Help! My bees absconded!
I got a package on Tuesday, installed them (not very smoothly, but got all the bees, food, and queen in.) The next morning, I released the queen from her cage because I wasn't sure they were getting her out. I checked on them briefly that night, and all seemed ok - although they all seemed clustered at the back of the hive around the feeder can.
Yesterday (Thursday) I came home and they all seemed to be flying in and out of the entrance, and I figured all was well. In the evening, my husband said he didn't see any bees and was worried, so I suited up and went to check on them. They were gone!!! I looked around, and saw them clustered in a swarm on the ground nearby.
I brushed as many as I could into a bucket and put them back into the hive. I moved the feeder can closer to the front of the hive, and I added a small container of honey with fabric over it so they could get some honey too (a TBH beekeeper I know recommended that.) Then I reduced the entrance with a screen allowing only 1-2 bees to pass through at a time. I tried to find the queen, and I think I did - I saw one bee who was much larger than the others, and who had a different color abdomen. I hope that was her.
This morning, I peeked at them, and they were still in there. There are still a few on the ground in clumps - should I try to get them in this evening?
Where did I go wrong? Any thoughts on why they absconded, and what I should do next? I don't want to keep bugging them, but I also want to make sure they have food and water, and dont leave again. It was so demoralizing to see they had left! How did I fail them?
"Clustered on the ground nearby"? How odd...sounds like the queen tried to abscond or something.
Question, did you hppen to move the hive after installing them?
I did that once and the returning bees just clumped where they HAD been!
Sounds like you are doing the only things you can to me...reduce the entrance, etc.
Is your feed outside the hive? I would put in inside...if in a can, make sure it is full and put on little blocks, or, use a conventional front feeder in the front.
That would help keep them in, and not want to leave a good food source...after they make a little comb, they will want to leave even less...
That probably was the queen, did she look different than she did when you released her?
I would definitely try to restore the smaller clumps, them may be returning foragers if you moved the hive.
Then again, sometimes they just will not cooperate. Years ago I had a swarm leave a nice standard hive, food, foundation all that. THe rested on a tree limb. I pulled my truck up so that they were just over the hood of my truck, set the hive up just against the swarm...they immediately began to re-enter...so I thought.
Did you know that bees could actually enter your vehicle air vents and get into your heater fan?
They can. Lost that one. The bees, not the truck.
Thanks for your help RBar!
In the air vents??!! Ewww. That sounds crazy.
Nope, I didn't move my hive at all. I did have a hard time getting them in from the package because it was my first time, and I wasn't sure how to do it, but otherwise it was ok. Their food can is on blocks too. I'm not sure if the queen is the same - I'm gonna try to look again tonite I guess. I am worried about disturbing them too much though.
How do you recommend giving them water inside the hive?
I've had them cluster on the outside of a box when they didn't like the smell of it. But I've never seen them in a lot of clumps here and there in the grass. Lemongrass oil (or a little lemon pledge) somewhere in the hive will contribute to acceptance.
Hi again - Well, to my surprise, I got home tonight, and they were gone again. This time clustered on the legs of my TBH. I did notice some ants in the hive, so maybe that's the cause of all this fuss.
I put them back in, and sprinkled in some crushed lemongrass (I dont have oil or pledge yet). I reduced the entrance, and think I'm gonna seal it completely with some mesh in the morning. I've got the legs of the hive in water, and I sprinkled some cinnamon around them to help with ant control.
I feel a little ridiculous at this point - should I keep putting them back like this, or am I torturing them? Should I try to exclude the queen in the TBH with #5 mesh (Dee suggested this on yahoo groups)? They seem to be absconding during the day while I'm at work.
To make things worse, now my neighbor is complaining about the "swarming bees" She wants me to move the hive to another part of my yard (about 30 feet away) because of the swarming. If I do that tomorrow after closing up the hive, will I just mess things up more, or will it be okay since they haven't really settled in anyway.
So far, my first experience in beekeeping is pretty traumatic. I'm hoping for better luck soon! Any advice (or luck charms) much appreciated!
They are more likely to stick with the hive if there are some bee products already in it.
They are attracted by the smell of propolis and they don't tend to leave brood once there is some in the hive.
If you need something (like propolis, or possibly brood comb if it's not raining tomorrow and I can get into my own hive again), send me a private message with your phone number. I will be working my hive around noon if it's not raining. I'm at MLK and 32nd but can drive it over to wherever if your hive is in Oakland also.
