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Hiving a wild colony

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New Bee

Joined: 27 Aug 2015
Posts: 4
Location: Northumberland, UK

PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 6:14 pm    Post subject: Hiving a wild colony Reply with quote

Unbeknown to me bees have set up home in an empty box at the end of the garden. They are perfectly happy and the box is crammed with comb. I'd like to move them into a hive - is it even possible to do this?

I only know about "usual" beekeeping and am still in national hives - I can't afford to abandon all my equipment and set up with top bars. But I am adapting to low impact management. So I would be moving the wild bees into a national brood box with frames.

Any advice at all? Thanks in advance.
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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Janecart and welcome to the forum.

Great to see yet another member in the North East.. I'm on the Durham/Northumberland border near Consett. Where in Northumberland are you?
If you aren't too far way, I might be able to help you transfer those bees to a hive although I would be loath to move them at this time of year unless absolutely necessary. Combs are fragile when the colony is young and will be heavy with nectar/honey. It can become sticky carnage, trying to cut them out and handle them and robbing is a big risk. Better to wait until Spring when there is less honey, less bees and the comb is more stable. Is there any way you can improve their chances of over wintering in the box they have set up home in? Is it a hive box or a bird box or something else?

I have both National and top bar hives and like them both for different reasons, so don't feel that having Nationals is something you need to apologise for. My oldest colony... 17 years old... is in a National, so they can't be that bad! I love the simplicity of Top Bar hives though and the ability to check on their progress with minimal interference an not having to lift 30+lb boxes in order to inspect/harvest. And the fact that I can make them from scrap/recycled timber for next to nothing.

Anyway, just wanted to say hello and offer whatever help/support I can as regards your friends in the box.


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Quality Top Bar Hives by Andrew Vidler

Conserving wild bees

Research suggests that bumble bee boxes have a very low success rate in actually attracting bees into them. We find that if you create an environment where first of all you can attract mice inside, such as a pile of stones, a drystone wall, paving slabs with intentionally made cavities underneath, this will increase the success rate.

Most bumble bee species need a dry space about the size a football, with a narrow entrance tunnel approximately 2cm in diameter and 20 cm long. Most species nest underground along the base of a linear feature such as a hedge or wall. Sites need to be sheltered and out of direct sunlight.

There is a spectacular display of wild bee hotels here

More about bumblebees and solitary bees here

Information about the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum)

Barefoot Beekeeper Podcast

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See beekeeping books for details and links to ebook versions.