Thank you for the tip JWP - I measured the temperature today inside the hive and it reached 87 deg F. Outside temperatures today peaked at 75 degrees, so we're looking at an additional 10-15 degrees inside the hive above whatever the outside temperature is. It hasn't really been hot this year, but it will get worse in August and September when it's generally in the 90s, with only a few days exceeding 100 degrees. LA tends to get hotter than San Diego, and I was able to find references to a few successful beekeepers with roof-top hives there.
Your point, nonetheless, is well taken as the cooler was under a tree, and the fact that it was a cooler undoubtedly dampened temperature fluctuations in the interior.
So, having done quite a bit of reading in the last couple of days trying to understand, here are my lessons learned:
- Interference: As a result of two mistakes I bothered them more than was probably recommendable: (1) I installed the comb up-side down during the initial cut-out and transfer, resulting in having to pull it back out and re-installing it correctly three days later (2) the additional comb they started building to make up for what I installed correctly ended up being cross-comb, which meant I had to cut that out as well (i.e. more interference).
- Hive Orientation/Comb Direction: I am not sure how big of a deal this one is, but had I oriented the hive North/South, as BumblingBeek suggests the new comb they started building would have been aligned with the frames, potentially preventing that second cut-out.
- Temperature Change: Moving them from a shady spot in a cooler to an uninsulated wood box in full sun might have been too drastic of a change.
Does that stand to reason for those of you who have more experience?
I am not sure I can change the hive direction as it would be pointed directly at my neighbor, but the others could be addressed with some shade and more careful acclimation. I have reached out to a couple of potential contacts who might have another colony, so we'll see what happens!
Does not sound like temperature was the issue, oh well. We have been in the upper 90s here and temps on the asphalt are around 110°. I would bait your hive with some lemon grass oil and see if a swarm will pick your location of their own free will.
Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.
There is no personal rejection about it, but it's a good learning experience. One of my first beekeeping attempts had a couple robbing events just like yours, and I learned to take robbing threats seriously. A small or weak hive is a big robbing target and bees often patrol other hives to look for weakness in a nectar shortage time. You can read a lot about it on here and other site.
After much searching, I have finally found a replacement colony! (I know, I know, I could just order one online. But what fun is that!?). Here is the video of how I got it into my hive box: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_efI10Sfyc
The cut out was of an older beehive from a San Diego attic with Spanish roof tiles. It was hot. House was built in 1930s so the roof was made of individual boards rather than large sheets of plywood, requiring braces to get the hive out in one piece.
I transferred them in a single deep hive box, which seemed too small to me, given the size the hive was before the cut-out. I did an inspection a week after the cutout and added a second deep hive box. The colony generated a large number of supersedure cells within a week as shown at the end of the video (I never did find the queen).
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My guess would be that I just leave them to do what they do best - raise their own new queen... Or am I wrong here? Is it possible that some of those cells were started because they didn't have enough space and were preparing to cast a swarm to reduce their numbers?
i would consider dividing the double deep in to 2 singles making sure each gets a frame with queen cells.
this will double your chances of ending up with a mated queen.
After I posted here I received a call from the home owner where I originally removed the hive a week ago. He was working on some trees nearby and happened to find a softball size swarm in one of the branches:
I cut the branch off and re-united it with the hive we had removed before - the ones that had started the 13+ supersedure cells. Upon inspection of the branch, I found a single egg:
So I have high hopes that I got the queen after all! I will give them a few days and inspect the hive for eggs to see whether the queen was accepted. If I can't find eggs by the end of the week I will follow the recommendation from squarepeg and split the hive to increase my chances of a mated queen.
I just inspected the colony, which has now been in the hive box for 13 days, and it was chocked full of bees, nectar, pollen and even some of what I think is newly capped honey. However, not a single egg anywhere to be found! Nor did I find the queen. The supersedure cells we had last week were all open and empty:
I did notice that the bees were running up my gloves much more than the last few times I've done an inspection. I have read that that can be a sign of queenlessness? If I had to spin a story to try to make sense of this it would look something like this:
The colony was queen-less after the cut-out and started the supersedure/emergency cells using larva they could find from before the cut-out. When I added the cluster of bees a week later they didn't accept that queen and/or the rest of the cluster (I did notice a temporary increase in dead bees around the hive for a couple of days). Since the larva used for the supersedure cells were a few days old by the time they were made into queen cells they would have hatched by now (I didn't realize they'd hatch that fast, I should have listened to squarepeg right away). So there is a virgin queen out there somewhere trying to get mated and will hopefully be successful and make it back in time.
(I did see a bee that looked suspiciously like a queen outside the hive, so I started a queen identification thread in the queen section of the forum).
Does that sound about right? Or should I be ordering a queen and introducing it to the hive to be safe?
I haven't been back to this thread till now, but I would say all the cells in your cutout hive are emergency cells and you didn't retrieve the queen from the cutout or it was killed. The queen cells were built around existing eggs in normal cells. Once cells are started, they consider themselves queenright. You introduced a swarm, bad idea, which seems to have had a queen, and they killed it because they had that covered with the cells. Now the cells have emerged, probably just recently, and you probably have a virgin queen in the hive. The timeline seems right for emergence time, if I understand your posts right. It's too soon for eggs. Once the queen emerges, it can take as little as a week or up to 3-4 weeks for egg laying. I generally see 2-3 weeks. Check them in a couple weeks.
You are making manipulations but don't know the timelines of queen cells and queen mating. You would do well to research these events so you know what not to do. Your swarm should have been put in it's own nuc to see how good a queen it had. You may have had a second hive out of it. Use the errors for learning. There's a lot to learn in a bee colony.
One more thing, don't ever introduce a queen to be safe. You probably will be throwing a queen away. You need to first determine if there is no queen in the colony. Queens can stop laying, and there's still a queen. Started queen cells mean there's a queen. Unmated queens means the same. Any time there's a sense of queenright of a colony, they will kill any queen introduced.
If you are not absolutely sure with certain evidences, don't add a queen.
That's the piece of knowledge I was missing: Queencells = Queenright. In all the reading I did I never picked up on that but rather believed that a laying queen was what would be considered queenright...
The "swarm" was a cluster of bees from the same cut-out, so I'm surprised that they would be rejected that soon after they were separated... That would have been their original queen...
The other thread has confirmed that I did spot a young/virgin queen just outside the hive, so that goes seem to fit the story of the emergency cells emerging just recently.
Thank you for the help - much learning going on here. 🙂 I will leave them alone for two weeks and see what happenes.