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How to Start a Beehive Without Buying Bees


I provide some advice on how to build a beehive with wild bees in this article so you may lower your beekeeping expenses!

There is no avoiding the truth that building a beehive from scratch may be pricey. From building their own beehives to paying less for their bee colony, many beginning beekeepers aim to minimize their start-up costs. While the cost of bees varies from source to provider, one should generally anticipate paying between $120-150 for a queen and three pounds of bees. The greatest option for beekeeping on a budget is to catch a swarm of wild bees in the spring if this price sounds like something you either cannot or do not want to pay.

I provide some advice on how to build a beehive with wild bees in this article so you may lower your beekeeping expenses!

The alarming pace of bee population decline is among the most crucial factors to keep in mind. For this reason, if you are trying to collect a swarm, ensuring the bees' safety should be your main concern. A local beekeeper's association membership can also provide you with advice on how to keep bees safe. Following these guidelines will assist to ensure that this does not happen since using improper ways to gather the bees can easily result in the death of many (if not all) of them.

what is a swarm?

Bees frequently depart the mother colony due to the queen's illness, injury, or overcrowding. These swarms of emigrating bee colonies, or clusters of emigrant bees, search for new locations to establish their own colonies. The swarms are often calm since they don't need to guard any young or honey. They also load their honey bellies with honey before they leave the hive, which frequently makes them lethargic and simpler to catch.

The bees entirely form a cluster around the queen once they have touched down. Festooning is the name of this procedure. The bees can wrap themselves around any form as they cling to each other's legs and limbs. This behavior helps you to get them into the container you have prepared since they do not like to be taken away from their cluster.

How Much Equipment Do I Need?

Ideally, your hive (or hives) will be already put up in the appropriate spot. If you don't have access to an open space like a field, it's preferable to choose a location with less traffic. You may either buy a hive kit or, if you're handy, build one yourself. The Langstroth style of the hive is preferred by the majority of beginning beekeepers over the top bar hive, however, this is a matter of personal preference.

The veil is the most significant piece of protective apparel. This will guard against stings on your face and head. The next item on the shopping list is a pair of gloves. The sort of gloves used for cleaning dishes or specialized beekeeping gloves may both be purchased. Last but not least, a beekeeping outfit will shield the rest of your body from accidental stings. Even while being stung is a common occurrence in beekeeping, it is advisable to take all precautions to prevent them.

Additionally, you will want a container of some sort to house your swarm. Use an empty hive box or a designated collecting box in this situation. If the cardboard box features either mesh vents or air holes, you can buy the collecting box or use any ordinary cardboard box.

A bee vacuum, fragrance lures like lemongrass oil, and sugar water in a spray bottle is optional supplies that you could require.

I invite you to check Discover Beekeeping Book by Nick Winters a Beekeeper, Bee Hive Builder.

Beekeeping in-depth technique 

It is hard to imagine that one of the most straightforward methods a beekeeper may establish a new colony is entirely free in a world where everything costs money. Every spring, during the swarming season, whole colonies of bees practically drop from the sky! Why not take ownership of them and begin a new beehive without purchasing bees in the process?

It's not as tough as you may assume to catch a swarm. This method of beehive establishment has been used for millennia by beekeepers. We capture our fair share of swarms at Wildflower Meadows and get new hives for free as well. (We do, of course, lose a few swarms a year, but that is another tale.)

A beekeeper must think like a swarm in order to capture a swarm. Finding and settling into a nice new home is the primary goal of a swarm of bees. A swarm that has escaped its confines can be discovered in one of two states: settled (often sitting on a branch) or flying (moving from one place to another) and searching for a home. Any swarm, regardless of kind, may be caught by a resourceful beekeeper.

When a swarm is settled, the beekeeper must go outside, dress appropriately, and collect the bees from their resting place. The beekeeper often arrives at the swarm location with an empty hive body or collection box. Most of the time, shaking or brushing the bees into the collection box is not all that difficult. A beekeeper would frequently just cut the branch and remove the bees and the branch together if the swarm is concentrated on it. (Occasionally, the swarm is out of reach and cannot be safely collected, though.) How can a beekeeper find swarms of this nature? Spreading the word that you are willing to gather swarms is the greatest method to discover them. Some municipalities and counties have a registry of beekeepers who can pick up swarms. A beekeeper searching for swarms can also get in touch with the management of surrounding apartment buildings or housing complexes, many of which encounter unwelcome swarms of bees, particularly in the spring.

Unbelievable as it may seem, flying swarms can also be attracted, although this needs a more passive strategy. In this instance, the objective is to use chemical lures that are created to replicate the pheromone that honeybees emit while they are calling their fellow bees to a site in order to draw a flying swarm to the beekeeper's equipment. A beekeeper will either employ bait hives or swarm traps to capture flying swarms. Standard beekeeping hives that have been left empty and perfumed with swarm lures are called bait hives. Swarm traps are special containers made to entice and capture flying swarms (both swarm lures and swarm traps are sold by beekeeping supply companies).

