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Swarm landed in Wall Cavity Yesterday- Anyway to coax them out?

It’s a strange thing: I told a friend of mine who is interested in starting a beehive about swarms. We planned to put a swarm trap in his yard to see if he could catch one. Before we could do that- he called me yesterday and reported hundreds of bees flying into a wall vent at the back of his house. This is odd indeed- as he has never seen a bee swarm in his life before- and just a few weeks after I tell him about it: a swarm settles into his house!

He called me within just a few hours of the swarm arriving. I got my suit, smoker and a recently vacated 5 frame nuc box and headed to his house. When I got there there were several hundred bees flying around- and many more already in his wall- poking their heads out of various vents across a 15" section of wall. We placed the five frame nuc hive right beside the vent where most of the bees were going in- I put a few drop of lemongrass oil in it- and a little honey. It also has a wax and proplois in it- as until last week it had a colony living inside. Bees immediately started going into the nuc box. I then used the smoker to try and put some smoke into all the vents hoping it might encourage the bees to leave the wall. Then the sun set- and the bees dissapeared for the night- presumably a large swarm with the queen- all inside the wall.

That was last night. I am assuming the bees will not leave the wall and go into the box. I guess the queen is already in there and by today they will have started building comb. My friend has to go away over the weekend- so there is nothing to be done until next week. My guess is by that time the bees will have started to establish themselves firmly in the wall cavity.

It would be very difficult and expensive to open up the wall to remove them- so I am thinking that leaves only two options:

  1. trap out (difficult- perhaps impossible- as there are potentially many entrances to the wall - some possibly hidden- and we won’t be able to cover all of them)

  2. poison

It’s clear the bees cannot be allowed to settle in and build a big colony in the wall. It’s also clear that we shouldn’t leave them there for long- as every day they will build more comb in the wall.

Is there any way we could try and coax them to leave before they become established? Is there any chemical or bee irritant we could use to push them out- to reswarm? In Australia I don’t think many beeks use the various ‘beegone’ chemicals folks use in the US to clear supers of bees.

It would be a real shame to have to poison them.

If there is anything I could try over the weekend I would be willing to go over there and give it a go.

I think maybe put a frame of brood (if you have one) in your nuc box, this seems to be what @JeffH does sometimes to lure the bees into the box. He has a few videos on youtube you can watch.
Good luck!

hmm- I have several colonies all building up - not sure I have a frame of brood to spare- but I might be able to rustle one up. I guess some bees will find it and the urge to take care will take over. But would the queen leave the wall a day after she went in?.. I guess it may be possible to lure out quite a number of the bees before having to poison the rest? I wonder if it’s worth it at this stage- what do you think @JeffH ?

Since they just moved in, you have a fair shot at getting them to abscond while they still have no open brood. In a few days it will be too late for that… smoke them heavily (while being very careful not to blow sparks in the wall and catch the house on fire) and they will likely come out. If you have bee quick or one of the other bee repellants that may work as well, especially if you can get some of it on the other side of the bees from the entrance so the fumes drive them out instead of in…

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I agree with Michael. Try smoking them out, but hurry!

Hi & thanks Jack, you can use a “trap out”. Michael must have had some experience with smoking them out in the first couple of days. I have never tried it. I smoked bees out of a cable drum a while back. That was quite challenging. In the end I used a trap out. The bloke who called us told us they’d only been there for a week, from memory. Anyway it was a good learning experience for me. Here’s my video of it.



Hi Tim, the frame of brood works well when catching swarms, however once the bees are in a wall cavity, the frame of brood will only work & is essential for when you use a “trap out” to extract the bees out of a wall cavity. You can do this early in the morning. Set your “trap out” up, sit the frame of brood next to the ‘trap out’. Once enough bees completely cover the frame of brood, place it in the box, with the entrance close to the ‘trap out’. You will get a gradual decline of bees in the wall cavity & a gradual increase into the box. You need to make sure that bees don’t block up the ‘trap out’ & also make sure the bees in the wall cavity don’t find another gap to start using. This is where co-operation with the home-owner comes in handy.

This is not something you want to take on if there’s a lot of traveling involved, because it could end up with quite a few trips.

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Well done jeff- that took real patience to coax those bees out. I will try smoking the bees at my friends house again tomorrow. Having watched your video I am not sure if I have either the patience or time to get it done though. Seeing how much smoke you had to use to get the bees moving was an eye opener. The wall cavity the bees are in is kind of huge- at least 15" long with multiple entrances. I am not sure if I would be able to get enough smoke in there. But it’s worth a try.

@Michael_Bush - good point too- When i tried it there other day I was using a brand new smoker- it works very well- perhaps too well. At one point when I was blowing smoke in and I saw some fire shoot out into the wall :wink: . I’ll have to watch that!

Hi Jack, if the house isn’t far away & your prepared to do several trips, the "trap out’ works well. Set it up at the hole the bees are using & block off all the rest. I did quite a few trap outs in the early days, but it does have challenges which turns into several trips. Mainly the 2 things I mentioned earlier. #1 the bees finding another exit & #2 the bees blocking up the trap out hose. This is what you need to get the home-owner to monitor for you.

