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New beekeeper and lots of questions

1723 Views 8 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  Breakfast with the Bees
I live in northern Michigan and the weather here has been terrible. Freezing nights and it's only getting up to forties and fifties. I hived three 3-lb packages - two Langstroth hives and one top bar on April 24. This past Sunday morning I opened up one of the Langstroth hives after a bad two days of rain and wind and very cold weather - they were dead. I did think that the bees were acting weird a couple days before that during sixty degree weather - crawling around slow outside the hive. I did all the checks - after four days from installing, I removed the empty queen cages and left them alone for another week, making sure every couple days they had sugar water. Some days they drank a lot, other days they were all foraging and bringing it back inside the hive. When I checked the frames for the first time, after another week, I found a lot of drawn out comb but nothing else, nothing capped, just some pollen in some of the comb. So here I am into almost the fourth week and the weather is still horrid. I am not sure on the queens in my other two hives. I looked for her in both hives but honestly, I am not experienced enough to find her. They are in a cluster in both of the hives. I can see that the comb is being drawn beautifully but have not pulled up the frames again yet. I guess I am worried about the wind and rain, it is horrible again for the next few days. Do I pull up the frames, or will the queen even be laying eggs yet? When I look in from the other end of the top bar I can see three or four drawn out combs but nothing on them. I really am trying to be a good beekeeper but feel I am in way over my head! How do I know if the queen is doing well, and feel like it was my fault those bees died in that one hive? I did call my local beekeeper who told me to switch from a top feeder to a mason jar directly over the frames so I am doing that during the boughts of bad storms.
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I only opened the brood boxes on the Langstroth hives twice after installing and both days were warm and they were out foraging. Otherwise I just checked the top feeder.

The hive that did die - the bees had their heads stuck inside empty comb. They starved to death, but it also didn't look like a lot of bees. A clump dead on the screen bottom board.

The weather has got me worried like a new mom! I did not see eggs last week when I looked at the frames but I have not checked again since the weather has remained cool and rainy.

Losing the one hive has me losing confidence. Now I am scared the other two are going to starve too.
 
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