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Swarm settled in tree cavity - how to get them out?


I’m trying to catch a swarm that showed up two days ago in my neighbor’s yard. The swarm has been hanging from a tree branch too high up to reach. The weather was so cold that they didn’t move on. We hung up a box, hauled it up fairly high, but the bees didn’t move in. Today, the swarm moved into a cavity of a cedar tree. The cavity didn’t look large enough for them, but they managed to squeeze all in. Here’s a picture before they vanished into the cavity:

New photo by Holger Selover-Stephan

That crack in the tree is 6 feet off the ground, and easily accessible. I hung my box near it:

New photo by Holger Selover-Stephan

I don’t think the bees really settled in that tree. It’s just too cramped. But other than hoping they’ll move into my box, what else can I do? I should mention, I have zero beekeeping experience.




We put up another box right next to the crack in the tree. Here’s a short video showing the bee activity:


I have no idea if they moved into the tree for good, or if they are still looking for a new home. They mostly ignore that white box. Two bees went into the hole, but came back out quickly.

Any thoughts?



I hate to say this, but once bees have decided on a home, they will often stick with it, even if you offer them what you think is a better. You can’t make them change their minds. You might think that the cavity is too small, but they probably disagree.

I would either go after a different swarm, or get your neighbor to cut the tree down - which would be a real shame.


G’day Holger, that cavity looks plenty big enough for any swarm. I guess it depends on how big the cavity inside the tree is. I would block up the top part of the opening & set up a ‘trap out’ at the bottom part. A trap out will be easy to do. All you need is a piece of clear hose, a fly wire funnel, a bee box, a frame of brood & a few empty frames. Also some silicone to set the hose in so the bees only have one way out. You can jam some old rags in the top part of the crack.

Be sure to do it early in the day after it has warmed up because your going to leave the frame of brood out for a little while until it gets a covering of bees on it, then place it inside the box. Then put the box entrance as close as possible to the gap in the tree.

The bees will slowly exit out of the tree & slowly fill the box up. You may not get the queen so it’s important to make sure the frame of brood contains eggs & young larvae. If the queen does come out, the bees will most likely tear any queen cells that they started down.

Anyway that’s something to consider. Good luck with that, cheers.


Hi Dawn, Jeff,

Thanks to both of you for your input. I spoke to a local beekeeper, and he was of the same opinion: the bees have moved into that tree. Which is fine with me, if they can be happy there and build a healthy colony. I’ll discuss it with the neighbor tomorrow, but I don’t think he has anything against the bees there. Maybe there is a bigger cavity that can’t be seen from outside. Unless the neighbor wants them out, I won’t build a ‘trap out’, and just leave them be. It’s actually cool that they found a natural home.

Thanks again, so good to have the input of the experienced.