I did one trap out where I mounted the box on a brick wall using a ladder (I wouldn’t do that again:)). By the time all the bees were out of the wall, the box was chock-a-block with bees, brood & honey. I had trouble lifting it down. It was lucky I secured the box to the wall good.

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If you can’t get smoke down in far enough, you may have to make another hole to get it in the bottom so it can rise up through or something like that. Once they have open brood it’s a waste of effort to try to get them to leave in my experience and odds are they will have some in five days or so from when they moved in.

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I have read multiple opinions. I have a fairly new hive in a back wall of my house. No danger to human, as entrance is under the eaves. Why cant i leave the hive alone? Two beekeepers i know have said its ok to leave it, as long as the bees are away from jiman interaction. Thanks.

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There will be a long term build up of organic debris below the colony. A whole community of critters and decomposers will build up over time in your wall cavity. Will that be a problem for you?

About 15 years ago a tall structure was built at st Marys Cathedral in the middle of Sydney. I think it might have been a bell tower. While they were preparing for the build, a colony of bees was discovered and removed. The colony had been there for many years and had built a very large store of honey. As far as I am aware, the bees didn’t cause any problems. I do know the church was selling honey from the holy place for some time. It wasn’t cheap but I guess It was a great opportunity to raise funds.

yeah- no- what he said- you really don’t want a potentially huge colony of bees building up in your wall. For many reasons. The cavity in question is huge- if the bees did well they could end up storing large quantities of honey in there- and on good foraging days you would have millions of bees flying out of multiple vents all over the place: possibly even emerging in the house from time to time. If the colony died- the combs would be infested with wax moth- and mice and god knows what.

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I have used the tip from a caucking gun (used and empty) cut off the tip and the cut off the narrow end to 3/8 inch, that the opened needed for bee to exit. Place the larger end in the hole if it fits if not enlarge the hole to make the tube fit using the large end into wall. If that will not work take a piece of foam and hot glue tube to the tio and the hot glue the piece of foam over hole in wall. Bees will exit but can not re enter due to no landing pad.
Or place a small flex tubing from the red box or blue box stores foune in Electrical department of store. Again hot glue the tube to wall, spray with water to cool it quicker, dry and apply more hot glue to hold tubing. Place the other end in another box to rear, this way they will exit tube in brooder box placed in reach of hose to wall.
I have used both way to remove bees from attic of home in a boxed in framed area, did not damage the roof area, the oyher was I guess a bullet hole in stucco wall, both took time but they woked there way into the boxs.

The issue with this swarm is the wall has at least 6 vents the bees can use spread over 15’ of wall. There are probably more gaps they could use under the eaves and into the roof- I think it would be near impossible to block all entrances. … However yesterday I had some tentative good news: the bees seem to have moved into my Nuc box. About 20 bees were seen at the entrance of the box coming and going- with none coming and going from the main wall vent they were using before. It seems like it would be a bit of a miracle if the queen has emerged from the wall and entered the box- fingers crossed that’s just what’s happened! I am going around this afternoon to inspect- and put frames in the box if they are in there.

Hi Evelyn, the bees wont cause any structural damage to your house. I agree with those 2 beekeepers. However if the bees see the slightest slither of light from the room, they will chew it bigger & end up coming into the house. That’s when you’ll probably want the hive removed. Some people got me to remove a hive out of their ceiling between 2 floors that had been there for several years. Everything was fine until the bees chewed through the cornice in the corner & finished up in the room. That was when they called me. I removed 49 kgs of honey out of it. I guess the total hive would have been around 70 kilos. That was a messy job, it’s hard, almost impossible to remove a hive from a ceiling without getting honey all over you. Especially in a confined space as this one was. I well & truly earned my fee that day:)

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Success! Amazingly- I caught my first swarm. The entire colony moved into the box over the weekend all by themselves. The smoking, followed by a nice box full of wax, propolis- baited with some honey and lemongrass oil- proved irresistible for the swarm. I went back yesterday and took the box down from the wall- it was quite heavy - a reasonably large swarm. Took the lid off- full of bees - in just three days they had built a few nice combs off the roof and even had a reasonable amount of nectar. I placed 5 frames in the box- with honey on the top bars and moved them about 20 feet from the wall where the box was mounted.

I am hoping moving the box was not a bad idea? This all happened just after sunset- so i had thought all the bees were in the box. But after we were done- there were quite a few hundred bees flying around the place where the box had been on the wall. I am slightly worried they might abscond now?


I moved my swarms from collection points about 1m & they were fine but for a few days after there would be quite a few that revisited the original cluster point. Not sure what 20 feet is in metres, whats happened to metric? Ok 6 m, perhaps move back bit closer, halfway even…

i toyed with the idea of moving the hive again- but thought that just might cause more confusion. the latest report is the bees have settled in their new location and only a very few are investigating the wall vents. So the trap out was a complete success! This was extra gratifying as I had been told by a very experienced beekeeper that the odds of the queen leaving the wall once she was in were so low as to be negligible. Glad I tried anyway. I think I was really lucky that I got there within just a few hours of the swarms arrival- and that I had a box that had just had bees taken from it two days prior and had goodly ‘bee smells’.

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I have been given a feral colony in a 20 litre drum, could I fix a super over the exit bunghole and then apply gentle heat to the drum occasionally to convince them to move up into the super?