The wonderful thing about swarms is that controlling them is simple. A swarm typically behaves quite softly since it has no little brood or honey to guard as long as it is not firmly established in its new area. Even an aggressive African honeybee colony's swarm will behave politely once it has been split off from the main colony.

It is imperative that you quickly replace the queen that was brought with the swarm once you have collected your swarm. Why? Because the queen's origin is unclear, she arrived with the swarm. It could have poor genetics, which might make the colony undesirable in a variety of ways, such as by making it temperamental or prone to illness. You only know that a swarm is possible because of the genetic line. It has, after all, already! You will be getting high-quality, wholesome, and well-known genetic stock with a new queen, particularly one from Wildflower Meadows, which is ideal for your new colony.

You may like: Self-Sufficient Backyard Book 

Locations of Wild Bees

Nearly everywhere, even in populated areas, you may discover wild bees! Many communities may maintain a list of beekeepers who are available to remove swarms in the spring for the purpose of collecting swarms close to residential areas. This list is sometimes referred to as a local swarm list. Typically, these swarms are looking for a good location to set up shop in or close to public spaces, structures, and private residences. The buzz of a colony as it moves toward warm regions like eavestroughs is almost universally recognized. You must publicize yourself as a resource to transfer undesirable swarms because most homeowners would want the bees to live someplace else.

Experts calculate that the wild bee population has been destroyed in recent years by almost 90%. The absence of the bees' primary food sources, such as natural plants, is mostly to blame for this. Today, there is a global movement underway to save the bees. By capturing swarms, you may assist the homeowner by resolving their issue and gathering the bees required to populate your beehive with wild bees.

In most places, you can locate wild bees if you know where to look. This makes it simple to start beekeeping naturally. You may get a decent idea of what is flying around in your region by taking a walk in outdoors. One of the bees' preferred places to nest is protected regions like hollow trees. Spend some time monitoring what is flying into and out of your target region because just following a buzzing sound may not bring you to honeybees but rather to nests of hornets or wasps (and read this article if you find bees in the ground and want to know what they are!)

Catching a Swarm

Let's get right to the point and explain how to build a beehive with wild bees, which is what you actually want to know. There are a few various approaches you might use to do this. Which one you choose will depend on where exactly you locate your bees.

Swarming is not a persistent state. Because the queen is a famously terrible flyer, the swarm always lands when the bees need to rest. A motionless swarm could just be resting if you notice one. However, they may have stopped if anything about the location caught their attention. The swarm in this instance will remain there while scout bees go out to conduct an investigation. Be aware that swarms may vanish within an hour. Your tools must be prepared to use at a moment's notice!


Lowering the bees into your container is the easiest, fastest, and most secure approach. The bees must be on a low branch that you can clip off and drop into directly for this to function. The majority of the bees will enter the container on their first attempt when you drop the swarm in this way. Some of them will flee, but they should soon reassemble with the rest. Additionally, clipping and lowering nearly guarantee that the queen stays with the swarm.


Sometimes, you may come upon a swarm that is either too high off the ground or perched on a limb that is too thick to be readily cut. Shaking the swarm is usually done when this occurs. If you want to shake a swarm, put a light-colored sheet underneath the container and set the container right below the swarm. The sheet serves as a visual cue for any bees around the container so you can avoid stepping on them.

This approach is rapid, and if you have good aim, you should only need to shake the swarm once to move it. It might take a while for the bees to gather in the container since there will be a lot of bees that fall and fly. The other creatures will ultimately join the queen if she is in the container. Any straggler bees can be captured safely using your bee vacuum.


On immovable things that cannot be cut or disturbed, swarms can occasionally be observed. Scooping is surprisingly successful in this situation. This is exactly what it sounds like, and it is done by hand. The bees should be carefully scooped into your palms and placed in the container. Once you have scooped a few times since bees don't want to be separated, the remaining bees will frequently follow on their own. Watch how the bees behave to make sure you have the queen in your possession. You want to watch them giggling and dancing around, pouring into the container and spreading out. Look about that region if they are performing this action close but not exactly in the container. The queen is probably there somewhere, somewhere!


Baiting is the most passive method of collecting a swarm and speaks more about beekeeping than anything else.

You can actively seek a swarm to bait, or you can bait your empty hives. The Nasonov pheromone, which is given off by the first worker bees to enter a new hive, is precisely matched by the aroma of lemongrass oil. The remainder of the swarm is guided to their new residence by this pheromone. The bees can be attracted by putting lemongrass oil-dipped cotton swabs or balls at the back of the container or hive. Be sure to give the bees a day or two to rest if you are baiting a hive. You must check to see if they adapt to their new residence. They could go, in which case they should leave everything intact for the incoming swarm.

