In July a feral colony moved into the eaves of my house (over 200 years old). About two weeks ago I opened the eaves and removed the hive. (My first encounter with bees) It was quite a battle. I moved the colony to a new hive. I have no idea if I got the queen or not. And I probably lost 2/3 of the bees. It is now heading into winter. I would like to have the colony survive but I don't know if I have a queen and I'm sure there isn't enough food. Can a hive be moved indoors over winter and fed? Without a queen would it matter? If I could get a queen would the colony survive? Where do I get a queen this time of year?
If you put any of the brood cells with eggs, (very tiny white things), in the new hive, they are making a new queen if you did not get her. After sixteen days you can open the hive and look for a large queen cell, (looks like a verticle skinny peanut), and see if it has been opened from the bottom. Chances are that there are a few, and some will be chewed open from the side, those were killed as they were extras.
Hind sight is perfect, sorry to say that you should have waited until spring if you really wanted them to have a good chance of survival. But you have what you have, and to give them a chance you will need to feed them starting right NOW with a two sugar to one water solution by volume until it gets too cold for them to take any more.
Moving them inside will not increase their chances for survival unless they have an excape tube so they can come and go outside. If you have at least five frames covered with bees, your chances are fair. Insulating the hive would be advised in your area for such a small colony. Be sure to face them away from the prevailing winds.
Your about to get more post's with more specific how to's. Enjoy your adventure in beekeeping.
Bullseye - Thanks. I virtually decimated the hive. Because there were no good references to my problem in books or other sources, I opened the eaves and puled out approximately sixteen 8 X 10' combs. I pulled three frames (9 inch)ot of my new hive and placed four of the combs in. I didn't put them all in not knowing how the bees would begin rebuilding the hive and didn't want comb going everywhere. I can put the hive in a warm place where the bees could exit when they were able during the winter. But if I don't have queen will it matter? I feel bad about destroying the hive so I want to try to do anything I can to keep it alive.
The only way to know if you have a queen is to open the hive and look. If you see uncapped brood OR a queen cell you are queenright.
Then feed, and hope they can suck it up and store it fast enough.
I got a queen recently from Rossman apiaries, and she did the job for me. But, you might want to go with the existing queen, if you have one, since it sounds like those bees have done a lot of work since July.
[This message has been edited by Terri (edited September 30, 2004).]