I started beekeeping this year, and bought a package of Italian bees mid April. Everything was going great, extremely full hive, queen was laying like a champ, and I was even able to take (1) super off for myself. Then came end of August/September, and things started going down hill. I am not sure what happened, but I will try to remember every detail in hopes someone can lend me their opinion.
End of August -
- I took (1) super off, but left (2) for them. I wanted to me make sure they had enough for winter (I calculated 50 pounds at that time)
- During a routine check, I had a bunch of bees but smelled a sweet scented funk that is hard to explain. Being my first year, i figured it was brood related and normal.
- Another odd thing, i noticed bees pulling white partially developed bees out of their cells and carried them off to the wood. I looked this up and figured the cells were not perfect so the bees were doing their thing.
- During an inspection, I noticed 7-9 swarm caps on a single frame, but outside of that only a couple. No eggs in the cells, but eggs everywhere else so I was not worried
- Because of the swarm cells, I left the (2) supers on the hive because now I was really worried about overcrowded (Still had a ton of bees). So my hive consisted of 2 deeps, excluder, and 2 supers.
- I did notice a handful of bees looked disoriented, and dusted white. They were stumbling around in the hive, bit only a handful so i moved on.
End of September
- The hive still had the swarm cups, but no eggs in the cups.
- At this point, i have not seen the queen for a month or so due to the massive number of bees I had. I just could not spot her on the frames but saw all stages of larva so no worries.
- Some bees were still "dusted white" and stumbling, but not extravagant. Swarm cups still their but no eggs in cells.
- Wife mentioned the smell too, she said it was gross but cant explain it in words.
- We fed the bees (2) gallons of 2:1 syrup to get ready for winter (following beekeeping for dummies). This was a top feeder
- I did notice quite a hive beatles, but only at the 2 outer frames. Maybe 5-9 on each frame.
- I took 1 super off and stored it in my basement. I think this was when the queen holds back on egg laying, so the population was getting a bit smaller.
- I went to see how bees were doing and noticed a pretty bad robbing situation.
- I immediately covered the hive with a sheet and went back at night to see if the situation calmed down
- Almost all my bees were gone. Maybe a few hundred dead bees on the ground, and a bunch of other bees (yellow jackets, different species of honey bees) were in the hove having a feast.
So what do you think happened?
- They all left and bees came in afterwards to clean up the left overs?
- Swarm, leaving a weaker hive that got killed by robbers?
- Something else?
And do you think I can use the wax for the new package next year, or start all over?
Thanks for any help you can give! Its been a bad day....