If you are baiting into a container, wait until after sundown to remove the container. Making sure you collect as many bees as you can and waiting until after dusk to give scout bees a chance to rejoin the swarm are both essential components of good beekeeping. Bring your bees home at this time, and the next morning you may release them into the prepared hive.

You may also mist your container with sugar water for any of the aforementioned techniques. The bees are drawn in by this. Additionally, you may use the solution to gently mist angry bees to help quiet them down.

Will an empty beehive attract bees?

Try to entice bees to nest in an empty hive as another option to have a beehive without actually purchasing the bees or searching for wild bee swarms. Because some hives may wind up being abandoned by their prior occupants as a result of overcrowding, empty hives are rather typical. Sometimes you may purchase empty hives that were previously owned by knowledgeable beekeepers. Having an empty have may be a terrific technique to draw bees, whatever the situation.

Therefore, the fact that it is essentially already there and available for the taking is the reason why bees would ultimately establish their colony within an empty hive. Bees are animals who put forth a lot of effort but will seize the first opportunity to lighten their load. As a result, bees may come and make that hive their new home if there is an empty one that they can occupy without having to expend a lot of energy building another one. Taking the route of least resistance, etc.

Swarming is another factor that contributes to the attraction of neighboring colonies to vacant beehives. When bees have outgrown their previous colony, swarms will develop. After that, the old queen and around two-thirds of the total hive population will be pushed to depart the old hive, leaving one-third of the old population to choose a new queen and establish their new colony.

In order to choose a new area to call home, the queen and the majority of the colony will then form a swarm. The bees may even re-establish their colony within an adjacent vacant hive if they can get in there without too much difficulty.

What you need to understand is that even if a beehive is already free and ready for the taking, there is a slim possibility that bees will decide to nest there. Even if this is a wild swarm and not some bees who fled from one of your adjacent beehives, bees won't always want to settle into that empty, abandoned hive for whatever reason.

Therefore, it is your responsibility to increase the beehive's appeal to the swarm so that they will really attempt to construct a new home within that vacant hive. In order for them to get drawn to the hive and want to dwell there, you must, in essence, entice them inside. Imagine yourself as a real estate agent in a hive.

How do you attract bees to an empty hive?

The next step is to make the hive more appealing to bees now that you are aware that they can enter an empty hive and start a new colony there. After all, even if an empty hive is available, there is no guarantee that the bees will instantly try to occupy it. To prevent the bees from swarming and abandoning their old hive, you must make sure the hive is enticing enough for them to want to dwell there and build their new home there.

Therefore, the following are some of the greatest methods for drawing bees to an empty hive:

Make care to place the hive in a suitable location.

First of all, if you are an experienced beekeeper with an empty hive that you want your other bees to be drawn to and start a new colony in, you must situate your hive in such a way that it is alluring to the bees.

The most important thing to remember is to place the hive far enough from your other hives. Because bees are more likely to relocate to a new hive that is farther away from their previous colony, perhaps a distance of approximately 500 feet will suffice. The worker bees will likely merely investigate the new hive and won't try to inhabit it if it is too close to their present home, which is why the hive needs to be kept at a safe distance.

So that there is a greater probability of migration, be sure to place it somewhere that is relatively remote from your other beehives. If you can increase it by up to perhaps a thousand feet, you ought to. For those who may not have a large enough property, this might provide difficulty. If so, you should try to accomplish this only after you have built up a sizable apiary and are an experienced beekeeper.

Regularly check the entrance to the hive.

The next step is to carefully observe your beehive once you've placed it in a favorable location so you can determine whether or not bees are truly considering using it as a migratory route and constructing a new nest there.

Looking at the beehive's aperture or entrance is one way you may do to determine whether or not the bees have migrated in. In other cases, even the presence of a few bees entering the hive can lead you to believe that the bees have begun to migrate in. These may, however, just be worker bees taking a look around the hive.

Therefore, you should inspect the aperture to see whether there is any pollen there. The pollen is the greatest way to tell if the bees have already entered that hive or not. There is a possibility that worker bees are often traveling in and out of pollen-filled areas while carrying pollen. This indicates that the hive has become its new operational hub.

Check Discover Beekeeping Book by Nick Winters a Beekeeper, Bee Hive Builder.

Last Words on Starting a Beehive without buying Bees

Nothing compares to the thrill of successfully catching a swarm for the first time! Once you give it a try, you'll realize that it's a simple task to do. Just keep in mind to put on your full protection gear when you fill your first hive. Using a wild swarm can get your beekeeping on a tight budget off to a wonderful start. Additionally, the more hives you handle with ease the more you acquire in experience!

Disclaimer: I appreciate you reading this blog and I hope you found it useful. Just so you know, some of the links on this website are "affiliate links." This means that if you click on the link and buy the product, you will get a commission. Nevertheless, I only offer recommendations for goods or services that I have personally used and that I think would be useful to my readers.


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