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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a hive of bees that haven't been handled in at least 3 years, every time I mentioned I needed to get the bees out of there and into a managed system, I was given the reply, "Why? They have plenty of nectar..."

I have been reading up, building some equipment, trying not to kill the bees as I have limited bees and funds. I figured I would move them into the new hive in the spring where I could build them up, but Friday I went out to the barn to hear a buzzing and finally noticed a "swarm" on the wall. I got a box and set it up with some top bars, drilled some 3/8 holes in the front, a 3/4 hole in the back, and started getting them in it.

I know it's a little late for swarming, so I kludged a veil and cut some finger holes in some old socks and stuck my leather gloves in them, grabbed a flat wrecking bar, pulled the top off the old hive and found a huge mess. Previously I had carefully started to pry the top off so I could put up some supers and try to drum the bees up, but was driven off. There was no inner cover, no frames on top, and a plastic tray of some kind with black oily looking comb, SHB grubs, 1 wax moth larvae, all fallen from the lid.

I tried to take pictures, but the batteries ran out on my camera and it was starting to get dark. What I thought was a hive "chock full of bees" kept sliding on the bottom board and turned out to be one medium with spotty cross comb, lots of wax moth cocoons, about 5 or more inches of black detritus, a mouse nest, and rotten frames.

I set up one fresh medium with cleaned frames, the one heavy medium, a good empty one from the old hive on the bottom, a clean bottom board (plastic), and an inner cover I made with metal window screen over the hole.

The thing is I saw no queen cells. I did see dozens of small hive beetles. If my reasoning is correct, the majority of the hive absconded due to the infestation. The bees in the reformed hive are glad to drink 2:1 syrup and are going in and out like things are Ok. Will they continue like this without a queen present?

The "swarm" has taken up residence in the wooden box I threw together, though there's a bunch still on the wall of the barn, they hang out on the front of the box, fan, and act as if things are Ok. I noticed I had a brood bar on the outside, pulled it up to switch it with a honey bar in the middle and the bees came out en force. They're curtaining on the middle bars, and I wonder if the queen is in or out of this box. I did use some Lemon grass oil.

Questions:
1) Does this sound like a swarm, or did they abscond?
2) I'm a little nervous, does this behavior sound as if the "swarm" has the queen in the box?
3) Is it possible to get these girls through the winter with it being so late in the year? They will have to draw all new comb.
4) I've seen the plans for SSB traps, but I am getting odd dimensions on the screen. So far I've heard #6, #7, and #8. Will the #8 work for SHB?
5) Will it be Ok to process the old rotten comb, feed the honey back to the bees, and use the rendered wax for starter strips and so on?

I'll get some pictures up as soon as I can. I'm looking at the stuff about building SHB traps, and feeders.
 

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4) I've seen the plans for SSB traps, but I am getting odd dimensions on the screen. So far I've heard #6, #7, and #8. Will the #8 work for SHB?
I'm looking at the stuff about building SHB traps, and feeders.

Here is a link to the traps I am building...http://greenbeehives.com/abgrbe.html These people offer their traps in many different ways, finished, kits, metal parts only and even full plans for DIY...

I ordered 4 of their metal only parts kits because they were only 6.00 for the pan and screen wire and were cheaper than I could have made the parts and purchased the materials. I ordered 50 of their medium assembled frames at the same time.

The order went smoothly and delivery was prompt... What more could you ask for :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Ok, it's 1:15 AM, Sunday morning. I went out to fix an entrance feeder I had the glue setting on, and looked at the bees. The swarm is no longer on the wall, the box has a few hangers on loitering around the entrance, and all seems well.

Yepper! Thank you Swatkins, I downloaded and printed the web page for that earlier. He says the size mesh, "Is #6 aluminum mesh" However, Michael Bush writes that #6 will allow a bee to pass through. And here.

Here's a photo of the hive before all the action.



There was nothing but trash below the hole they tore here.

 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Well, I might have panicked. Both colonies seem to be in order. I have looked over major SHB infestation, and I don't see anything except fallen comb, nasty mess, and angry bees.

There's not a smell of "rotting oranges," though it's pretty sour, it seems more opportunistic meaning the parasites moved in after the collapse. I still have the comb to deal with. Does anybody have any ideas?

I have some photos up, the Hi-res are here:

http://www.captainchicken.com/swarm/index.html


The hive after I tore it down.



This is after I removed the comb, but the mess I discovered when I opened the old hive.


This is the wooden "nuc" I threw together
 
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