When honey bees swarm, they regularly move into houses and buildings and build a nest in an empty cavity between the inner and outer walls. These spaces provide an opening very similar to the honey bee’s natural home in a rock crevice or a hollow tree. The colony that I removed from a concrete office building was housed as if in a rock cave; the colony that I removed from a woodworking shop in a cypress garage filled a wall cavity similar to a hollow tree. When the conditions are suitable and time is not an issue, a beekeeper can use a screen funnel method to transfer feral honey bees from a structure such as hollow tree or a building to a bee hive. This procedure works exceptionally well in the spring.
The first step in moving the bees out of a structure is to close all of its entrances except one. This can be done by stapling screen or any flexible fabric over any extra entrance holes. Next, the beekeeper brings in a weak, but queen-right hive to accept the bees. I like to use a small colony from my mating nucleus bee yard. I set up a hive with a young queen that is starting to lay a good pattern of eggs. This hive is placed close to the feral bees’ hive entrance. To make the colony transfer, you fashion a funnel from screen wire and attach it to cover the feral bees’ entrance. Foraging bees leaving their hive don’t find their way back inside the funnel. Their numbers overwhelm the guard bees of the close-by weak hive, and they enter this hive instead. The transfer of bees will begin immediately, but will take from six to 12 weeks to complete. Eggs laid in the feral nest won’t emerge for three weeks, and these bees won’t fly as foragers for another three weeks. After the feral bees have been transferred, wax moths will clean out the old nest.