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Honey bees scouting out our woodburner flues - how to discourage?

(7 Posts)
dotty2 Thu 07-Jul-16 09:44:12

We moved into our current house (which had been empty for some time) last winter and had two new woodburners fitted, with lined chimneys. Earlier this week I heard bees buzzing in one of the flues and spotted a few stray bees in the stove. I called in a sweep straight away who swept that chimney but said there was no nest material. He also warned me that once you've had them, they are hard to shift.

Since then, I have tried to keep small fires burning in both stoves (as the sweep advised), but the bees keep coming back - you can here buzzing if you put your ear to the flue and see a few round the top of the flue outside.

So I've been reading up since and I understand that honey bees send out small scouting parties at this time of year - which I assume is what we've got, there are a couple of dozen of them, but not hundreds. I also read that they are apparently attracted to the smell of burnt wood - something about forest fires providing good habitat in the wild.

Obviously I'm reluctant to keep fires going indefinitely - what a waste. But also don't want to call in pest control - we need all the bees we can get. I just need to stop them setting up a colony up there. Anyone got any experience or any tips? I can't call in a beekeeper because they only remove swarms and it's not a swarm. Yet.

LizzieMacQueen Thu 07-Jul-16 09:52:02

Are they woodburners not multi-stoves then, because I would suggest you burn peat or something similar. Even if they are only woodburners maybe it would be okay to burn something other than wood if it was for a very short time.

Have you asked the people who installed your stove? Maybe they can fit a hood on the flue (though doubt whether it could keep out tiny bees).

welliesandwine Thu 07-Jul-16 10:10:31

I'm a novice beekeeper .. as I understood it the scout bees only go out when a hive is ready to swarm ...and they'll be checking out lots of locations, if a swarm happens each scout had to 'sell' their new location to the rest before the swarm will move and they don't move far from the original hive.
You may have a neighbour with bees maybe? if you could get hold of a local beekeeper they may be happy to pop a hive/nuc box in your garden with a swarm attractant in it which would divert scouts to there perhaps ?
If you're anywhere near Chester let me know
If the swarm does move in then they can seal up the hive and move it away and they'd be happy to have free bees !

dotty2 Thu 07-Jul-16 10:10:33

Thank you, Lizzie. Yes, they are multi fuel, so I was wondering if burning something else might work. No idea what though! Peat is an interesting idea - wonder if anyone knows if that works?

They have hoods, but they are coming in the open vents.

I don't mind having a few buzzing around - they're not aggressive. But I don't know what the chances of the scouts deciding our chimneys are the top spot are - it's just the thought of having a nest that I'm worried about.

dotty2 Thu 07-Jul-16 10:14:11

Cross-posted, welliesandwine - that's an interesting idea about the hive/nuc box. I'll see if I can find anyone locally. No where near Chester, unfortunately. But it does sound as if I don't need to panic too much, and a few scouts doesn't inevitably mean a swarm. The thing is, I know in theory beekeepers will collect a swarm, but we needed scaffolding to fit the chimney liners in the first place so I can't imagine anyone being happy to scramble around on the roof to get a swarm out of them without it!

welliesandwine Thu 07-Jul-16 10:28:41

Just had a search on a bee keeping forum and they recommend just continuous smoke/heat to deter them plus a box/supply of syrup/empty hive nearby... hopefully some other scouts have found a fab new location that's better than yours!
might be worth contacting your local Beekeepers Assoc, they might help?
ps. there is also lots of discussion about climbing scaffold to retrieve swarms from chimneys ... so they do do it

dotty2 Thu 07-Jul-16 10:30:59

Thank you - and have also posted on facebook to see if any of my neighbours or friends know any local beekeepers.

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