Retrieving a swarm from their new home

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Nov 26, 2008
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Haddenham Buckinghamshire
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I have been asked by a neighbour to remove a nest of bees from a bird box. They have been there some weeks and built alarge amount of comb in the box.

Once I get it down from the wall and home has anyone any advice on how to remove the comb to a NUC? How do i put it in the NUC? How do I overcome the issue of moving the NUC to my apiary about 100 metres away. Surely they are going to return to the original site?

Any advice will be greatly welcomed.
Not sure how you fellas in the UK would do this but in the US it would be called a cut out.

I would simply remove the bird box and open it up, I would say take the side of it off instead of the top or bottom.

I use a bee vac that will pull the bees out of the way and make it easier to get to the combs. Cut the combs loose, then cut them to size to fit inside of a frame (I use langstoth hives) then use rubber bands to hold it in place and place in the nuc.

Since I use a bee vac then you would shake the bees into the nuc and put the top cover on it and feed.

here is a link to a cut out I did a couple of months ago, maybe the pics will help you out.,22436.msg172437.html#msg172437

Good luck with it and we need some pics.
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Tie with natural string into empty frames, and if possibel try to put some drawn frames in for them, feed them well, to get them onto making lots of new wax.

I would move the colony over 3 miles away first then, back to your site afterwards. Do you ahve a relative or a bit of land belonging to a friend a few miles away? Or a fellow beekeeper friend, my have a spot, but be careful of introducing new colonies due to bringing in disease, it is one thing infecting your bees, but other peoples could be really bad!


I would tease the combs apart and find the queen,cage her,shake the bee's into a box of new foundation,add queen,and feed,put excluder below brood box until they are drawing can also get rid of any mites while they are broodless.
Or if you wish to give them brood,then put in a proper frame from your other hive,destroy all the old comb they now have,not worth messing with.
It would be best to move them away for a couple of weeks or so,then return them to your apairy.
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Are you sure they are honey bees? Just asking as I have recently removed a bird box which had bumble bees in it. A bird box is a bit onthe small side for honey bees. I knew they were bumle bees before i went to rescue them.
Ive just collected two bird boxes from a house. they were put up for swifts, they are 12" by12" by 2ft and absolutely stuffed with bees,one is so heavy it nearly had me off the ladder, the local bka sent a man round to collect them but he never came back.
The bees seem very small and really dark and i didnt get one sting.
I was thinking about using some of the existing comb but i think the idea of leaving them broodless and treating against any nasties is a better idea.
Ill have a go tomorrow.(i wish i could put up pics)
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Hi Fellow Beeks,

Welcome to the new member from the colonies. A belated happy 4th of July.

The bird box is 18 inches by 9 by 9. The owner says it was heavy to put up but is 'keyholed' onto 2 screws, with a couple of peg supports underneath.
It has 3 icompartments that are supposed to be inter-connecting fo use by sparrows. The bees appear to be using only 1 compartment but I won't know for sure until I get it down.

Thanks for all the advice. I think the swarm probably originated from one of my hives. I am therfore fairly sure that it will not contain any nasties as only my colleague and myself have hives in a 3 mile radius.

I am going to try the elastic band method. Presumably I will have to do this late in the evening and hope I can transfer the queen and as many bees as possible.( I am still trying to work out how!!) I will then arrange with a fellow beek to put them in their apiary some miles away.

Any suggestions on how to move the bees from one box to another. I thought about coating them with a heavy syrup to make them calm and limit their ability to fly for a while. I don't have a bee vacuum.:cheers2:
I moved my two into hives this afternoon and just opened up the boxes and shook/brushed as many as i could into the hives.I didnt see a queen in either but most of the bees have now gone into their respective hives so i think it went ok.What a mess, honey everywhere while i was changing them over,i didnt use any of the brood as the boxes had a lot of rubbish in them and by the time i had cut out all the combs it was in a mess.
good luck with yours.
I got a big bucket of honey though but its a bit dirty so i will give it back to the bees.
I always start my cut outs in the morning after the foragers leave the hive, just that many more bees out of the way. If you are going to hose them down I use a spray bottle of sugar water, go easy or you will drown them.

Good luck with it.

Thanks for the welcome and I had a good 4th of July, cook out with family and shot off some fireworks. "From the colonies" that's pretty funny, makes it sound like we are still on horseback and wearing a three point hat.