Will Bees Move Into An Empty Hive?

Written On: by Theo The Beekeeper

It’s very common for new beekeepers to wonder if bees will move into an empty hive. Starting a beehive without buying a swarm could save loads of money on the budget, and everyone loves freebies! However, you need to know how to do it correctly. Will bees move into an empty hive?

Empty beehives can attract a swarm of bees if it is placed correctly and at the right time. You will need to make the hive attractive to the bees, which can be a slow process. There are some times when bees will move into a hive quicker than others if you use a feeding system.

Getting a swarm of bees to become attracted enough to an empty hive could be difficult, but it’s not impossible! Sometimes, the bees will be more willing to move into an empty hive than others. Let’s take a closer look at when an empty beehive could attract bees and what you can do to make an empty hive as attractive as possible!

When Do Bees Move Into An Empty Hive?

You can have a thriving beehive without having to buy the bees themselves! You will need an empty beehive, and empty hives are pretty common because some hives may end up getting abandoned by their previous bees due to overpopulation.

In some cases, you can also buy an empty beehive that came from experience beekeepers or bee owners. Whatever your case may be, having an empty beehive can be one of the best ways to attract bees!

Some bees will end up starting and building on their colony inside an empty beehive because it is simply there for their taking. Although bees are one of the most hardworking insects on our planet, they will take the first chance they have to decrease their heavy workload.

Because of this, if there is an empty hive conveniently located and they can live in without putting in too much effort, they will enter it and make it their new home instead.

However, you will need to remember that there is a low chance that the bees will end up nesting in an empty beehive if there is already another one available and ripe for their taking.

For whatever reason, bees will not always try to settle into an empty and abandoned hive, especially if they are a wild swarm and not used to the beehive structure.

It is up to you to make the empty beehive more attractive to the wild swarm of bees so they will attempt to build a new home inside of it.

You will need to find ways to lure them into the hive so they will get attracted to it and want to live in it.

How To Successfully Attract Honey Bees To An Empty Hive

Now that you know there is a chance that wild bees may enter and start a new colony inside an empty hive, you can think of ways to make it as attractive to them as you can. When you want to attract bees to an existing but empty hive, there are several things to consider, and one wrong move could mean failure. However, it doesn’t need to be complicated!

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Let’s look at the steps you can follow to ensure you are successful in luring bees to an empty hive.

Know When It Is Swarm Season In Your Area

Bees won’t choose their new home at random times. They like to go on a house-hunting spree only during specific times, which is known as the swarming season!

The colony will send out the scout bees several weeks before the swarming season to look for home options. This is when it becomes crucial that you and your empty hive are ready to welcome to receive these scout bees, as they will deliver the message back to their hive.

When you try to lure bees at the start of the swarming season, you will have a much better chance to beat the competition and provide the perfect home for these bees.

Speaking of swarm season, you may be wondering when you can expect these bees. Bees will usually start to swarm at the start of spring. However, it is up to you as the beekeeper to determine the exact time of the swarm season, depending on your location.

Choose The Ideal Location To Position The Empty Hive

If you have other hives, you need to keep in mind that the empty hive should be positioned at least 200 to 300 meters away from them.

If you do this, the possibility of a swarm migrating to the empty hive would be much more significant.

Otherwise, the worker bees may only explore the empty hive instead of occupying it.

Therefore, it would be good to place it in the ideal location for a beehive, but not too close to the others.

Also, try to position the beehive in such a way that you will be able to move it at a later time if it is required.

Keep A Close Eye On The Entrance Of The Empty Beehive

After you have positioned your empty beehive in a suitable spot, the next thing you can do is monitor it very closely to see whether bees are taking an interest in it.

One thing you can do is watch the hive’s entrance to know whether or not bees have moved in or flying around on the inside. There will be cases where you think the bees have started to move in just because some of them are entering the hive.

However, it could also just be some worker bees exploring it.

So, you can check the opening to see whether there is some pollen. If there is pollen, you can take it as a strong indication that the worker bees constantly move in and out of the hive while carrying pollen.

This means they have already established the hive as their new foundation to carry out their operations and activities.

Bait The Bees Into The Empty Hive

Chances are, you won’t reach much success by just placing your empty hive in the ideal spot. The more realistic chance of wild bees occupying an empty hive with nothing in to lure them can be very slim.

This is when it becomes apparent that the best way for you to lure a wild swarm into a new and empty hive would be to use bait.

