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wellington womble

Self build bees

I have a number of bees that moved into a vacant hive in my orchard. I have no kit, no knowledge and no clue what to do with them. I wouldn't have noticed had mum not been planning to take the hive back to France with her (yes, it was a shock!)

I like bees, so I'd like to keep them especially given the threats to bees just now. I don't want any products from them just to give them the best chance given the resources I have.

Should I do anything or just leave them alone? I have plenty of sugar, and honey. Do they need water? (See, I know nothing!)

There is no reason why you shouldn't just let them get on with it if you don't want a harvest.
Ten years ago I would have said their chance of survival was near to zero because of varroa.
But there are more & more feral colonies surviving without intervention now I'm leaning the other way entirely.
I haven't medicated any colonies for years & my losses are no higher or lower than my neighbours who do medicate.

If you do want to learn more about them but don't want to interfere this book will help you understand what's going on inside their home from observing outside.

Mistress Rose

There is no reason why you shouldn't get some crop off them. If there are no frames in the hive they will have built wild comb which will be too fragile to move, but if the hive is staying put, that isn't a problem. You might find some advice from your local beekeeping group useful, and most now have people who are willing to consider 'alternative' beekeeping. Even if you learn the basics, it will give you some idea of what you are seeing.
wellington womble

I really don't want any honey. I have a dozen jars from the harvest years ago. I do use wax, but again I have plenty just now.

I'd rather the bees had it - I'm happy enough to have them buzzing about. I just wondered what I could do to help them. I'll find out about bee keepers, but as a single parent it is very often difficult to get to that sort of thing.

If you leave them alone & they have reasonable resistance they will prosper & send more swarms into the wild to add to the increasing feral gene pool that was almost completely destroyed in the 1980's & 90's by varroa.
If they don't have reasonable resistance then they will dwindle.
It's not difficult to treat them with a thymol gel like apiguard in the spring if they aren't doing well then.
Many conventional (BBKA) beekeepers will say you need to inspect for disease & pests but as I highlighted earlier so much can be determined from outside observation, including notifiable diseases like foul brood.
Alternatively you could ask a local beekeeper to manage the hive for you & share the produce.
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