Rare bees living in the roof of National Trust Cymru’s Plas yn Rhiw on the Llŷn Peninsula have been temporarily re-homed.

Beekeepers have successfully moved five swarms of 50,000 Welsh black honeybees to nearby hives while Plas yn Rhiw gets a new roof.

Four thousand Welsh slates from Penrhyn Quarry will be used for the first major re-roofing project there in 200 years.

Thought to have died out in all but the most remote parts of northern Britain, black honey bees were rediscovered in 2012.

SwarmCatcher, who specialise in the safe removal and relocation of bees, were brought in here.

Plas yn Rhiw manor house was rescued from neglect and restored by sisters Eileen, Lorna and Honora Keating after they acquired it in 1938.

In 1952 they placed the house in the care of National Trust with the unique condition that the bees in the roof should be cared for.

Severe weather has caused the building’s roof to deteriorate and work will be carried out in sections with old slates reused where possible alongside over 4,000 new Welsh slates from Penrhyn quarry.

Mary Thomas, Property Operations Manager at Plas yn Rhiw said: “Plas yn Rhiw is a haven for wildlife and it is no surprise that when the Keatings restored the house, they made it a home for more than just themselves. Along with rabbits in the garden and badgers in the woodland, the bees living in the roof were welcome and remain so today, even when we occasionally have honey oozing from cracks in the walls in the summer!

“We were pleased to be able to relocate all five swarms we found safely to hives nearby while we undertake the work to the roof.”

In addition to maintaining access for bats, which roost in the roof, additional small gaps around the eaves and under the slates at the ends of the building will be carefully added so the bees can return to their old home.

Beekeepers will take the hives to Plas yn Rhiw’s orchard and allow them to find their way back into their former home.