Honeybee Colony In a Nest Box
I had a call last week from someone near Swindon, “I’ve got bees in my nest box”, usually this means that either Wasps or Bumble Bees have moved in which I can’t do anything about. So I went through the usual questions just to be sure and he was adamant that they were honeybees. So I asked approximately how many were coming and going from the box every minute, expecting him to say somewhere between 2 and 10, but he said “too many to count, perhaps 100, and they are all hanging on the front of the box”. It sounded like honeybees, but in a bird box would be a very small colony.
It was a nice sunny afternoon, so I packed up my kit and went over to see him, to see if there was anything I could do to help. When I got there, he took me out into the back garden and pointed at a huge bird box about 9-10 foot up a tree and sure enough they are honeybees. The box must have been for owls or hawks because it’s over a foot tall and almost a foot wide and deep, the bees were hanging all down the front and I was initially a bit stumped as to what to do.
I told him that I need to come back when they are all inside and a bit cooler, so I’m planning to go this evening, then I can just tape a gauze over the hole and take the whole box down and take it away, then I’ll have to wait for a break in the weather and prize the box open and fit the comb into some frames and place them in a hive. Hopefully I’ll be able to put the nest box back together, give it a clean and put it back up for him, so I’ll take some pictures and post them up on here as it should be quite challenging and interesting, but if the box is as full as I suspect, could prove to be a full working colony.
Then on Sunday, I was in the garden enjoying the sun and building some hive roofs which I bought from the Thorne sale when the phone went, another swarm call, a ball of bees in someones hedge which had been there for a few days, I loaded up the truck and off I went again. When I got there it was a small swarm in the hedge, so I just shook them into a nuc box which they were showing a lot of interest in before I’d even put the main cluster in, waited until the flying bees had come back, closed it up and brought them back. Once home I gave them some drawn foundation and syrup, so I’ll keep my eye on their progress.
My only concern is that the weather has turned today and being such a small swarm, I suspect it’s a cast, so may have a virgin queen in there who still needs to get out and mate, fingers crossed she will get a break in the weather before too long!