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Below are some of the best types of bait you can make use of to make your hive more appealing to a wild swarm.

Use A Feeding System To Lure Bees To An Empty Hive

A feeding system will work wonders if you can install it a few hundred feet away from the empty beehive. Your goal with a feeding system is to lure the bees into the feeding system.

This will increase the chances of these bees noticing the empty hive. The feeding system method will work best if other active hives are reasonably far away.

The feeding system will act as a discovery for the bees, and they will be excited enough to want to go to the feeding system and establish their new hive there.

And, if there’s already an existing empty hive, the bees might make this hive their new home in order to take full advantage of the feeding system that is easily accessible and only a few hundred feet away.

A good feeding system would include a bed of flowering plants that are rich in pollen and nectar. Once these wild bees discover the existence of this flower bed, the chances will increase of the bees going over to that area and establishing their hive there!

Use Beeswax To Attract Bees To An Empty Hive

Whether you’re a beekeeper or not, chances are, you already know what beeswax is. Beeswax is a wax that is naturally produced by bees. It can be found in many commercially produced products, including lotions, candles, and soaps, amongst many other things.

Beeswax is well known to be one of the best ways any beekeeper can attract a new swarm of bees into an empty beehive, as it will make the wild bees feel like the new hive is very similar to their old one.

Some beekeepers actually make beeswax more apparent to bees by mixing it with lemongrass. Lemongrass will work wonders as it is very similar to the smell of the queen bee, which is attractive to any kind of bee!

However, it is advised that you only use a tiny amount of lemongrass because if you use too much, it will have a countereffect and may even make the bees ignore the empty hive.

Use Lemon Balm Plant On The Empty Hive To Attract Bees

Very similar to lemongrass, the lemon balm plant also has a scent similar to the queen bee.

Because of this, worker bees will be much more encouraged to enter an empty hive that smells very similar to their queen bee.

You can use the lemon balm plant if you have one by rubbing it all over the empty hive so the bees will be able to smell it and become attracted to it.

Patiently Wait For The New Bees To Move Into The Empty Hive

The hardest part about determining whether your attempt to lure new bees into your empty hive is the waiting.

However, it might be best to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that the bees will appreciate or like your attempts. However, you can increase your chances of capturing a wild swarm of bees by making use of a swarm trap or multiple swarm traps.

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If you notice some bees buzzing around the hive, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they have taken it as their residence just yet. It may also just be some scouts checking the potential place out.

However, by carefully observing their flight patterns, you may be able to determine whether they are scouts or forager bees. Make sure that you constantly check on your traps. You never know when the bees have decided to move in.

It will be much easier to move a hive that has only recently been occupied than one where the bees have been making honey for a while.

If you see forager bees flying all around the entrance to your beehive, you can start celebrating because you have successfully attracted a swarm of bees to the empty hive!

Don’t Give Up Too Fast

Bees could take some time to accept and occupy an empty hive. In some cases, some beekeepers give up too early and move their hive too often to get the best spot to attract bees.

However, this doesn’t always work or make a significant difference to bees. So, in this case, you should just let the hive stand in one place and have some patience.

As we mentioned before, there could be a case where some worker bees will try to explore the empty hive but refrain from settling in.

Don’t give up; they won’t settle because it could take some time for the entire new colony to move into the empty beehive. As such, when you constantly move the hive to another spot, the bees won’t be able to locate it again.

Just remember the entire new colony of bees won’t move into the hive at the same time. They will take their time and move gradually.

However, if you have picked up that the hive is starting to get populated at a slow but steady rate, and you think it is necessary to move it to attract more bees, you can. It would be best if you then moved the hive only at slow distances, so they will still be able to see and locate it.

You can also consider moving the bait you have used as a feeding system as well. If you move the hive by too much distance, it may disrupt the bees’ migration.

And it might also be good to remember that the best time to move your empty hive would be at night because, during the night, the bees won’t be looking for a new place to stay as they will be in their old hive.


Whether or not a swarm of bees will move into an empty hive will depend on several factors, and it could become a lengthy process. However, following these tips and tricks mentioned above will significantly increase the chances of bees making your empty hive their new home!









Theo The Beekeeper

When I was a kid, my dad used to keep bees around the small farm we had, and I absolutely loved helping him. In the past few years, we’ve picked up the hobby again, and I’ve been doing a lot more research. This website is the accumulation of things I’ve learned along the way! You can learn more about my journey and the resources I’ve developed on my about page.

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