Nest in old to move into hive?

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House Bee
Jul 21, 2009
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Pocklington, Yorks, UK
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I managed to get permission to remove a 'bees nest' from a derelict cottage and wondered what is the best way to re-home them in a hive.


In an old cottage garden, in amongst the remains of several (very) old hives scattered around lying on the grass, were two supers, the top super of which had a glass quilt lid.

These two supers were stacked, but lying on their side in the grass and on inspection I could see they had been occupied by bees. The supers effectively have no frames inside them, but are jam packed full of bee comb and bees. It looks like a 'natural' wild bees nest inside.

The bees look like they have been in there for a few years as the two supers are totally full of comb, some of which looks fairly old. The two supers are very old and rotten.

The objective now is to get the bees (inc queen) to move into a new 14x12 BB... the question is, what is the best way of doing this?

At the moment, I've put the two supers on a OMF, removed the old glass quilt lid and I've put a 14x12 BB complete with frames/foundation on top of the supers, followed by a crown board and roof. I'm hoping the bees will move up into the new BB over the coming weeks and as soon as they do and I can spot the queen, I can put a QE under the 14x12 trapping the queen in the new BB and job done (eventually I'd then destroy the two old supers and comb). This will work fine as long as they do move up... and won't work if they don't...

I've thought of trying to cut all the old comb out of the supers and trying to find the queen that way, but the existing comb will be full of brood etc, and I suspect I'd do more damage than good.

Any ideas, views, suggestions on what to do ? (other than what I'm already doing).

Thanks to rosti for helping me with the relocation last night - cheers mate ;-)
Hi Skydragon

I used the same method to move my bees from National boxes to Langs, it worked a treat, to encourage them up feed them some syrup. when you put the QE on don't forget the drones that will be in the top box, they will need to get out.

Good luck

Seems youve done what you can , I go along with tazbee about the feed, maybe one refinement you could try would be to smoke like hell from the bottom ( driving the bees and hopefully the queen up ) then popping in an excluder (or moving the box asside) before looking for the queen. I'd probably wait untill there was at least some brood in your new box before trying this.
Do not smoke them.

What has been done so far is right. The queen will go up in time, as they just love heading up the hill.

In a week or so have a look and see if there are eggs up there, if so pop in the excluder and look in a three days to see if there are more fresh ones in there.

If not take the excluder out and try again.

If they are strong and working at the tops of the supers you could also add a frame of brood to your new box,may help to encourage them up a bit faster.
I still think driving them up with smoke then putting the box asside and waiting for the flyers to go back to the original site leaving the queen easilly found amongst afew bees is a much better scheme than going backwards and forwards putting excluders in and out as polyhive suggests as with that scheme you run the risk of the queen laughing at you while she dives into her wiggly wild comb hiding place every time she hears your car pull up
mbc? What I suggested above is what I have done myself many times. It works.

Smoking and trying to find an elusive queen in amongst wild comb runs a high risk of killing the queen either by scaring her into flying, and yes she will, or crushing her by ham fisted handling of the combs.

Let the bees do the work. KISS.

I wasnt suggesting looking for the queen in the wild comb - the opposite in fact - driving/encouraging the queen out of the wild comb then looking for her in the new 14-12 away from the majority of the flying bees
Polyhive , I'm sure your method works given enough time providing the qx is put in when the q is in the new box - I just think it would save time to improve the likelyhood shes up there
but that is the precise point. If you do it my way you will KNOW where she is. Assuming of course you can see eggs and judge how old they are it can be done in a day or so.

If you smoke like crazy she may or may not go up, remember there are not just one box involved in this but two so there is utterly no guarantee she will go up with smoke.

However given some peace she will go up herself. No need to force the issue at all, she will do it quietly and happily all by her self.

Sometimes the easy way is the hard way, it's hard NOT to interfere. Mind you it's taken me many years to learn that one. Often to my cost.

But horses can only be taken to water, what happens next is entirely up to them.

Is there any rush here. If so and it is important to get the job done quickly do as mbc suggests.

If no need to force matters, Poly Hive has the preferred method IMO.

As I see it you have the rest of the summer to achieve your target?

KISS works. Need I say more?

Regards, RAB
There is absolutely no rush and no need to take risks. I'll leave things as they are and inspect the 14x12 in a week or two's time.

It' a lovely day here today and the 'new' hive is in full activity with lots of bees on orientation flights, etc. So things look good so far.
Quick update;

Had a very quick inspection this afternoon of the new top 14x12 BB to see if there were any signs of them drawing out the foundation...and I'm glad I did.

Because I'd put the 14x12 BB straight on top of the wild hive comb, all they had done was build up the wild comb onto the bottom of most of the 14x12frames....

After gently prising the whole mess apart and pulling a few frames apart in the process. I then put the 14x12 BB on top of a cover board (with a couple of holes in it) and put that on top of the wild hive box.

So I now have;

cover board (with holes)
Super containing wild hive
Super containing wild hive

No doubt they will glue the cover board to the wild hive BB, but at least they should now enter the 14x12 BB via the cover board and due to the bee space, use the 14x12 frames and foundation rather than just build brace comb.

...another lesson learnt !
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