees and it seemde about the right time. The 4 semi circular combs were very tricky to tie to an empty frame, but I got it done in the end, although I’m afraid that they are now upside down, because I could only put the flat bit that was on the roof, on the base of the frame. I put two partially drawn frames inside to fill up the remaining space where there weren’t frames before. Half an hour later the hive swarmed, but the queen remained with about a third of the party. I captured the swarm and put it back inside through the top. They seemed ok for a while and then 45 minutes later they swarmed again and hung out in the same place, about 10m away. So I got some lemon grass oil and threw the cotton buds inside with the queen, added a square piece of slate under the landing board, and then captured the swarm again, dumped it on the slate and they all marched in. I got 3 handfuls of bees that were still clinging to the gathering place and they flew into the hive. It’s now 3 hrs later and they haven’t left the hive. Fingers crossed that was it. It’s interesting to me that a few thousand bees swarmed (most of the small group which found my empty hive in the first place) and left the queen with around 1/3 of the rest. They were so gentle throughout. Any ideas what was going on there? I like to think that the queen told everyone to get out of the house while the rest of the cleaners made it house ready again, but that’s probably me just fantasizing! Anyway, I hope they are there tomorrow, because we are going to have a great nectar flow coming up.

Next day - 28 degrees and the hive was fairly quiet. I was watering the plants and when I finished I noticed a swarm flying around…they had just arrived. All of them landed on the hive and went in. so they’ve literally swarmed 3 times in 2 days, always ending up back in the hive!

I suspect that those 3 swarms were “practice swarms”. You’d think that after 3 tries at it, they’d have it down to a fine art. Maybe the next one will be the real thing. I’d suggest to split the colony ASAP. I’d take the old queen with the split & only leaving one queen cell in the remainder. I would take the split away so that no bees return to the old hive.


Thanks Jeff
I’m going to leave it - the colony was too small as it was and getting a new queen around here is like drawing blood from a stone. They look fairly settled today - I’ll keep you posted.
By the way, I melted two sheets of new foundation wax and poured them onto my flow frames and put them back in the thriving hive. (They had shown little interest over the last 5 weeks so either I wasn’t fully at 85% or they just aren’t used to plastic. There are 20 000 beekeepers in Portugal but i am not aware if any of those have flow hives.
Another thing - just after I put the roof back om I noticed a wasp hovering around the entrance. Untried to get it but without success. Instead, I saw, with fascination, this wasp ‘pluck’ bees out of the air on two occasions! Those occasions were half an hour apart so I am guessing the best is around 10 minutes South - who knows. I have jelled 4 of these things previously and it is known that we have murder hornets here I’m Sintra. I went back this morning when activity was low, determined to get her…and I did. I attach photos - half an hour later she is still alive after a spike and a crushed lower half!![image|375x500](upload://csRLSg4S0kHqwoWEaUBTkR8Hnvq.jpeg) ![image|375x500](upload://bKMDDIi9Fj7wxCGAVdAoIuWeDk5.jpeg) ![image|375x500](upload://92cMaZMl7qQgIuuw2OrodC4Zue8.jpeg) ![image|375x500](upload://m8lAs8BNgYTjZS4Fzx5tHGdBZ6h.jpeg) ![image|375x500](upload://l9Xe3TztdCsdUWGQ3UcrNh2qlGw.jpeg) ![image|375x500](upload://cK0KAovULXINcpa8osTq7cYveru.jpeg) ![image|375x500](upload://A0HUtv48CTNtLiuSnu1IB5aNVOw.jpeg)

I see that the images didn’t upload

Tou were right Jeff - they left. On the positive side it gave me the opportunity to clean it all up and prepare for the next arrivals!

Thanks again for the words of wisdom - another murder hornet showed up - will get it tomorrow

No worries John, incidentally, you wouldn’t have had to purchase a new queen because you had the old one plus the queen in the queen cell. On the subject of “wisdom”. With the benefit of hindsight, you’re wiser yourself.

