wild colonies anyone?

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New Bee
Aug 21, 2009
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just out of interest does anyone know of any wild colonies in England/ UK? i am not expecting anyone to give specific locations (they are rare as hens teeth)- I am just interested whether anyone knows of wild colonies of honeybees.

A came across a colony in Worcestershire yesterday living in the base of an oak tree up on a bank - wonderful to watch. I hope they make it and prosper- might put a bait hive nearby next year though. I have a feeling they have come from a beekeeper at some stage.

look forward to the responses.
Chris Stroud
hi chris
ive seen about 5-6 'wild' colonies, they are living sheds and the like, dont know if they are still are classed as 'wild', but the owners of the houses and sheds are leaving them to it and call me when they swarm or land in my bait hives.
some folk near here put up an 'owl nesting box' a few yrs ago, It's been full of bees ever since!!
I would take a guess that most of these are empty from January to June each year although a few maybe a couple of years old.
wild colonies

Thats interesting- thanks for the replies. I'd be interesting to know if the colonies in the sheds are in the base (near tghe ground) or in a roof cavity- I know honeybees usually find a cavity (which is why they favour chimneys). I think there are a few around- how they cope with the varroa is another matter?.

I think admin is suggesting that these kind of colonies struggle to overwinter, i'll keep an eye on the colony in the tree and see what they do.

the question is... if there is a wild colony, should we help them??

If I found a colony, I would be tempted to donate an Apiguard course to give them a chance...
It's a myth that there are no wild colonies any more. I encounter them regularly - a good proportion of swarms I get called about have come from unmanaged bees, more often than not these are tree dwellers.
I currently have a hive in the garden containing a swarm out of a wild colony. I think swarminess is part of their ability to survive in the wild.
However, these wild bees still seem to be the minority even though there are a few around.
I was called this year to remove a colony from a house. This house had been empty for a number of years (10+) and when the current owners moved in there were no less than 7 colonies in various places including 2 in the kitchen cupboards. Some died out and some were destroyed over the next 5 years, swarms were numerous but I am assured that the colony I was asked to remove (it was occupying a renovation site) had been in situ continuously for at least 7 years. The comb occupied an area 50cm wide, 20cm deep and 3 METRES long, and ranged from jet black near the entrance to pristine white at the other end.
I failed to get the queen but rescued 8 frames of brood and a lot of bees, the colony is now Q+ and thriving - the bonus was 40kg of honey and 4kg of wax.
I know of a colony in the wall of an old rectory building and the owners reckon they have been there for years, its been occupied every summer for five years to my knowledge.

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