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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Today I did a quick inspection while the sun was shinning.

Hive 1:

8 bars have comb. Comb is filling only 1/4 of available space at this time. All bars have eggs and larvae. Found 5 capped worker cells. One bar has a double comb on it with eggs and larvae. I did not see the queen but I believe she is between this double comb. I left the comb as is due to the number of eggs and larvae on it. I hope to correct this later when new bees have started to fill the rolls of the original packaged bees.

Hive 2: All 8 bars have eggs and larvae. Some capped worker cells seen. I did see the queen. All 8 bars have comb with eggs and larvae. This hive has built up faster than Hive 1 which I believe is due to the Queen being directly released. Added 3 additional bars.

Hive 3: Did not see the Queen. 6 bars of eggs and larvea. I did not see any capped brood. I believe this is due to the Queen being released later than Hive 2 and 1. This hive has built larger combs compared to the first two hives. This hive is a single hive about 25 miles from the first two hives.

Hive 4: Hive absconded when Queen was released. This was a single hive placed at the edge of a woods.

I have two different types of top bars.

One type has a slit cut down the center and a strip of foundation applied. The bees have torn down the foundation and started building on the ends of the bars working from the front of the hive to the back. In doing so, they are starting out in the saw cut in the bar but about half way down the bar the comb has started to get off center. It does not appear to an issue at this point as each bar is build with the same angle next two it. I would have liked to have all the comb straight on the bar, but at this point I cannot correct the situation without destroying the combs. I tried this on one and the comb broke off the bar.

The other bar has a strip of wood down the center. This strip is just under 1/4 inch wide. I melted a short strip of foundation onto this wood strip. The bees are removing the wax foundation and building their own comb from scratch. However, they are just about perfectly following this wooden strip. There are a few places in which the comb is a but crooked, but does not appear to be an issue as it is only at the connection point on the bar.

I think the bars with the wooden strip are best. I had started to take them apart and use the saw cut top bars with starter strips. However, I ended up trying the bars with the wood strip anyway and I am happy I did. Future bars will have a more narrow wooden strip as I thin it is overkill using the wider wood strip.

Note 1: The bars with the double comb are at the ends with the follower boards. I believe the extra space created by the follower board is the reason for this. Any future hives will have a follower board without any space between it and the next bar.

Note 2: I had been worried that I wouldn't be able to spot the eggs. Well, they stick out very well with new comb as a background. Not sure if that will change when the comb darkens up over time.

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Congratulations, I suspect you did a manual release of number 4 queen. She could have been lost on mating if you took a more natural release and was unmated. Searching package lost, hive lost, bees lost this year I come to a few possibilities
1) breeders are training the bees to escape so they can sell another
2) breeders are no longer using candy plugs so the queen can escape and sell another
3) manually releasing the queen is suddenly wrong
4) whoever advocated or taught manual release did not emphasize a key point
5) manual release works with the advocate because their bees are specially selected for manual release
6)we have become impatient in this most relaxing and patient of hobbies and no longer use the slow release method developed over 150 years
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