I put a three pound package of bees in my topbar hive on may 5. Of the 31 topbars, bars 9,10,11 have comb on them about the size of baseballs. Nice and straight not crossing. Bees are still taking sugar water but most are not. Question I have is it don't look like there are as many bees now as when I put the package in. Could part of the bees left for some reason? If the queen left wouldn't all the bees have left? They are not mean in any way. The bees that are flying in and out of the hive don't look like they are carrying polen.
Are you sure you don't see any pollen at all? Check the baseball sized combs and look for pollen packed into one of a few cells. its only be a week since you installed the bees and lots can happen in a week. How big is the bee cluster relative to the combs, are there lots of bees surrounding the combs or are there only bees on the combs and the combs fully and easily visible if you look in from the back of the hive. They should be pretty well covered and you shouldn't be able to see the comb without looking pretty hard if the combs are that small. The bees only build comb as large as the cluster in the beginning. After the build that much comb you have to wait for new bees to emerge and as the cluster grows so will the combs. Eventually when the brood nest has reached critical mass (i.e. the queen can't keep it filled because it's so large), then the bees will start working on extra combs for honey storage at the back of the nest.
My hives built 5-8 almost full combs in the first week or maybe 2 weeks.
Not that this is important, but I would take those bars and move them up front a little more so that the front of your hive is the brood nest chamber, not somewhere close to the middle. This way when you cull combs you cull them backwards. Place the existing combs to bars 2,3,4 or maybe bars 1,2,3 is what I would do but leave them in order and orientation.
[This message has been edited by Scot Mc Pherson (edited May 13, 2004).]
You see less bees for the first three weeks or so because a lot of them die off all the time. Plus, during the day a lot will be foraging. Then when the brood starts emerging the population goes back up. You also often get some drift to other hives, if they are around.
I went back ouy to watch the bees again. Some bees are carrying polen. I don't know what the others are doing, but some are carring polen. If you think I should move the bars with comb closer to the front I will. If it is "BETTER MANAGEMENT" it needs to be done. It is very cloudy, almost raining so I will wait until tomorrow. I know I have read not to get too trusting, but it is easy to set two feet away from the hive and watch the action. The bee seem to care less. One more thing, tell me it is o.k. for a fifty-one year old man to set and watch bugs crawl in and out of a wooden box. Some people would think that is nuts.
<<One more thing, tell me it is o.k. for a fifty-one year old man to set and watch bugs crawl in and out of a wooden box. Some people would think that is nuts.>>
Wait till they see you mowing AROUND dandelions!