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Installed 3 packages in 3 med boxes with new frames and plastic foundation last weekend. Queen cage was set on screened bottom board and covered with bees when I dumped the them in the box as I have done in the past with good results. I put on entrance feeders with 1:1 syrup, inner cover and telescoping top the walked away and observed from a distance each day. First two days produced activity as expected, bees flying and taking feed. On third day, hive 1 had almost no activity and on fourth day hive two was in same condition. today I opened the hives, No bees in hive one and none in hive two. Hive three is full and looking strong. Hive one and two had started drawing comb and storing pollen and had a 1/4 cup dead bees on bottom of each. Any ideas?
 

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Michibee...You mention screened bottom boards...Did you have the mite count board installed? I have gone back to solid bottoms, as I had too many swarm catches abscond from SBB. Not a fan of SBB here...yes, even in the Florida heat and humidity, I run all solid bottoms. Also you mention plastic foundation...You have had success with plastic foundation in the past? (always open for debate...my bees will not touch the plastic foundation.) As always, my remarks are open for debate, as everyone has different opinions. Sorry for the loss of 2...good luck with the third!! (Have you taken a long hard look around your yard and neighbors for the absconded bees?)

Edited to add...You just laid the queen cage on the bottom board? Is it possible the attendants died in the cage, and the queen couldn't get released? Was the queen indeed released?
 

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Sorry to hear.

You mentioned that you added queen cage, presumably with a queen in it. Did you go back to release her during the first few days or did you direct release?

Is hive 3 near hives 1,2? Does it have an inordinate amount of bees in it? I am wondering if some of them joined up with Hive 3 (drifting).
 

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Michibee...You mention screened bottom boards...Did you have the mite count board installed? I have gone back to solid bottoms, as I had too many swarm catches abscond from SBB. Not a fan of SBB here...yes, even in the Florida heat and humidity, I run all solid bottoms. Also you mention plastic foundation...You have had success with plastic foundation in the past? (always open for debate...my bees will not touch the plastic foundation.) As always, my remarks are open for debate, as everyone has different opinions. Sorry for the loss of 2...good luck with the third!! (Have you taken a long hard look around your yard and neighbors for the absconded bees?)

Edited to add...You just laid the queen cage on the bottom board? Is it possible the attendants died in the cage, and the queen couldn't get released? Was the queen indeed released?

Queens were definitely released. the candy plugs were totally gone and no bees were in the Queen cage.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Hive 3 looks to about the 3 lbs of bees from the package. The hives are close to each other. I did not observe any potential drifting in the first few days.....then gone.........
 

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Ok the things I have learned .
Queen caged needed to be placed at the top of the frames no brainer there.
Screened bottom boards and packages causes problems . Slid in board must be in.
Package hive Closeness no closer than 20 feet because of drift .
Plastic foundation I believe really needs waxed more even if bought waxed . Package can really not like them . Wax foundation. Is better .

And after watching even after pretty much Established I still don't like the slid in screened bottom boards . I'm building some freeman ones with there trays so they fit super tight . To keep bees out from under the screen and to hope keep the Odors in and mites and beetles in check . If I don't like that I'm going solid board . And given the screen bottoms away .

Take all that anyway you want . But that's key things I have learned fast .
 

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You asked... so...

Screened bottom boards are not that they are cracked up to be. Queen cage on the bottom board screen... not a good idea.
Entrance feeder on a package... no way. IF you have to feed with one, feed internally on an inner cover.
Tough one to learn from.
 

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Installed 3 packages in 3 med boxes with new frames and plastic foundation last weekend. Queen cage was set on screened bottom board and covered with bees when I dumped the them in the box as I have done in the past with good results. I put on entrance feeders with 1:1 syrup, inner cover and telescoping top the walked away and observed from a distance each day. First two days produced activity as expected, bees flying and taking feed. On third day, hive 1 had almost no activity and on fourth day hive two was in same condition. today I opened the hives, No bees in hive one and none in hive two. Hive three is full and looking strong. Hive one and two had started drawing comb and storing pollen and had a 1/4 cup dead bees on bottom of each. Any ideas?
Looks like your area had lows in the low-40s to mid-30s in the few days following install? I wouldn't put a queen cage on a solid wood bottom if it were going to be that cold, let alone a screened one. Maybe your queen ended up chilled and they took off?
 

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Bummer for the loss. From what you posted the SBB most likely was the cause. With the queen cage sitting directly on the screen she probably got chilled or the bees just could not regulate the temp very well. Entrance feeder would not be the cause because it's all I use year round without problems - don't care for the hive top feeders. I'm assuming you used the entrance reducer with small opening? That will help the bees regulate the temperature of hive and prevent robbing. I cut my reducers down so I can rotate & use both small opening when needed along with the entrance feeder. As far as foundation, was it the plasticell that's beeswax coated? From my experience I have found that the straight plastic does not do well for me - my bees just don't like it.
 

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I have SBBs on all my nucs and I never take out the inserts . I have DBL. deeps with SBBs and I only take the inserts out of them after I treat for mites just to see the drop count . I have been running SBBs this will be the 5th year and this year half I put my SOLIDS back on just to see if there's a differents but like I said I left the inserts in all my nucs I feel if the hive is new they don't like the open space. And the brood stays warm with SOLIDS I live in the north and I have found the bees like it warm if not hot mine do anyway. And as far as plastic frames go I run plastic and it works fine for me I have my bee's on 4.9 cell . I only ever had 2 hives abscound and that was in 2012 when I was treatment free to many VARROA Good luck .
 

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if absconding is a problem, as suggested above use a closed or solid bottom board. California packages have a lot less shb in the packages this would help. put the queen cage at the top of the frame with a marshmalo plug. top feed with 1:1 syrup, if drawn foundation for a week or 2, much longer for undrawn or foundationless, they may or may not take the syrup, protein patties often help too ... the big thing is to use an entrance drone/queen excluder to keep the queen in the hive. leave it on a couple of weeks then check for and deal with queen cells if present. the excluder will give the time so everybody wants to stay home with the brood. this assumes your real sure your package queen is properly mated... a lot of this problem comes from the several things such as: location, genetics, weather, season, diseases, pests, queen quality, and just plain luck...this may not give you comfort once they are gone, but it is preventable [mostly].
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for the help. My bet is putting the Q cage low in the hive was the problem. Never did it before, will never do it again. Just for the record, I use wax coated plasticell. The SBB did not have a slide in board installed, probably mistake #2.
 
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