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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I installed a package of bees on May 5, 2019 (now one month later). The bees were installed into two deep hive bodies that were fully waxed out and mostly still full of honey (we lost our last colony in mid January after a wild spell of weather). Brood comb looked good and ready for laying. The queen looked healthy at the time of the install. 5 days later we entered the hive to make sure she had come out of the queen cage. She had. The hive entrance was pretty active for several weeks but has died down quite a bit of recent. My wife and I opened the hive today to inspect and the bee population inside looks VERY low compared to our experiences in years past. I am no expert but it he population inside looked like a 1/4 of what I would have guessed it to be. I didn't see any real evidence of brood in the upper deep hive body (I have 2- deep bodies one on top of the other) Also worth mentioning I had a top feeder on with about 3 gallons of spring mix sugar water. Didn't look like they had drank much more than a gallon. In years past the new bees went thru this much faster.

Questions is: What's the most likely issue? The queen isn't laying and has died? Solutions? Its June 6, 2019. Is it possible to re- queen? Not sure how late in the season you can get queens. Thank you!
 

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Are there eggs? Open brood? Capped worker brood? Capped drone brood? Is the brood nest full of syrup? Are there multiple eggs in cells? Can you find the queen? There are many possibilities, but queenlessness is the most likely. A failing queen next. Too much feed can cause the brood nest to be clogged with syrup and the queen has no where to lay. The results of this are usually a slowness to build up, but can also lead to swarming. They may have swarmed quite early when they were not at all strong because there was no where for the queen to lay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I did see some eggs but no capped brood. The nest appears to be free of syrup. At the time of the package installation the frames that were brood frames only had a little capped honey in the corners. Those brood frames had a few eggs but overall were empty and ready for laying as best as I can tell from my limited experience. I did not find the queen. I need to go thru the hive again and look for her. I did find a local farm that can get me access to a new queen in about a weeks time if needed.
 

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My wife and I opened the hive today to inspect and the bee population inside looks VERY low compared to our experiences in years past.
Bee population is a trailing indicator of problems in a colony. Brood population is the more accurate assessment of how a colony is doing. A package installed on May 5 will be a mix of bees of all ages, so you should expect the population to decline for the next 4 weeks as they are raising the first round of brood. You will have the older bees dieing off, but no young replacements emerging. The low point in population should happen roughly 4 weeks after install, at which point the population should be starting to rebound, and it'll take roughly 3 weeks from that point before you have a reasonably large and growing colony.

I wouldn't be focussing on the bee population at this point, but focus on how much capped and ready to emerge brood is in the colony, then how much open brood there is. Package put in on May 5 with queen out in a couple days should be at a point now where brood is emerging and the queen is laying eggs into cells as fast as the brood emerges. If there are no eggs in the colony, then you have a problem.
 

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When you saw there was a problem you should've gone through the whole hive. For all you know there is a bunch of capped brood in the bottom deep, or NOTHING. Honestly if the queen is dead than the thing is a wash. You won't have any bees young enough to care for the queen and raise brood. Also if there is only 1/4 of the population you installed that's not enough. Last bit of advice is drawn comb or not no package belongs in a double deep. 1 deep at most and I prefer double story nucs instead they seem to start better in them. You need to get into your hive more. Once a week until your able to do an inspection with confidence and have a pretty good idea what's going on. Sorry about your hive though try catching a swarm or 2.
 

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I agree with vtbeeguy. Especially never giving new hives too much room. Took me years to learn that until a hive is at full strength they should be restricted to active frames. If you find the queen take all the brood and egg frames and put them in double nuc or one deep if that is what you have to work with. Store the rest sealed and cool until they are up to speed.
 

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With my first package I had the exact same thing happen. First with a package the population will drop dramatically because the egg laying isnt up to snuff yet. Also we think there was a swarm at sometime because the we found wasnt marked. After about a month and half the population exploded. Give it sometime and see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the info. It does sadly make sense. Probably a wash for this year. The weather turned really bad when we were in the hive at the one month mark. We didn't really get inside around the 2 week mark as we had 10 days of rain. I do see I need to be more involved. We were able to get inside yesterday and see that we have 1: No queen in site 2: Probably less than 2000-3000 bees 3: No brood, no eggs and no larva so...... thats a real bummer for this season.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Sadly no. They were very active until the 2 week point. Then we had almost 10 days of non stop rain and wet weather that kept us out of the hive. The one dry window we had we were out of town. This is why we didn't end up getting back in the hive until the one month mark (we did go inside on day 5 to make sure the queen had left the queen cage). Lessons are being learned!
 

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Without the roughly two week check, there is little that can be accurately determined. You checked to see if the queen was released. That was good. The next check is if she is laying. If not, brood can be transferred and little lost.

Crazy Roland
 

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Without the roughly two week check, there is little that can be accurately determined. You checked to see if the queen was released. That was good. The next check is if she is laying. If not, brood can be transferred and little lost.

Crazy Roland
 
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