Will Bees Move Into An Empty Hive?

Last Updated on April 7, 2022

Will bees move into an empty hive? Yes, they love to do this. Do bees move into abandoned hives? Yes, they also love this! Now, these answers were really short and boring, so let’s have a look at what all these “yes they do” facts mean and have a look at some fun stories to highlight how this works.

Will Bees Move Into An Empty Hive?

Yes – a swarm of bees loves nothing more than to move into an empty hive box. The dimensions of an empty hive are pretty much exactly what they are looking for. If you place a new empty hive box on a roof or similar place above the ground, if there is a swarm looking for a new home it will find this box and move in. There are ways we can increase the chances of this happening!

Do Bees Move Into Abandoned Hives?

Will bees move into an empty hive? Yes! So if a hive is abandoned it is empty! However, an abandoned hive is normally far more attractive than a new hive because it smells of bees. The bees are far more likely to find an abandoned hive than a new empty hive.

There are a few things we should keep in mind here. If a hive was abandoned because the bees in that hive were sick due to American or European Foul Brood, this can result in the next swarm getting sick too. It is important to ensure that abandoned hives were not abandoned due to no illness.

Do Bees Move Into Abandoned Hives

Learn more about: When Should I Treat My Bees For Mites?

How Do You Attract A Swarm To An Empty Hive?

Will bees move into an empty hive? Yes, we have covered this! Now how do we increase the chances of this happening? One option is to put a bait in the hive such as lemongrass which we have discussed here.

Another option is to mix a bit of propolis and beeswax and melt that in a double boiler. We always use a double boiler with wax because if you do not, you run the risk of having a huge and scary fire. Beeswax burns in a horrible way. It is just evil and explosive and burns houses down. Never ever boil beeswax in a pot where you heat the pot directly.

Once the wax/propolis mix is melted you can paint a dab of that at the entrance of the hive and a few dabs inside. The smell is an incredible bait for bee swarms.

Place this baited box on top of a roof in a sunny place in spring. If the site is close to a field of flowers that produces a strong honey flow, or some type of tree that does, this will help. If there are apiaries nearby this also helps as the apiaries will throw out a few swarms unless the beekeeper running them is very talented.

How To Move Bees To A New Hive?

There is a trick here. Remember a new hive is less attractive to swarms than a hive that has had bees in it. Here you can use this useful trick to create catch boxes to catch swarms.

When you get new hive boxes, place the empty new box next to your established hive. Transfer the frames in order from the old established hive to the new hive. Once the old hive is empty of frames, move the new hive with frames to the exact spot where the old hive was. Shake any bees in the box into the hive or in front of the hive. They will crawl into the hive. Reassemble the “new hive” and place the lid on it.

Take the old hive box away, fill it with waxed frames and place a lid on it. It is now a perfect trap box. I have used this method to catch hundreds of swarms of bees over the years with almost no effort. It is really easy to move hives to a new box, and it is really easy to catch swarms in an old box!! It is a win-win situation. Do this move in spring once the bees are very active but before they start swarming.

Will Bees Move Into An Empty Hive? (The Longer Interesting Story-rich Version Of This Answer)

They really will!! I remember one year I was preparing hives and had a shed filled with 100 or so new hives that were ready to go out in spring. We went out in early spring as the temperature rose and moved all the old hives into new boxes. We took the 100 empty boxes back to the meadery honey house.

We then packed new frames into all the boxes, strapped lids onto them, and had them ready to take out the next week to place in citrus orchards to catch spring swarms. It was a very wet year and the bees were strong all over. The home apiary at the meadery was really strong, and all the bees there were about to swarm. We had plans to manage the swarms but everything had started a bit early in the season.

After the weekend we prepared to load the empty boxes and take them out to catch swarms. The only problem was that over the weekend, the boxes stacked against the wall were already half-filled with bees. The home apiary had thrown out swarms over the weekend and these had all moved into the boxes. What an absolute mess!!

Lesson – always store empty boxes in a place where swarms cannot move into them!!

I hope this article has helped you understand how bees will move into an empty hive. These useful tips will help you repurpose your old hives into trap boxes which will help you catch locally adapted bees. Enjoy and please share the article.

Read more about: Why Are Bees Clustering At The Hive Entrance?


Will bees move into an empty hive?

Bees most certainly will. The is even more the case if the empty hive box has had bees in it before. Bees love the smell of beeswax and propolis and a previously occupied box will have this smell.

Do bees move into abandoned hives?

Yes bees love to move into abandoned hives. It is important to ensure that you know why a hive was abandoned. If it was abandoned due to a disease such as American or European Foul brood this can result in the new swarm becoming infected. Appropriate measures should be taken.

How do you attract a swarm to an empty hive?

The bes way is to use a hive that has had bees in it before. If you cannot do this, mix a bit of beeswax and propolis and melt it in a double boiler (to avoid fires). Paint this mixture on the entrance and inside of the hive. You can also use a lemongrass lure in the hive.