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Mustang

Just got a week old swarm complete with comb and brood.

My sister called and said she had a mass of bees in her garden. So I said I'll come and sort them. Got there, and found they've been there for more than a week and had been busily building comb and filling it with pollen, eggs and brood. They had settled in a fork in a tree and looked settled.

So, I put my nuc under colony, and dug it all out carefully. Dropped all of the comb and lots of bees carefully into the nuc. Managed to persuade lots of bees into the nuc, but as fast as I was putting them in, loads were coming out Wink

I spotted a small number of bees on a nearly branch, and in the middle was the queen! So I grabbed her gently and popped her into the nuc as well. Left the nuc for a couple of hours, and all the bees kindly marched in to be with queenie. Locked the nuc up tight, and brought it home.

So I've got a locked down deep nuc full of bees and bust-up natural comb. How do I transfer the bees onto frames from their natural comb?

I'm a beginner at this ... only getting my first colony of bees a couple of weeks ago and now I've got 3! So any advice appreciated.
Cathryn

You can theoretically shake the bees into the box with some frames in and then take their comb and attach it it to the top bar of a frame (use wool), just the bar in order to save some of the brood?

However I imagine that the natural comb is slightly curved and might not fit easily. You also might end up with cross combing, which is apparently a pain and luckiliy something that I have not yet had to to deal with.

If it's a good strong swarm already it might be best just to shake them into the hive with frames, give them some food for a week or two and let them get on with it.

This is all theory from me but I have done a lot of research as I have to do a move the other way!
Dogwalker

If you've got the equipment I think I'd try to put the queen in a brood box with frames of foundation/ comb put the queen excluder on then a super with the natural comb in.
Hopefully they'd draw out the foundation for the queen to start laying and keep looking after the brood in the natural comb until it hatches.

might work.
Mustang

Thanks for the advice.

What I decided to do is to keep them in the nuc (I havent got any other thing to put them in). The nuc has a disc entrance which allows me to select the type of entrance (closed, ventilation, open, queen excluder) and I also added vents at the back covered with mesh. So should be ok for them. It doesn't have a varroa floor though.

Anyway, this morning, I opened it the entrance to 'queen exclude' so the queen cant get out. I had put in some super frames which I had handy last night, and they are already starting to draw these out, so I think they are amenable to frames. I replaced these with the last 3 14x12 brood frames that I had. I picked out the all bar 2 lumps of wild comb and moved them aside. The other 2 were too big, so I pushed them gently against 1 side of the nuc, allowing me to put in the frames. I added a cover board, and a super on top. I've put in 2Ltr of syrup in a feeder, and left the remainder of all the comb alongside the feeder in the super. Hopefully, they'll figure out the frames are nice and hangy, ideal for them to go use, and clean out the wild comb above.

I couldn't see any sign of disease with them or their comb, so here's hoping they are fine. I'll leave them to it for a week now, to get settled down, and then I'll have my first attempt at marking a queen.

In the 2-3 weeks that I've had bees, I've had my own ones swarm and split, a queenless colony (now building queen cells), and now a 3rd 'wild' swarm that came from my sister's roof.

Btw, the bees at my sister's house are coming in by the guttering. They should be ok there, as long as they dont get into the cavity wall, shouldn't they?
Mistress Rose

You seem to have reached a reasonable compromise Mustang. You will want to put them in a proper hive fairly soon otherwise they will run out of room and that is when they swarm. Swarms are less likely to be diseased than existing colonies, so just keep an eye on them, and you should be all right. If bees have got into a house, they tend to go for enclosed spaces. They may set up home in the roof, but often find chimneys and cavity walls nice homes. In the wild they go for hollow trees, so these are similar. I would try to find out where they have set up home in your sisters house.

If you belong to a beekeeping association, they will often be able to find a more experienced member to help you in the early stages. Otherwise, see if any local beekeepers would be willing to give you some guidance.
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