It was during the autumn last year that we noticed that the abandoned hive had bees in it, but it was decided that this wouldn’t be the right time to disturb them and move them as if we did they might not survive the winter. Instead we decided to keep an eye on them over the winter and leave them in the shelter of the abandoned garden and the bramble thicket that was helping to insulate the hive.
By early April it was obvious that the bees had survived the winter and were busy foraging on the laurel and willow bushes which were in flower close by. When the weather warmed up a few weeks later we decided that it was time to open the hive and see what was inside.
First of all the bramble was cleared, very carefully fromaround the hive. It wasn’t known if the bramble was actually holding the hive together as well as insulating it, so we had to work very carefully. Once the bramble was cleared, it became more obvious that the bees were only accessing the hive through a small hole in the side of the roof.
A small amount of smoke was puffed in through this hole and we waited a short while before lifting the roof. Having lifted the roof we could see that the bees were usingonly a part of the inside of the hive. Comb was attached directly to the underside of the roof.
The roof was turned up-side-down and another small amount of smoke was puffed onto the bees and comb before we started to try and loosen the comb. Tuddy carefully worked at each piece of comb gently loosening it from the underside of roof with his hive tool.
Three pieces of comb were found to have eggs and brood on them, so these were put into empty frames, secured with elastic bands before putting into the nuc along with otherframes containing drawn wax.
As many bees as possible were put directly into the nuc with the brood and eggs and hopefully the queen, although we didn’t spot her.Then the lid was put on and the opening of the nuc was put in a position that was as close as possible to that of where the original hole in the roof was.
Initially some of the bees were still congregating around the area of the hole in the roof, but with some encouragement and a little bit of smoke the bees made their way into their new home. Any wax which didn’t go into the nuc was left outside for the bees to clean off any honey.
The nuc was left on top of the old hive for the rest of that day and all of the next one to make sure that all the bees had become accustomed to the new set up before moving the nuc after dark to its new location.