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Swarm/Hive capture and move

Hi Friends. It’s been a while since I posted and my bees are hanging in there! They’ve survived my clumsy move of the hives 100m, the drought and one of the two hives is starting to look right. The other is struggling. It has multiple emergency queen cells, some drone cells, no capped brood and not many adult bees. However it has some uncapped brood.

About a kilometer from the apiary there is a swarm that’s taken up residence in a tree trunk. It’s a great spot for a hive and that swarm is doing very well so well it’ll probably swarm soon. My question is - am I able to take some of the swarm bees and merge them with my struggling hive? If so how do I do it?

We will need a little more information. When did the colony have the queen cells? Do you know if queens did emerge?
Its clear that either your queen has died, or else the hive have swarmed, and you have lost the prime swarm and probably several cast swarms.
How long your hive has been queenless will determine the age of the current bees and their prospects.

If the feral colony is 1km from you, their scout bees will be covering you grounds looking for a suitable site if they are ready to swarm. It would be a good idea to make a swarm bait box and place in your apiary. There is a good chance that they will sniff it out and take up residence.

I wouldn’t as you’ve potential for cross contamination of disease and pest.

Maybe take a frame of capped brood from your strong hive and drop it into the weaker one.

Are you sure it’s emergency cells or are they supercedure cells?

Either way the bees will work it out. :+1:


I’m wondering if by chance the bees in the tree trunk might not be a swarm from your own struggling hive? Either way I wouldn’t set up a bait trap in your apiary but if you have the resources and another location you can put a capture in quarantine till you are certain is is disease fee then that is doable. You should be switching frames off brood from the strong hive to the weaker hive to boost it to keep both about equal to reduce the risk of robbing.

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If you can block and redirect the entrance of the wild hive you can ‘syphon’ bees off a colony like that- if you can put a bee box in such a manner that the bees have to go through it to get out of their own hive (you’ll need a box with two entrances). Then you put a frame or two of brood with eggs in that hive and some empty frames. as the bees go through it they will start to tend the brood and more and more will fill the box. The bees may even start making queen cells if you gave them eggs or very young larvae. After some weeks or a month you can take it away. That’s a type of trap out and can be used to entirely remove colonies from inaccessible hollows. A trick @jeffH employs to fill boxes with bees.

Or you can wait till it swarms and hope to catch the bees. You could put out a swarm trap box with swarm lure or lemongrass oil in it.


Hello Peter and Jack. Yes may be a swarm from my hive and they’ve been in the tree hollow for
a few years. The shape of the hollow and the location make it very difficult to set up a trap, although I’d like to.
I think I’ll move a frame from the strong hive into the weaker hopeand hope for the best.

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Use the resource of the strong hive to boost the weaker to keep both hives about equal in strength. Equal hives reduce the risk of robbing events. You should be monitoring for the first sign of swarming if you don’t do preemptive splits as a part of your hive management. It is much better to do a split and build it up to be another hive to sell or add to your apiary than to have a hive swarm which then competes with your hives for local foraging.

Hi Peter

We’ll things have progressed a bit. Good tip on the robbing thing. I think there was a bit of robbing going on. Last Saturday I took a frame of brood out of the stronger hive and put it in the weaker hive. The stronger hive had alot of bees.

Today I checked both hives and there both abuzz so I put a super on the stronger hive and hopefully they’ll be okay. The amazing thing is the weaker hive is fiestier and more protective than the first stronger one

A though about what your seeing as robbing Caterina, I’m hearing from the Gold Coast that there is a lot of orientation flights happening and they are in big numbers of bees. With the Spring swarming season and hives building up in numbers it is a possible worth thinking about. Moving a frame of brood a week to the weaker hive won’t harm the strong hive. With the Spring the hive might need an eye on it for needing and increase in hive space.


Hi Pete.
Well the little hive is increasing. It has a fixed bottom board with a very small entrance - when I first assembled it, i reduced the entrance with three fixed 10 cm pieces at intervals across the front so there are 2x10cm entrances. Interestingly the few bees in there have built a propollis baffle across one entrance further reducing the entrance! And as a consequence keeping the wind out. Smart bees.

So the little hive is at half capacity and going well. In December will look at taking a frame from the strong hive and put it in the little hive and put in a SBB for the remainder of summer! Pics to follow.

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I am a little bit proud on my beesies.