Last summer some neighbors across a field from us had most of the trees clearcut on their property. Unfortunately, one of the trees they cut down was apparently a bee tree. Next thing we know we have wild honey bees flying around our house chimney.
My wife called a few bee keepers in the area and one guy told her that it was too late in the summer to transfer a hive and that most likely the bees would die off in the winter as they wouldn't have had time to make enough honey to survive.
During the winter I climbed up on the roof and looked down the chimney and couldn't see any signs of the bees so assumed they had died off.
A couple days ago we started noticing that honey bees were around our house and noticed that again we had bees flying in and out of our chimney.
Note: We have a brick and cinder block chimney that has two flues. One flue is for our woodstove and it gets used during the winter months. The other flue is a left over from when our house had an oil furnace, but that was replaced with a heat pump so that flue is no longer used except by the bees.
For years we've had chimney swifts in the used flue each year, which means we don't have wood fires from spring until fall after the swift migration is over. We've had over 100 birds a night using the chimney during migration times. However, with the bees last year it pretty well discouraged the swifts and very few used our chimney last fall.
Last night after dark I climbed back up to look down the chimney and see what the bees were doing. This time I was able to see what was going on as a few of the bees were still crawling around in the chimney and I could see why I missed seeing it during the winter.
About a foot down the flue where there is a mortar seam, there appears to be an opening in the mortar and the bees are using it as an entrance into the chimney framework which I assume is hollow between the two flues. I could see several bees crawling around this opening.
What should I do?
Last resort is to spray Raid or something in the opening at night and fill up the hole with fresh mortar which should entrap the bees. However, I would rather save the hive if it could be moved.
Is there anyone in the Washington county Oregon interested in saving the hive?
Obviously, tearing apart the chimeny is not an option. I would rather find some way of encouraging them to relocate.
We do have the old furnace vent opening into that flue from our garage, so it would be possible to put smoke in at the bottom, but don't know how effective that would be in getting the bees out of the chimney.
We have a fair size fruit orchard so having the bees around is nice and if someone could move them to a hive box, I would prefer it if the hive could be left at our place through spring.
Is it possible to set up a hive box near the chimney and maybe attract them to using that or is the chimney too good of a home for them to make them want to move?
If someone didn't want the hive, but could offer help that would also be great. My father got a hive box and stuff several years ago for at his place, but never got any bees so I do have access to some of the things I would need if I decided to become a beekeeper.