Only OT as it is definitely not a DiY job!!
I've had honey bees living inside a flat roof above a bedroom window for
the last year. The time came that they had to go, there was a slight
water leak in the roof and it didn't seem like a good idea to take the
roof off with them still inside.
I had a chat with the local bee keepers association, Bedford, and they
put a note out on their newsgroup with my details to see if anyone
fancied a challenge, a guy called Andre offered his services and
yesterday he came around to remove them.
It was an amazing operation, with surprisingly little damage to the
ceiling, about an 18" square piece removed. What was truly amazing was
the number of bees in there and the amount of honey comb that they had
produced. Any way all now happily, well probably slightly miffed, in a
temporary hive on top of the roof for today and away to a new home
If anyone in Beds or Herts has a bee issue I can thoroughly recommend
The honey retrieved from them tastes a darn sight better than anything
I've bought in any shop, so a plus point there too.
When I kept bees, used to be fairly regular request to collect swarms
(natural spilt of hives annually)
Usually cut the comb (if they have established one) let it drop into a
cardboard box .... and then leave it and over a few minutes all the bees
will migrate to the box .... a few puffs of smoke to calm them down,
close lid of box and then you can safely transfer them by car or
whatever to a waiting empty hive.
If a swarm has recently left a hive, typically they will settle on a
tree - you can just hold empty box near them, and shake branch of tree
the swarm will fall into box, once queen is in all will follow and stay
Their instinct is to find a 'hole' .... so easy enough to persuade them
into a box.
Glad you took right decision ... a lot of people want to kill honey
bees, they will not harm you unless threatened, they sting, they die.
Same for big bumble bees ... now getting rare.
Wasps sting for fun.
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I've heard that for the last year or two, so far this year I've seen
quite a few BIG bumble bees, mainly having to let them out through the
transparent force field, or maybe it's the same one over and over again,
are they solitary?
Not solitary, but very few to a nest ... whereas a honey bee colony
could be 60,000 bees ... bumble bees live in small nests.
I encorage them in my garden by panting Bumble bee septic plants
....(borage etc.) many of the newer garden centre plants have nectar in
places a bumble bee can't reach ...
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These guys had been well behaved tenants so it only seemed fair to find
them a new home! :-) Plus my father was a beekeeper, so maybe some of
the liking for them had rubbed off on me?
We have quite a few large bumbles around, at least one took up residence
under the lounge floor somewhere, I noticed it coming and going through
a broken air brick. But not seen any of the smaller ones for a few
Wasps I will kill on sight, having had a few stings from them, 12 in one
attack a few years ago, I am slightly biased against them!
The big bumbles around at the moment are queens. Later on in early
summer you'll see the workers and males, which are smaller.
If you do box-up a swarm of honeybees, leave it open until evening -
there will be lots of scout bees off searching for a new home but they
will return by dark. If you box and remove the main swarm before evening
you'll have lots of confused bees around the next day.
Though the Missus and I were in the garden last week and remarked that
there seemed to be more around than this time last year including a
reasonable number of the red tailed variety. Hopefully they are
recovering a bit. We get a fair number of Honeybees as well but they
come from a keeper about 300 yards away as the Bee flies and we look
foward each year when he put some jars out in his porch with an
honesty box. In fact some trees that fell in the Winter gales have
revealed one of his hives is only about 100 yards away on the edge of
his property with only a narrow field and chalk stream between us and
the Hive. We do try and plant some things like heathers so there are
some early things about for Bees to forage on.
Different bees if they are drilling holes
Mine are mason bees - they use mud to make compartments in reeds or
holes drilled by OTHER insects. Even though they can sting they are
very docile. They are solitary bees - no queen, no swarms, no honey etc.
In a tube they make a compartment from mud, lay an egg, pack the
compartment with pollen then seal it with more mud. Each of my tubes has
5 or 6 such compartments. The bees develop June to March using the
pollen as food and then emerge this time of year. The end compartment is
usually the male which emerges first and then hangs around for some
reason until the females emerge.
These bees are harmless and probably responsible for pollinating more
plants than honey bees/bumble bees etc. They emerge just as my cherry
tree flowers and I usually get a good crop.
What diameter and depth of hole do you use (well, offer to the bees)?
And woudl the bees reuse a hole -- lots of the commercail ones have some sort of
inset or straw, and it that meant ot bechanged annually?
6 to 8mm diameter - 120mm long
There are two types of mason bees that will use (and reuse) them
Red Mason in the spring using mud as a construction material and Blue
Mason early Summer using chewed up leaves. The Red Mason prefer the
When all the bees emerge there is an empty tube that is reused.
The tubes need to be sited to get the full sun for the longest part of
the day - NO dappled shade
Originally the card tubes I purchased were relatively cheap but now are
quite expensive. I have some success with black jumbo drinking straws
but the bees really do prefer something less slippery.
I believe when kept commercially the bees are removed from the tubes,
hence paper liners in the card tubes. I don't remove the bees from the
tubes year to year.
(Amazon.com product link shortened) />
Book contains references to the now defunct Oxford Bee Company - so
references to suppliers of tubes/ boxes etc. are now not valid.
I have a few, and have used off cuts of old garden canes 50mm to
80mm long, but run a drill through them to remove internal
barriers. This gives a whole range of hole sizes, and
interstices, so they can, and do, take their pick.
They certainly do reuse. I don't think the ones with straw are
really aimed at bees.
Chris J Dixon Nottingham UK
On Sunday, April 20, 2014 1:59:34 PM UTC+1, Bill wrote:
Thanks, as a beekeeper, for posting that Bill. It's an interesting story - I'm on the local fuzzes list as a collector of swarms and spend most of my time calming down psychotic women who don't know one end of a honey bee from a wasp or bumble bee.
I had a chat with a beekeeper, that I found on the local list of swarm
collectors, when they first moved in and he wasn't very hopeful about
getting them out, so when it became a necessity I contacted the local
association and spread the need a bit more widely. I was very pleased
with the result, in fact the guy came back this evening to collect the
temporary hive, it was pouring with rain last night and for some reason
he didn't fancy walking up the roof and fetching it down! Tonight it all
went quite smoothly and all I have to do now is firstly keep an eye out
in the bedroom, the little bu**ers are still appearing, 3 in the last
hour, rather a lot fell into the room when he cut the ceiling down.
Secondly I have a bit of plasterboarding to do. For some unknown
reason, apart maybe from the fact my father was a beekeeper, it doesn't
really bother me, just one of those things that happens and it's good to
know that they have gone to a new home and can carry on about their
I find it surprising that people can't tell the difference between honey
bees and wasps, what do they teach in schools these days? I can well
imagine some of the calls that you get though :-)
This lot seemed remarkably docile, well for most of the time any way!
The stragglers in the bedroom didn't seem too bothered, after spending
ages getting them to walk on pieces of paper so that I could usher them
out of the window I got fed up with that and just let them walk onto my
hand and then put them out, they didn't seemed worried about it!
Probably not the most sensible move and I wouldn't recommend it, but it
worked in this instance. There again when he cut the ceiling down it
was a different matter, I was well out of the way :-) He had the
correct PPE, I didn't.
As a final note for the evening, while we were waiting for them to
settle down before removing the hive we noticed a series of wasps going
into another part of the roof, they are not going to be treated quite so
politely. Very respectfully though, after having 12 wasp stings in one
instance where I accidentally damaged a nest I keep well clear of them.
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