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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Last May I got a nuc in an 8 frame medium. Our nectar flow wasn't great last year, so I fed syrup in the fall and kept sugar cakes on the hive over winter. They survived, and early on this year were bringing in honey and pollen. The first week of April I removed the lower box, which only had empty comb. I put on a feeder atop the hive, and they eventually took about two quarts of syrup but stopped taking it. Mid April I added a third box on top to keep up with the honey flow. Then we had quite a bit of rain, and it was a couple of weeks before I checked again.

The hive had two dead bees on the bottom board, and two dead bees clinging on the bottom of one frame. All the honey
was gone from the frames. There was no tell-tale sign of robbing (lots of cappings on the bottom board and roughly chewed cells). There were no queen cells or cups. Just looks like the bees took all their honey and left. There were no wax moth larvae (so I guess I caught it early) and less than a half-dozen SHB larvae on the bottom board. The comb all appears undamaged. There were no scratch marks or other signs on the exterior of the hive being molested.

It really is a mystery to me why an established hive would abscond this early in the year. Does anyone have any similar experience or ideas? A couple of years ago SHBs were really bad here, and I had three hives abscond, but there was no doubt about the reason why: the SHBs had made a mess of things and taken over. This hive now just looks like a bunch of frames of drawn comb that I had stored away.
 

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Your mite management?
 

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Agreed, all aspects of hive management done have been discussed, except for the most important thing of all that is likely to affect hive survival, or death.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Mite count was low last fall so didn't treat. A virus would explain a hive dying out, but this appears to be more in line with absconding. Bees and brood seemed okay, but now gone.
 

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Did you find any empty queen cells? I had a hive abscond last year after a new queen hatched. I think the queen went out to mate and couldn't find her way back into the hive so it decided to abscond.
 

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A mite driven collapse can appear as an abscond. The bees are weak. As they die any remaining bees that are able will remove the carcasses until the few that remain end up on the bottom.
 

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Did you find any empty queen cells? I had a hive abscond last year after a new queen hatched. I think the queen went out to mate and couldn't find her way back into the hive so it decided to abscond.
I’ve never seen or heard of this....
 

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I’ve never seen or heard of this....
It was weird. There were bees and some queen cells/recently hatched cells one week and the next week the nuc was empty with only a few (5 maybe) dead bees left in it. I had a robber screen on the nuc and I assume that the queen made it out to mate but couldn't get back in so they absconded. I had a jar of syrup on top of the nuc, didnt see any robbing, and the mites seemed ok in the source hive so I guessed that it had to do with the queen not making it back in after a mating flight. It could have been something else, but this was/is my best guess based on my limited experience.
 

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In elmer fuds case could this be multiple after swarms? Newly emerged bees usually go through a progression of house jobs before they orient but I have read that with motivation they can fly at a much younger age in the absence of foragers. With no honey in the hive it is fly or die.

Bees taking off with all the honey in a hive is pretty much discounted as impossible. You cannot get enough bees in a hive to do it. I am sure I have read that the carrying capacity of each bee just does not add up in a mass exodus scenarion

If a colony gets totally robbed out in short time the evidence would be quite obvious. Without signs of robbing or moth or beetle damage, my thoughts run to collapse from mite loads.
 

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In elmer fuds case could this be multiple after swarms? Newly emerged bees usually go through a progression of house jobs before they orient but I have read that with motivation they can fly at a much younger age in the absence of foragers. With no honey in the hive it is fly or die.
I am not sure. I accidentally killed the queen in the original hive in late july. After a week I took one of the frames with queen cells and put it in a nuc with a few other frames. I left another frame with queen cells in the original hive. One of the frames that I moved into the nuc had some stores and I shook in some additional nurse bee's. A few weeks after creating the nuc (2-3 I think) I added a jar with some syrup above the nuc when it seemed like they were getting light on stores. They absconded after I added the jar of syrup.
 

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I am not sure. I accidentally killed the queen in the original hive in late july. After a week I took one of the frames with queen cells and put it in a nuc with a few other frames. I left another frame with queen cells in the original hive. One of the frames that I moved into the nuc had some stores and I shook in some additional nurse bee's. A few weeks after creating the nuc (2-3 I think) I added a jar with some syrup above the nuc when it seemed like they were getting light on stores. They absconded after I added the jar of syrup.
I did not realize they were emergency queen cells rather than swarm cells, so the multiple afterswarms scenario is unlikely. Absconding is something I have no first hand experience with. Just conjecturing. This is different than Homesteaders thread opening scenario, but also seems not typical for the reason proposed.

We rather screw up our knowledge bank if we misattribute the cause for something we observe but sometimes it is hard to avoid.
 
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