Hi all - I'm a new Warre beekeeper. I hived this swarm on May 24th, they immediately built out lots of comb, but after that, they've not built anymore, and while it's been almost 6 weeks, the number of bees doesn't seem to be increasing - it appears that the number since the swarm was hived is now smaller. Also, there's been a number of events where a large number of bees are seen flying around an area around the hive. I've looked at robbing videos on youtube, and these show thousands of bees at the hives, which is definitely not my situation. If robbing is occurring, it's on a relatively small scale, and by bees, not wasps. These events appear frenzied however, and I would have thought this to be too early for the newly hatched bees to be flying orientation flights, as the oldest newly hatched bees will only be a week or two old. I did two inspections early on, but have since tried to follow the Warre method of not opening up the hives. I was rewarded for this decision by catching a glimpse of the queen laying through the observation window!
This morning, I found 5 dead or dying young bees at the entrance. Could this be because the hive is starved, and they can't feed them? They looked otherwise healthy - they didn't have deformed wings. I found a few in the days before, but only one or two and only once or twice.
I did try to put a diverter in front of the entrance for a day or so, but it was constructed from screen with large holes (all I had) so I doubled and then tripled up the screen, but it looked like bees were still able to pass through, and some were getting stuck, so I took it off. I also wasn't 100% confident that I had a robbing situation, and it was obviously slowing down my hives bees (still returning with lots of pollen in the morning especially). I also took the Michael Bush advice of closing the entrance in the late evening, and checking for activity in the morning - there were definitely a few bees that showed up at the entrance in the morning, but only 2 or 3 in the 30 minute window I could observe before I had to go to work and open the hive back up. I'm in a suburb of San Francisco with lots of irrigated gardens, so I don't think there is a lack of nectar. The foragers seem very busy every day, coming and going.
Any help is greatly appreciated! Here's my timeline, if it helps:
May 24: Caught and hived a ~3lb swarm in two boxes
May 27: First suspicious event of lots of bees flying around for a short period
June 1: Inspected hive - good amount of comb built in one box - combined boxes on advice of local beekeeper. Observed eggs in some cells
June 6: Inspected hive again - observed lots of pollen, capped brood, big larva
~June 14th? Added second box back underneath - top box is ~75% built with comb - observed queen laying through window! Can see capped brood through window
June 28th: Second suspicious event - lots of bees flying around the hive in a 15' x 15' x 15' area around the hive. No obvious fighting at entrance. Subsides on its own within 20 minutes or so
June 29th: Third suspicious event - same as above - I try to reduce entrance and put a screened diverter in front of entrance.
June 30th: I block entrance overnight - check in morning - small amount of activity (2-3 bees in ~20-30 minute period) at the entrance
July 1st: 4th suspicious event - similar to above
July 3rd: Some young bees dead at entrance - look otherwise healthy
And, some photos from the two early inspections and initial hiving: