History: Been interested in beekeeping for years, countless hours of videos and some reading. A friend purchased a property from the county that had hives that have been untouched for 6 years, 1 being active. Decided it was time to start acquiring equipment. Found somebody getting out of the hobby and bought all of her gear. A bunch of deeps, shallows, a few nucs, suits, frames, tools, honey processing stuff, etc.... I have not inspected the 6 year untouched hive yet but may do so shortly.
Being green I am sure there are many things I have done wrong and will do wrong. Open to criticism as long as its not a flame war. I follow the local beekeeping groups here and will be at the next monthly meeting since stumbling into this. Anything I have watched or read has all been about swarms that have not settled down, or cutouts that are considerable, but nothing that could apply to this situation.
Location: Central Florida (Tampa Bay) (what is winter?)
Sunday: I received a call from a friend (who I just finished installing a new air conditioner in the same house) with dead bees around their porch light. A swarm set up shop on the roof overhang and at the time of discovery the comb + bees were the size of a cantaloupe. Not many bees at all, maybe a thousand or 2? Captured the queen (adrenaline made me go for a drone first) and harvested 3 of the 4 combs. Cumulative it was enough comb to fill half a deep frame. In my lack of planning and the fact that this was my first attempt at anything bees, they werent put in the same frame. I couldnt hang the comb so everything was upside down. I knew that I needed to save as much as I could in order for this colony to have a chance. A few dozen cells of pollen (surface area of a playing card??) and no brood. no capped anything. Nuc placed on the ladder I was working on and came back an hour after sunset to close up and move them.
I did not move this colony to the land my friend purchased and is fine with bees because A) it was half a mile away and B) I dont know the health of the hive thats there. I moved this colony to my house. Left the queen in the queen catcher clip overnight and most of the following day so they wouldnt bugger off. Monday is when I released the queen from her jail and threw some frames with foundations in. They have attached the combs more securely than gravity at this point. Gave them a front feeder with 1:1
Today (Tuesday) rolls around and against my intuition I opened them up. (curiosity killed the.... bees?) Queen is still there, consolidated everything to 1 frame, and they have started to build on one of the foundations. I didnt want a problem with sideways comb or hanging from the lid so we currently sit with 1 unbuilt frame with rubber banded cut-out, and 4 empties with foundation. They are definitely filling comb with nectar. I did see 1 bee going for the sugar water (maybe 5 minutes after last smoke, unsure if that means anything) but no level change there. A few hours prior during the day traffic in and out was consistent and good from what I can tell based on the amount of bees here.
Since from what ive been reading its pretty late for a swarm so the chances for this colony are slim? Or is that mainly for northern areas where it actually gets cold? We might be lucky to get below 55 in the winter. Looking for opinions on what the next steps would be. Im assuming moving to a 10 frame would be ill-advised until they start to fill out the open frames. Also the spot that i picked is not the best, but with construction going on and dogs, I didnt have time to prepare my area where I wanted to put them so they are on the side of my house. Unfortunately they are near my condensing unit, which I already see theres some bees that got chopped up. The entrance is facing away from the unit and I intend on moving the colony. Its going to be interesting to inch the colony to it's final place after things settle down.
Is this colony going to have to play catch up in order to bulk up a bit? From what Ive read the queen should be fine without starting to lay in the time frame for everything thats gone on. Should I consider pulling a frame of brood from that other colony I have and havent inspected? After I inspect it of course. The only thing I know about it is I did a quick once over with my suit (no smoke) and set the empty hives aside for destruction. I pulled the top and was greeted by some angry bees but I was able to see that there were 10 frames. Im sure their anger was attributed to no smoke. I intend on seeing if I can get an experienced beekeeper to come with me for a proper inspection. Or if I am not going that route, should I continue to supplement with sugar water and/or pollen substitute?
My gut says that this colony wont survive, but I want to correct anything im doing wrong and give them the best chance.
And here is what we started with and ended with: