New Package Absconded
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    4

    Default New Package Absconded

    Hi all,

    I am new to beekeeping and just installed my first three packages this past Saturday.

    On Sunday one of the hives had very little activity going on compared to the other two. They had been acting different than the other two packages to start out with. While I was there I opened the top cover to look at the feeder (we are using top feeders) and the bees weren’t into the sugar water at all. The other hives had bees that were using the sugar water. From there, I decided to check and make sure that the bees were still present. I lifted the feeder slightly and it looked like they were all still in there.

    I went back to the hives yesterday, Tuesday, to release the queens. When I opened that particular hive all of the bees were gone. The queen was still left in the hive inside of her cage, and she was alive, but all of the bees are gone. What happened? Is there anything I could have done to prevent this?

    Thanks for your help! I would like to prevent this from occurring, again, if possible.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Southern Virginia
    Posts
    302

    Default Re: New Package Absconded

    I certainly am a rookie, so my thoughts aren't as expert, but perhaps there was another queen shook in with the other bees....Packages can often abscond but will usually stay with a queen.

    When you say "all bees are gone" do you mean literally the only bee is the queen, or, does she have some workers left behind?

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    10,863

    Default Re: New Package Absconded

    Welcome to Beesource!


    >> Is there anything I could have done to prevent this?

    What kind of bottom board do your hives have? If by chance your hives have a screened bottom (not closed off with a tray etc) that may be a contributing factor. Quite a few reports on Beesource of new package bees absconding from open screened bottom hives.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: New Package Absconded

    I do have a screened bottom board that is not closed off with a tray. We had though that there might possibly have been another queen mixed in the hive because all of the bees were gone.

    Should I try covering up the bottom of the hive in the future? Atleast for a couple days?

    Is it okay for us to go ahead and get another package to put in there?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    10,863

    Default Re: New Package Absconded

    I would close off the screen bottom until at least the bees have some brood in the new hive.

    If you don't have a better option for a tray, cutting up one of those scrap/free corrugated plastic 'political signs' is an option. I see no reason not to put another package in that hive once the screen is closed off.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: New Package Absconded

    Sounds good. Thank you!

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Glocester, RI
    Posts
    38

    Default Re: New Package Absconded

    I am guessing you installed more than one package that day? Is there a chance that the missing bees are in one of the other hives? I remember reading on one of the sites that someones packages were side by side for a few days in transit and the absconding package had joined the other hive cause they liked that queen better? Just my 2 cents...Hope you find them

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    5,486

    Default Re: New Package Absconded

    I'd see how populated the other hives were now....

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Location
    Joliet, il
    Posts
    1,875

    Default Re: New Package Absconded

    A few drops of lemongrass oil helps keep the bees in the hives. People use it as swarm lures. I put some lemongrass oil in my hives, they were brand new never had bees in them. I think that's a contributing factor why my bees stayed. They are building comb like crazy now.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Southern Virginia
    Posts
    302

    Default Re: New Package Absconded

    Quote Originally Posted by Billboard View Post
    A few drops of lemongrass oil helps keep the bees in the hives. People use it as swarm lures. I put some lemongrass oil in my hives, they were brand new never had bees in them. I think that's a contributing factor why my bees stayed. They are building comb like crazy now.
    my next package will get a new, aired out hive along with syrup freshly sprayed on the inside to help keep them in.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: New Package Absconded

    It doesn't really look like they moved to the other hive. We're going to go look for them this afternoon and see if they might be anywhere around. If they don't turn up, I think we'll get another package installed as soon as possible....this time I'll put a cover over the bottom and add some lemongrass oil into the hive.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
    Posts
    3,388

    Default Re: New Package Absconded

    Old brood comb, even if it's in bad shape, a frame of stores, and a rainy day are all helpful in keeping a package in the hive.

    It is quite possible that you had a queen in the package outside the queen cage, especially if it was a virgin queen, they can sometimes get through queen excluders.

    I assume you don't have any old comb, and are starting on empty foundation.

    I do not leave the plastic board out of any of my hives ever. I will pull it back an inch or two in the hot part of the summer to reduce bearding, but otherwise it's fully seated. The queen won't lay in the bottom half of the comb with it out, and packages will abscond. Too cold and drafty for them, and if you had a queen they definitely will not stay.

    Warm, dry, and dark is what bees like.

    Peter

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