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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    23

    Post

    I installed a new package yesterday. They're all gone today. What did I do wrong?

    Here's the situation. Top bar hive that is shaped like three meduims side-by-side. Essentially a long hive with top bars. The floor is totally screened.

    I installed the package in one end with nine top bars with starter strips, one top bar with a full foundation attached in the middle, and a follower board. That was early yesterday afternoon. The bees all grouped on the entrance side of the foundation. I put two sandwich baggies of 50/50 syrup in the bottom. They consumed the syrup yesterday and overnight. I added a quart baggie this morning. It was partially consumed. By 6 this evening they are gone.

    There is a small bit of evidence of comb building just over the entrance.

    The bees were Minnesota hygenic.

    Theories:
    - it was too light because of the screen floor
    - it was too small because of the full piece of foundation and they couldn't/wouldn't move to the other side
    - just because
    - ???

    I'd like to try again, but I'd also like to have clue as to why these left before I spend more money. All ideas will be appreciated.

    Thanks

    Ken

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,278

    Post

    Sometimes they just decide they want better accomadations. A few drops of lemongrass essential oil will help anchor them to the hive. A spritz of lemon pledge on the sides or bottom will do in a pinch. A frame of open brood works even better.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    23

    Post

    Michael,

    You raise a couple more questions in my mind.

    Do you always use something (lemongrass oil, brood) to anchor a new package to a hive?

    Do you think that having a full screen bottom in a medium depth long hive is OK from the lightness viewpoint?

    Thanks

    Ken

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,278

    Post

    No, I usually don't. But I try to keep an eye on them and if they are clustering on the front of the hive, like they are thinking of absconding, I take a different box and put some lemongrass oil in and shake them into that box. In case some smell in the first one is bothering them. Old comb helps. Old boxes help. At my point I can always find an old box and old comb and some brood to hold them. When you're starting out you have new boxes and bare foundation and funny scented foundation. [img]smile.gif[/img]

    I would close the bottom up until the hot weather is causing them to beard. I don't know about the light, I would do it for the drafts.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2004
    Location
    Berkey, OH, USA
    Posts
    1,486

    Post

    Hi Ken
    I think your instinct about the open floor may be part of it. FROM what you describe it sounds like an awfully big hive>

    My guess is that it was not tight enough from them to feel comfortable. If you decide to keep the hive i would cover up the bottom screen for now and consider making a follower board to reduce it to the size of a single medium. Then expand slowly. THis will help the make straight comb too.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    23

    Post

    Thanks to both.

    Actually I do have a follower board and was using only 10 top bar's width.

    I also now have some lemongrass essential oil and have covered the bottom screen.

    Of course, there are no bees...

    I originally had a frame of old comb I was going to put in the box but feared transmitting something (I don't know what). So I elected to not put that frame in. Apparently a bad choice. Oh well, live and learn.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Oakland, CA
    Posts
    27

    Post

    Hi Ken,
    I just had my new package of bees abscond their new hive 3 times!
    I managed to capture the swarm since they were nearby all 3 times. I tried lemongrass, and other things; so far the only thing working seems to be adding comb I got from a friend's TBH. I'm hoping they stay now.
    I think I may have a queen problem. Perhaps something happened to your queen?
    Anyway, I feel your pain. Don't give up though, and better luck next time.
    -beebee

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    23

    Post

    beebee,

    I wasn't fortunate enough to find the swarm. I did get another package and just now installed it - with two frames of comb, lemongrass oil and lots of sugar water.

    Here's hoping....

    I told my package supplier it would probably be much cheaper to just buy the honey from him, but not nearly as much fun.

    Ken

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Troupsburg, NY
    Posts
    4,074

    Post

    When installing new packages always block the entrances with a queen excluder, always, doesn't matter what kind of hive you have. I know this will be hard to do in a topbar hive, but you have to do it. Then make sure the only way out is through the excluder. You only need to leave it on long enough for the queen to start laying, then the brood will keep them there.
    "I reject your reality, and substitute my own." Adam Savage

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Ft. Worth, Texas
    Posts
    30

    Post

    I have a plastic queen excluder that I staple to the box, just over the entrance. Works well.

  11. #11

    Post

    when you get a package, are there drones in it? won't they pile up on the excluder (maybe I"m thinking of the wrong piece of equipment?)

    Mark
    urban top bar hives in Oakland and Berkeley, CA...

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,278

    Post

    >when you get a package, are there drones in it?

    Some.

    >won't they pile up on the excluder (maybe I"m thinking of the wrong piece of equipment?)

    Yes.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  13. #13

    Post

    My understanding of 'excluder' is the wire things that fit between a super and the brood chamber in a Langstroth hive. What are you guys talking about here for an entrance barrier?
    urban top bar hives in Oakland and Berkeley, CA...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    San Jose CA
    Posts
    164

    Post

    Hi Ken,

    > Top bar hive that is shaped like three meduims
    > side-by-side. Essentially a long hive with top
    > bars. The floor is totally screened.

    That's what I run.

    > - it was too light because of the screen floor

    I don't believe this is a factor. Three of my hives have tops made out of blue plexiglass because it was free and lightweight. The interior is bathed in pale blue light as well as having a screened floor. None of the bees introduced have cared.

    > - it was too small because of the full piece of
    > foundation and they couldn't/wouldn't move to
    > the other side

    I do not use follower boards to reduce the size of the hive until after bees have started making comb. Bees seem to 'size up' space available and if it is too small take off. The only times I have had bees abscond is when the only hives available were single deeps. Others have accepted the single deep without complaint, but these days I never use less than two mediums for swarms or packages.

    > nine top bars with starter strips, one top bar
    > with a full foundation attached in the middle,
    > and a follower board

    The full foundation in the middle may have reduced the perceived size to that of a nuc. OTOH, most bees introduced into a Lang filled with frames of foundation stick around....

    I would put this down to bad luck and a new box with lingering odors that are not bee-like.

    JP

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Ft. Worth, Texas
    Posts
    30

    Post

    I use a plastic excluder purchased from Dadant. I staple it to the front of the tbh over the entrance. The excluder is removed after a few days. I supply sugar/water feed during this time.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,278

    Post

    Sometimes they abscond. I've had one package do it in thirty years and one other one try it, but I caught them clustering on the front of the hive and put some lemongrass oil in another box and shook them into that. They seemed satisfied with that and stayed. I think they didn't like the smell of the hive for some reason.

    It's not common behavior, but it's not unheard of.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Columbia, MO
    Posts
    23

    Post

    Update:

    I sprinkled a few drops of lemongrass oil in the hive and put two frames of drawn comb in. I also blocked off the screen floor. Installed a new package without a queen excluder. They've been in about a week now - happy as clams. They are building new comb on the top bars with no cross combing. New brood in the oven.

    I'm going to blame it on the odor. I used several different types of wood and some did smell rather strongly - Spruce I think.

    Thanks to all for your comments.

    Ken

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Clatskanie, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    93

    Post

    The floor is totally screened... New packages do not like the open hive… (I thank) a friend of mind had the same thing with two of his screened bottom boards our hives are the same but I have removable bottom boards one with screens and one with out and I change it out when it gets hot. I installed with the wood bottom board and had no problems.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

    Post

    I don't advocate using oils and pledge to keep the bees in. SOmething tells me it will effect the bees pheremonal balances in the future. I do use lemon grass, however I I smash the live grass in my hands and drop it in the hive, I don't smear it around for the oils to get into the wood.

    However again, I don't use the lemongrass anymore either, since it doesn't grow here in Iowa.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

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