[size="1"][ April 22, 2006, 12:52 AM: Message edited by: girl Mark ][/size]
girlMark- You are one reason that beekeeping is so attractive to us all. A fine gesture to one in need and and if the situation can be stabilized, that frame of brood should do it. beebee, once your bees are stable, they should begin doing what bees do, work.They need peact and quiet and also some 1:1 sugar syrup would have a stabilizing effect. Good luck and keep us posted.
Forgot to address the ant problem. Find two old round motor oil cans, the treated cardboard type, cut them in half, put one uner each leg of your stand and fill them half full of used motor oil. That should solve the ant problem.
turns out she's right down the street from me!
well, we went through my hive and ironically I had no brood (they'd just swarmed, I saw the queen but absolutely no eggs yet). I gave Jennifer some empty brood comb that had some pollen and nectar in it, well see if that helps.
[size="1"][ April 22, 2006, 05:15 PM: Message edited by: girl Mark ][/size]
I would have responded sooner, but my computer was down all weekend.
Mark - thanks so much again for the comb. I put it in on Saturday after I saw you, and they are still in the hive! The longest span of time yet.
After seeing your bees and queen, I'm pretty unsure about whether I saw my queen or not. So I'm unclear about whether or not I have one, but hopefully they'll remain happy and in the hive now. Sometime soon, I'll have to try to locate her. I peeked in the hive last night, and a lot of the bees were clustered at the back of the hive, and then a bunch were hanging out on the comb.
I'm going to try to leave them alone for a day or so before checking them again, and hopefully, they'll start building some comb of their own.
Let me know if you still need help moving your hive. I'm around this evening.
aah, very good. So maybe your queen was out on the grass and you never succeeded in scooping her up. Or something.
On the other hand, if they were scattered because they were queenless (there's no solid evidence for this, she can be hard to find especially when you dont' have combs in the hive yet, so don't panic), then we should get you some brood comb. OF course it's raining so we cant' get into another hive at this point.
Did you have to trim my comb to fit your hive?
SOmetimes you can't really tell what's happening when they get their minds (???) made up to do something.
[size="1"][ April 24, 2006, 12:30 PM: Message edited by: girl Mark ][/size]
Well, I sort of balanced your top bar into my hive, and then screwed one of my top bars on top to hold it there. (I can replace your bar for you at some point too.)
If they start building comb soon and acting "normal", I'll switch your top bar out for one of mine.
Yeah, hopefully the queen is in there. I guess I'll just keep my fingers crossed, hope they stay put now, and hope to see brood comb soon.
I'll keep you posted on their progress.
I have an update on my bees and some questions...
They have now stayed with the hive since Saturday - very exciting. However, I checked on them last night, and they are all still clustered at the back of the hive. Some of them seem to be doing stuff on the comb Mark gave me, but I'm not sure what. I didn't see any comb being built.
Do you think I should get a new queen or try to get some brood comb? I'm not sure if I have one, don't feel super confident about being able to spot her, and can't read their behavior to tell if they're queenless or not. I'm not sure how long to wait before taking action. What if I introduce a new queen and there already is one?
Thanks in advance for any feedback - Though I'm loving the experience, I still feel a little bit "lost at sea" with these new creatures.
Brood (eggs and young larvae) is always prefered because that way you will know something. If you put a new queen in and they kill her what will you know? That they rejected her, yes, but why? Because they have a queen? Becuse they are picky?
If you add brood you'll know if they are queenless or not because if they ARE queenless they will rear a queen. If they are NOT queenless they will not.
Since we seem to be getting nice weather again I can work on borrowing a comb from my friend Cleo and Oscar's hive, which will be different dimensions than what I gave you- 16" top bars I think (so attachment area is smaller than that). Are you saying that my top bar was actually shorter than yours so you screwed it to your bars to make it work? I thought the one I had was pretty long...
Give me a call or drop me an email, and we can figure out scheduling...
I'm busy tomorrow but probably available Friday and Sat. Busy Sunday.
[size="1"][ April 26, 2006, 01:41 PM: Message edited by: girl Mark ][/size]
that sounds great - I'm at work, and cant remember my top bar length, but yes, it was longer than yours. But yours was wider than the inside rim of my box, so I balanced it there. It's complicated, but worked for the time being.
I can do friday after 4:30, Sat after 1:50 or very early before 9am.
Thanks so much, hopefully this will correct things!
Ok, how 'bout Saturday- I lost your number. Gimme a call when you get a chance if you still have mine...
Sounds great - i'll call you later.
So I've still been planning on getting some brood comb from girlMark, but noticed this morning that my bees are now building comb! However, they're doing it at the BACK of the hive??? Why would they do that? And since they're building comb, does that mean there's a queen? Should I still get some brood comb for good measure (I'm guessing the answer to that is yes.)
Thanks again for everybody's help; I'd be lost with out you all!