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Swarm in bird box

Ok whats the safest way to get theses bees out of the native bird box?
They were there for 1 to 2 days when I put up my trap with some nice frames and lemon grass.
They started showing interest and then the rain started and continued and now 2 weeks later they are staying put in the bird box.
Should I try and close them in and lower the birdbox down and relocate then transfer to a broodbox?
It’s 5 metres up and the box is very big.
Should I try to use the comb they would have built? I would imagine it would be a lot of work to get it all straight once transfered to a new box.
Open to suggestions that leave me all intact :slightly_smiling_face:

I was hoping @JeffH will tackle this, as he is the master swarm catcher around here.

I hate honey bees in bird boxes. They are a major nuisance.

I think if you can lower the box it would be much safer to take the bees out. You have to try to salvage the comb and place it in new frames with rubber bands.

I once read that you can apply some bee repellant inside nest boxes, and from memory it is based on pyrethrum, which is a natural insecticide. There are also some theories about using a corrugated tin roof for your box, that also discouraged bees.

Nice nest box by the way… did you make it? Is it for cockatoos? Will the entrance catch rain water and divert it inside the box?

Hi Gary, I would be inclined to play it safe for me by taking the bird box down to ground level and do the work there. After a couple of weeks there will be comb and brood in the bird box so the bees would be a bit reluctant to move house. If you can rubber band the comb into frames that will make the bees more inclined to stay, if you can eye-ball the queen so much the better but if you can’s see her in the confusion then bees heading into the hive is a good sign.
Not sure that a corrugated iron roof is a deterrent to bees, Migratory roofs have a flat galvanized roof on them.

I don’t know either Peter, but the migratory lids have a metal roof on top of plywood for insulation, right? Maybe they dislike the corro roof because it fluctuates too much in temperature if not insulated inside. Although if left uninsulated it may also discourage the target species too for the same reason.

My nest boxes are timber and have no hands on experience myself, just what I read. Going through the trouble and expense to set up a nest box for native wildlife, only to be taken over by feral bees is very disheartening.

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The ‘tin roof’ sits often on weathertex or plywood that acts as an insulator where the metal soaks up the heat, or cold, and transfers it thru it. I knew a bee keeper who made metal roof out of the ‘mini corrugated iron’ and his thinking that it reduced the heat transfer, if it worked or not I don’t know. In Australia most would say that keeping a hive cool is an issue worth doing some experimenting. I fitted roof vents at the front and rear of my roofs and that helped in my climate to reduce bearding.
I’m now experimenting with Poly hives with excellent results so far. I have posted a couple of pics elsewhere on the forum.
Now I’m thinking about adapting a Flow Super to a poly base board, brood box and roof. I love to tinker with ideas. :thinking: :thinking: :smiley:

Thanks Olly. Hi Gaz, what I would do is secure the box with a rope over a strong fork in the tree before lowering it down, then I’d transfer the bees into the brood box. It will be easy working if you try the transfer straight after you lower the box down because the bees will return to where the box used to be.

Certainly fix their brood to empty frames if it looks good. I don’t major on that because I’m happy to use brood frames from out of one of my hives. All you need to do is get the queen with all of the brood transferred into the brood box, put the lid on, the rest of the bees will go into the brood box.

Just be careful with trying to use their own comb that you don’t get dead bees, brood & honey on the floor of the brood box on account of hive beetles. Also keep a bee space between the comb on frames for the same reason.

PS I can see how corrugated iron as a roof would stop future swarms, however I agree that it might deter the target species also.

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Thanks will do our best to recover the bees safely. Yes I feel we should take responsibilty to relocate the bees.
A local bush care group have made many boxes for the area. This one is for a local parrot. The entrance has a gap so the water drains at the back as well as holes in the base.

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Thanks Peter I am very safety conscious these days.
What could go wrong?
5 metres up a ladder in the bush with a few bees hovering around :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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Hi Jeff sorry so you are saying to transfer them as soon as we lower the box to the ground at the same location. Will we lose many foragers due to the distance down from the tree.
Thanks I really appreciate everyone’s advice.

Do you really need a list of what can go wrong Gary? Have someone on stand-by when you take the 13th step off the ladder with 12 steps :smiley: :smiley:
I would tranfer the comb and bees as soon as you get it down. The foraging bees will likely pick up the scent of the hive if you place it at the bottom of the tree, there will be some stragglers but you won’t loose a lot. I moved 24 hives 70 meters away and in line of sight in about an hour of the last of the daylight and left a single ‘bait box’ in the old position. The following late afternoon there was a few thousand bees having happily taken up residence so I added a frame of brood and a frame of stores and in 4 weeks had a mated queen laying in newly made comb. I cluttered up the hive entrances hoping that would make them realize they had been moved. I lost count of how many said it couldn’t be done, they has to me moved 5 k’s away for a week, that wasn’t an option or 1/2 meter each hive each day, and that also wasn’t an option. What I did was my only option, it might not have been ideal but it worked for me. I was more stressed than the bees. :wink:

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Haha Peter.
Wow how tough are you beekeepers.
Talk abour physical work.
I have so much respect.
I will give it a go and hopefully it all goes well.
Am sure I will learn something one way or another.

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I’m going past on Saturday morning on my way to the Gold Coast to help some new bee keepers out there and and on the way down, happy to call by if it would be a benefit to you, and if the rain stops by then. At the moment I’m figuring at least two days down there. PM me if you like.
Take you time doing that job and work safe.
Cheers Gary

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You wont lose any Gaz, they’ll find the new entrance. The main reason for doing it straight away is for your comfort because the flying bees will go back to where the hive used to be. That includes any angry bees. Hopefully you’ll get the job done before all of those bees find the new entrance, which I suppose you could place a meter off the ground after completion, or even higher if that can easily be organized. That will reduce the distance for those bees to find the new entrance.

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I was going to suggest relocating the hive for the cut out but the idea that a lot of foragers will be busy trying to find the hive up the tree while you do the cutout is a good one jeff. I suppose it would be best to plan it for midday and and the nicest foraging day.


Hi Jack, after a bit more thought, I was thinking I’d screw 4 strong metal rings onto the bird box to tie rope to in order to lower it down. Then if I wanted to, I could put 4 more into the brood box, so that I could raise it up close to where the hive used to be. Then lower it down in stages, which probably wouldn’t be necessary.


I like your thinking Jeff, it is the safe way of getting the bird box down and to give every chance for the bees to head for the bee box. Well thought out.

Thanks everyone so that’s what we will do. Will take bit of planning and weather dependant will start over the weekend.
@Peter48 thanks for the offer, but I am juggling soccer club and native bee activities over the weekend so hard to pin down a time. Will probably get up and install some hooks and ropes one of the evening first then tackle the next step when my wife can help.