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1197 Views 1 Reply 2 Participants Last post by  Michael Bush
Well, we arrived home from vacation at the end of July to find both of our first year hives completely empty of bees. :(

According to our neighbor who was watching over our critters and gardens, the bees were there only 4 days before we got home, bearding on the outside as usual. (It's been 98-100+ for nearly two weeks.)
Since there was a drought during the week we were away, I think our water pans finally ran out and the bees absconded. Local water sources had completely dried up,so I had pans of water out near the hives. No one locally has a pool (probably for miles). Food supply must have gotten low,as I had detected robbing before we left. I'm regretting not feeding sugar syrup,but I didn't think I would need to feed this early. It's odd though-I expected the weak hive to be gone,as they were queenless with a succession cell in their hive right before we left. However the strong hive had a decent queen and brood before we left.
I opened the hives a week after we got home,to dispose of everything. Wax moths had gotten into most of the brood boxes,ruining 20-30 frames. We ended up scraping out the ruined foundation and rendering it down for what wax we could get. Lots of slumgum of course,but at least we got something.
Odd things:
- the strong hive left,too. No signs of queen cells in their brood box. They were robbing the weak hive a week or so before we left,but had settled down right before we left.
-I had a SHB in the weak hive at my last inspection,but there was no sign of them or their larvae when I dissected the empty brood boxes though-just wax moth larvae
-As mentioned in other posts, these package bees I had were the least aggressive bees that I've ever experienced. My in-laws 30 odd colonies are all pissy and angry,and produce in great quantities. These bees weren't even investigating me when I was 10' from the hive.
-every last bit of honey,pollen and brood was stripped from both hives. I suspect the bees took it,but possibly it was stripped out by invaders after they left?

Things that have me worried for the future: am I going to be feeding my bees from Early July until March or so? I expected to start feeding by late August at the earliest.
Will I have adequate water? There's few running streams around here (only some drainage "streams" and a small spring). I may end up having to supplement water considerably for future colonies.
I'm beginning to question my area's suitability for bees.
I do think that I got two very weak packages,and that I got them far too late in the season to take advantage of our peak flow,which seemed to be pretty early this year.
Other than that,I'm wishing that I had fed them after my last inspection revealed that comb building and honey stores were down (and of course the robbing was occurring). Lesson learned I suppose.
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