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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a 3# package placed in a 1 deep hive the third week in April. They were placed on old drawn comb from my hive that got robbed and killed last year. I've fed syrup and verified she was laying and actually seen the queen twice.

At 3 pm my daughter said, "Mom, your bees are all over the yard." There was a "storm" of bees flying back and forth completely filling a 1/5 acre suburban backyard. By the time I got my veil, the activity had moved back towards the hive in what almost looked like robbing, but no fighting really. Ten minutes later most of the bees were back in the hive, when I noticed a cluster on the front with a queen in the middle.

I nudged her into the 3# screened package box with her small palm-sized group of bees. What do I do with her now? (if she is still in that box, that is) Is she making a mating flight prior to swarming? Is she a supercedure queen? I have another box of equipment I could put her in -- (I lost 2 hives to robbing last year) Any help would be appreciated.


Misty
2nd year beekeeping with one TBH now and one 'regular'
 

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Well Misty, it sounds like they tried to swarm. It wouldn't be a mating flight since she's been laying already. If you hived them a month ago in one deep on drawn comb and have been feeding them steadily, they're long overdue for another deep. They probably filled up the brood nest with syrup. I'll bet, if you check the bottoms of the frames, you'll find swarm cells.

As to why the swarm didn't take off... perhaps your queen has clipped wings or is for some other reason unable to fly. That explains why you found her sitting on the front of the hive.

This much I can infer from what you've said. As to what to do.. well nothing like this has happened to me before. I suspect, if I was in your shoes, I'd put the queen and her small following back in the hive, add a second deep, and remove the queen cells you're almost guaranteed to find (you might offer them to other beekeepers if you know of any local). You'll probably find frames of syrup too- I'd move a few of them upstairs and put them on the side walls. I don't think I'd try starting up another hive- the bees are old original package bees and don't have long to live. The eggs the queen laid 3 weeks ago are now house bees and probably stayed behind when the swarm tried to leave. It takes 42 days or so for an egg to become a field bee.

Anyways, that's what I would do. Good luck,

Um... afterthought. Hopefully, any queen cells you find are still capped. Swarms usually leave after the cells are capped and before they emerge, but if the timing is off... If you find any empty queen cells that look like a queen has already emerged, your task becomes more complicated. You'll need to find the virgin queen and remove her... or not. You could just put the old queen back in the hive and let the bees sort it out, which they will. In either case, you'll want to verify in a week or two that the hive is queenright.

George-

[ May 25, 2006, 06:27 PM: Message edited by: George Fergusson ]
 

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This could be the Queen that came with your 3# Package they could have built up and got to crowded for the single Brood so they could have swarmed check inside and look for queen cells to see if they may have swarm cells...the older queen will leave with the First swarm, some other swarms may follow with virgin Queens...I also have seen a swarm come and settle on the front of another hive the bees or most of them go into the have and I WOULD FIND THE QUEEN STILL ON THE FRONT OF THE HIVE WITH A SMALL BALL OF BEES AROUND HER.Also have herd of them swarming hang on a branch then return to the colonie doing this 2-3 times on different days .
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for the ideas. I checked through the hive looking for another queen and swarm cells. I found two empty supercedure cells on different frames that don't look like they've ever been filled or capped - they are the kind I normally see a couple of anyway - up on the frames not hanging off the bottom. There were no swarm cells on the bottom edges and I couldn't find a queen. I saw eggs and larva in all stages, plus a lot of young bees.

Frames -- The bees are on the top half of about four center frames with two being mostly filled with pollen & honey on the bottom and brood at top/center. The outer frames, 2 on one side and 4 on the other are pretty empty - a few bees and a little uncapped honey is all. With this info, I didn't think the box was filled enough to need another box. What do you think? The frames do have some wax worm damage and old capped brood from the dead hive, but I figured the bees would clean it out. Maybe they don't like the hive?

So, then I got the box with the 'found' queen and while handling the box over the open hive I must have dropped her into the hive (I hope) because when I looked at the small ball of bees I couldn't see her. I just put all of them in the hive and shut it up. A little while later the hive is quiet as can be.

Oh, and the queen can fly, because she had flown away after I saw her on the hive the first time, and then come back - that's when I herded her into the package box. I was pretty proud that I could recognize her in flight - she landed on a tree first, and then came back to land on the side of the concrete block my hive is sitting on.

So, I'm wondering if a swarm already left, but the cloud in my backyard never formed anywhere that I could tell before heading back to the hive, bearding all over it and going back in.

Sigh. Just when I thought I understood bees a little . . .

Misty
 

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A 3 pound package will not develope into enough bees to swarm in one month. Sometin' like 21 days before we even see new bees!
Queens less than a year old are unlikely to swarm anyways. I guess that you got a virgin in that package and she was trying to mate today.
How has the weather been since installing the 3 pound package?
 

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Heh. Sigh. I know what you mean Misty. Well so much for my initial diagnosis. The additional information is helpful. I'll have to ponder it for a while.
 

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I'd consider doing a cut down split tommorrow. it is a controlled swarm. Do a search for "cut down split" and you hopefully will get lots of data.
 

