Howdy from NorCal, and advice welcome
hello. we're new to bees. the 3 kids and i love it (mom too?)! we live in the sierra foothills, 30 miles east of sacramento, california, pure heaven. we're into everything outdoors...and now top bar beekeeping too, courtesy of chandler's biobees.com e-book and an ebay 20-bar top bar hive kit purveyor from ohio.
here's the story on our 2nd package of bees. the first absconded after 4 days, perhaps due to "too much love." we were camping under the wire mesh at night, shining flashlights upward, snapping flash photos. naive, yes!
here's try #2:
*8 days ago - 4 lbs bees packaged by an amateur beekeeper, 1 caged marked queen, bees pretty rowdy
*6 days ago - put package in top bar hive & hung queen, close to dark
*5 days ago - all bees back in the package to overnight, queen cage was being ignored by all but 2-3 bees. opened hive and shook the bees in.
*4 days ago - 11am & 5:30pm all bees piled out, flew like crazy, then went right back in. orientation flights i guess. freed the queen about 7:30pm...but she may have jetted! put a 6 - 3/16" hole 1/4" plywood queen excluder in place with an entrance feeder, big bees... stealth red light under hive inspection that night showed 2 clusters of bees.
*3 days ago - all bees left hive, hanging on the outside side and below at 6:30pm. thankfully i was coached to put them back inside! bees fanned like crazy as soon as i dumped the box of bees into the hive. after 90% went in, the rest just stopped going in and clustered underneath instead. before work at 5:30am i quietly put them back hive too, just in case the queen was in that batch.
*2 days ago - fairly normal, 8oz syrup consumed, hive seemed noisy, 2 separate clusters still hanging inside. all but a small cluster slept inside.
*1 day ago - fairly normal, tied bottom board under wire mesh to hold in queen's scent, assuming there's a queen. seemed a little noisy. 2 clusters. tiny cluster slept outside too.
*today - 11:45am wife says most bees hanging on front of hive and all over entrance feeder. then, clustering on side and underneath in afternoon. then, maybe half went back inside. tonight, a small cluster is outside and a 1.5 bee layer is between new bottom board and wire mesh floor. just 4 oz syrup was consumed today. definite fanning behavior observed.
no pollen on legs yet sighted. i can't see in underneath due to the solid wall of bees.
i just pulled the queen excluder, but i think i might reapply it before light tomorrow. do i have 2 queens? 0 queens? or 1 with a rebellious sub-group of bees? holy cow this is complicated. any thoughts are welcome. tomorrow's temps, 54 - 90 F. i just hope there are bees there when i return from work.
thanks to michael bush and all here!
quite a tale...
remind me (later) to never build a top bar hive.
welcome aboard mate...
just casually something in your tale of two top bar hives (it was the best of time and the worst of times) it sounds like the group of bees already had a queen (don't ask me for details). depending on humidity at your location the temperature could be the largest reason for the girls to be hanging outside.