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Swarm Left Behind Very Few Bees

1016 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Akademee
After a short trip away, I came back to find that my hive had swarmed. Actually, it looked completely empty with nothing coming or going on a hot sunny day. My husband and I stared to dismantle what we assumed was an empty hive (there was an ant nest under the bottom box, which we thought might have driven them to leave.) There were a handful of bees around, which I thought might be brood that had hatched after being left behind or maybe some foragers that were out and missed the swarm. Then we found a queen. We cleaned out the ants and put the hive back together. There is plenty of pollen, nectar and honey, but there wasn't any brood yet. Prior to the swarm, it was a really big hive (we tried to split it unsuccessfully, but that's a story for another thread.)

Anyway, is there anything I can do to help them build up enough bees to overwinter and defend the colony from invaders? Is it worth buying a box of bees or do people sell brood? Unfortunately, this was my last hive, so I don't have another to use. Is there any chance for this colony? Thank you for any advice!
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Adding a frame of nurse bees & capped brood would be nice if you find someone to donate.....
However, without that....if the queen is laying, there will be brood soon. To give them the best chance to survive the winter, make sure they have enough stores & warmth to keep raising brood as long as possible. Also close down the entrance to protect from robbing & drafts. Good luck.
Is there any chance for this colony? Thank you for any advice!
Sounds like your colony swarmed itself down to nothing.
A different subject there.

Good news - you should be having a young queen in there (if she mates OK).
Bad news - everything else.
If you want to buy bees - just buy a fully functional nuc/hive and run those independently (and, hopefully, can rob those of some bees/brood to prop up your swarm remnant).

Otherwise, reduce this swarm remnant to a single box; insulate; reduce the entrance to 1 or 2 bees; make sure they have all supplies; feed to be sure they have stores for the winter; cross your fingers.
With a young queen and reduced, insulated quarters, they may be able to build up for the winter.

Reduced quarters are important because you have only a handful of bees - they can not maintain proper micro-climate in a big hive, important to raise a lot of brood (your only hope).

In May I caught a small swarm with maybe 3-4 cups of bees.
Now (2 month later) - they are a booming hive on 6-7 frames and full of self-provisioned stores and I stole bees from them for other projects.
So you should be able to achieve the same over August and September.
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When was the last time you checked on the hive prior to your discovery, it might have after-swarmed itself down to nothing if you haven't checked on it in a while.
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