First off, I am new to this. So I knew it would be a learning experience. Having done a ton of reading and research, I kinda thought my success level would be a little higher than it has been so far. I don't mind constructive criticism, I hope to learn what happened so I can improve my chances of future success.
Sorry if this is a bit long winded.. I'll start from the beginning and give as much info as possible so that perhaps someone can help me see what I did wrong.
I made my hives (10 frame medium boxes, SBB, telescopic cover, inner cover, natural size foundation-less frames with beveled top bar). The frames are made from pine, and rest is made from western red cedar. Glued with titebond III. The hives have been assembled for several weeks now, and the frames have been assembled for a week or so. So.. I really don't think there should be any bad smell from the glue or anything.
Wanting to test various methods I have read, I decided to try my first two packages as follows:
11 Foundationless frames
direct release queen
9 foundationless frames
2 standard frames with foundation
caged queen between the two sheets of foundation
(The hive on the left is currently empty, the one on the right is what I am calling hive 2)
I marked both queens (red elmers painters marker - which I had read here and other places was safe to use)
Both hives had mason jar feeders (2:1 cane sugar:water), upside down on the inner cover with an extra medium ontop of that, and then the telescopic cover.
I also put the syrup cans that came in the packages upside down between two bricks so that it would not be wasted (but they leaked on the lids, and killed a few bees because they got stuck in it).
One stupid thing I did do, which might have caused a problem was... not thinking.. I removed the syrup cans from the covers and put them on the stand... which was a treated 4x4. I realized the stupidity of having bees lick syrup off treated lumber the following day, and I am not sure.. but thought that could be related to my issues below.
The first 3 days were fairly chilly with the high in the upper 40s to mid 50s. Both hives seemed fairly normal and active, with bees flying when it was over about 45.
On day 3 I opened up both hives to inspect them. Both hives were very active and had lots of bees flying. It was about 60 degrees. I smoked both lightly using some wood pellets. Smoke was not hot.
only drank maybe an inch of the quart of syrup
bees hanging in sheets from the frames
no noticeable amount of comb
didn't see the queen, but didn't look either, since there were just masses of bees all hanging
drank about half of the quart of syrup
bees hanging from frames and covering the foundation
very slight amount of wax, mostly just gluing the queen cage to the foundation
did see the queen just as I was putting the inner cover on.
hive 2 is very active, and hive 1 is nearly silent. After realizing something was surely wrong, I opened hive 1 to find about 20 bees in there. Probably about 20 dead in the bottom, but they may have been there since I dumped the package in.
Day 6 (today) it was 70 degrees out, and hive 2 was much less active than I expected it to be. I didn't want to disturb it, but looking through the SBB I could see that there are alot fewer bees in there than there should be. I could see about 1/3 of a drawn frame with only 1-2 bees on the open side, and what looked to be many bees between that and the frame with foundation.
Not sure where to go from here. I am hoping hive 2 will be okay.. and I want to get more bees (in fact, I built 6 hives, and already have 2 more packages that I am supposed to pick up later this month).. but I am pretty worried with my results so far. As far as I can tell, the only thing that I did that I think could have caused this was maybe disturbing them too much - but inspecting after 3 or so days seems to be common practice. Or the syrup getting on the treated wood making them get sick or maybe perceive it as a bad location.
Any tips, ideas, suggestions, and criticisms welcome ;)