I have another pearl for you. You can catch the wasps with a vacuum cleaner. You may catch the odd bee in the process, however the vacuum cleaner works well.

Thanks Jeff. There were no queen cells because the comb which I cut off the roof was so small - there was a tiny bit o capped brood and some honey.
I’ll tr the vavuum cleaner! Have you dealt with murder hornets this way before?

bees showing interest now in the flow frames. I really think it may be worth the wax treatment , particularly if this kind of frame hasn’t been ‘experienced’ before. no murder hornets seen today.

Maybe I misunderstood the story John. When you say “swarm”, did the colony abscond?, leaving the hive with no bees at all.

I have used a vacuum cleaner to catch paper wasps, this is after killing the wasp nests with insecticide. I use a vacuum cleaner to catch the flying wasps because the spray doesn’t knock them while they’re flying around, being outdoors. Once they’re inside the vacuum cleaner, simple spray some insecticide in the hose while it’s running.

Yes, the small colony absconded. ‘swarm’ was the wrong term, sorry. And Asian murder hornets are way too big, in my view. Their nest location would be of great interest to the authorities because they then send a team of people, with full PPE (normal bee clothing doesn’t stop them getting you through your clothes). I have no idea where they are coming from so my best chance is to kill the ones I see and they will hopefully not be able to communicate with their brethren where my hive is.


The hornet probably needs to communicate with her sistren, assuming that the brethren wouldn’t be interested :slight_smile: I don’t think they’d be too big for a powerful vacuum cleaner. It’d be worth trying I think.

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This morning, after some rain, I noticed bumblebees having a great time with the artichokes, which have just come into bloom. None of the hive has taken an interest yet. I did notice a murder hornet getting water from some hydrangeas so I figured the hornets must be visiting the hive again. I went to the hive and a hornet turned up - swatted out of the sky. I placed her on a chair and two minutes later one of her family turned up and was trying to figure out what happened - an easy target - two gone but, boy, they cling to life a long time!!! 3 inches long Asian murder hornets.


3 inches long? That IS a big hornet. No wonder you think they are too big for a vacuum cleaner. It’s good you can swat them out of the sky. I wonder if they are the same species as the Giant Japanese Hornet.

2 inches, typo, but big enough. I have been stung by much larger hornets in Brunei -(once on the head and twice on my back). Those WERE three inches and I spent 24 hrs in bed under observation and on very strong medication

Yes Jeff, these creatures are the latest ‘import’ causing lots of worry here in the US. These giant hornets seem to have gained a foothold in the Pacific NW and it’s only a matter of time before they make it across I suppose.

@john_lawson how do you deal with them - other than your brave & spontaneous swatting skills​:rofl::grimacing: - do you have screens on your hive entrances? I was surprised to see no mention of using screens to protect colonies in the articles I read last year, so I thought maybe there’s a reason they wouldn’t work. I could see how you might have to make a pretty big outcropping (of hardware cloth for example) to give the bees as much exit and re-entry room if multiple hornets position themselves on it.

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Hi Eva
I don’t know how to protect them, to be honest. They hover around the landing board (or around the screen) and simply snatch flying bees out of the sky. I narrowly missed one today as it laboured away with a big drone. Fortunately they seem to be content with taking a bee every half an hour or so, so its unlikely to be like those articles I’ve read where a single hornet lands on the board and systematically decapitates hundreds of bees - to then come back and retrieve the bodies to take home. Unfortunately I am on crutches so I am not as mobile as I would like to be but I will endeavour, next time, to try to get a better idea where they are taking their victims. If only I could locate the nest then that would be dandy. I have a feeling it’s pretty close because the last drone was so heavy that the hornet had to rest on a branch about 10 metres away - meaning I don’t believe it can be that far away. Unfortunately my next door neighbours have a pine forest so finding the nest will be tricky. I have plenty of wasp traps around and I have caught a murder hornet in one before but I suspect they are more cunning now because that was a good while ago (before the colony got strong).