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MistyZ check to see if ants are geting into the hive also check to see if they might have a heavy amount of mites.Also A fellow bee keeper called me to check his hive because all the bees and Queen just got up and left the hive. when i got there the bees were about 30 feet in the top of the tree,so i checked the hive he only had a small entrance about 3/4 x 2" the honey was sour or fermented that was in the hive he had the bees in only a single brood box it was about 95 i think it was to hot in the hive so they up and left.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Aargh -- they're doing it again! A cloud of bees circling around above my backyard and slowly moving over to the neighbors.

I have a screened bottom board, so it shouldn't be too hot in the hive. I do have a reduced entrance though. There were some ants up in the box that had the upside down syrup feeding pail, but no ants on the frames that I saw. The only thing I can think is to add another box of frames. Question is, should I split up the few frames of brood by putting an empty between them - when there seem to be so few bees. When I opened the hive Thursday, the bees really only covered the top 1/3 to 1/5 of the inner 4-5 frames where the eggs, larva and brood were. Not a bursting hive by any means.

My TBH, on the other hand started at the same time with my other 3# package and one empty wax comb, and is now drawing their ninth comb, and numbers 1-8 are completely covered in thick numbers of bees.

Maybe I'll be going all TBH next year.

I'm keeping an eye on the swarm hoping that when they land, I can get them back.

They must be abandoning the hive for some reason, but there are eggs, larva, uncapped honey (no fermenting smell). The only problem I can think of is the old capped dead brood from last years hive with the occasional chalkbrood piece that hasn't been cleaned out.

Thanks for your help in trying to figure this out.

Misty
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
The saga continues:

I got the swarm in a new box with all empty undrawn frames except for one center one with the cleanest emptiest wax I could find. In the old abandoned hive, I found a handful of nurse bees, two frames of uncapped honey, two frames with palm sized area of eggs, larva, and capped brood. The brood pattern is pretty patchy. I scratched open a couple to see if I saw anything that looked like foulbrood. None that I could tell. The hive is definitely abandoned, not split by swarming.

So, the question is, do I put the honey/eggs/brood frames from the abandoned hive in the new box with the swarm or just consider it a lost cause in case whatever drove them away has to do with those frames.

I considered putting the abandoned deep on top of the new deep with a queen excluder to keep the queen on the one new frame. But I'm worried that the bees won't draw new wax then.

Basically, I'd like to encourage the bees to draw new wax, since that's the only thing I can think of that is wrong with the hive they left.

I have a screened bottom board on the bottom for ventilation and will button up the hive for a day or two to make sure they settle. I'll put a bucket of syrup on too.

Misty
 

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I was going to suggest that maybe they were absconding. There might be something on the old wax comb that they find unacceptable. Any chance you could've handled the frames and gotten something on them? Letting them draw new wax while you feed them syrup seems like the best idea. You get good, clean, new wax and they get to build home the way they want it.

Mike
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I found beetles!

Bees had started returning to the abandoned hive - maybe workers that missed the swarming memo, or ones from the swarm I knocked into the new box.

I decided to take the 4 frames with honey and brood from the abandoned hive and move them to a nuc -- there are eggs in the cells, so maybe the bees would raise a queen. I just felt bad wasting all that work, but I didn't want to put them into the new box. That's when I found the beetles.

When I moved the abandoned hive, I found beetles everywhere under the screened bottom board! Probably 7-10 running around, and a pocket of webby stuff with skinny littly worms in the nest. The beetles were poppy up through the screen and then back down to the concrete block under the screen.

They have a light brown 2-3mm band across their middle (the rest black) that makes them look different from the SBH pictures I could find on the internet. But if they are a variety of SBH, then that explains the absconding, and why the swarm was so small. The hive has been losing a fight with beetles. There were only about 2 grapefruits worth of bees in the swarm.

I'm afraid they won't make it.

I'm going to do some searching on SBH and what I can put under the screened bottom board to keep them from getting into the new box.

Thanks for the help!!!

Misty
 

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If you're not finding SHB larvae (spiky backed larvae) and the beetles you're seeing have a different colored band on them, I believe these are a kind of debris beetle and not SHB. The debris beetle you describe is quite a bit larger than a SHB. They are brown, and not black, they have the ping pong antenna like the SHB. My guess is the hive failed and they moved in. Their normal habitat is the debris in a bee hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ok, I went to take pictures of the beetles and could only find a dead squashed one.

The beetle is 3/8" long and you can see the brown band across the center with small black spots on the band. It does go all the way across, but on the beetle's left is squash damage done by me. The rest of the beetle is black.

http://home.comcast.net/~1595/Beetle_Zoom.JPG

Here's the larva - also about 3/8 inches long:

http://home.comcast.net/~1595/Beetle_Larva_Zoom.JPG

And here's a picture of the concrete block debris under the screened bottom board:

http://home.comcast.net/~1595/Beetle_Debris.JPG

So, either the ants around the syrup feeder or these unidentified beetles caused my hive to abscond.

The absconded swarm is in a new box but I don't think it will have enough bees to survive. Any way I can steal something from my TBH to help them? Or should I be satisfied with one strong hive? The TBH has 9 fully drawn combs covered on both sides with lots of bees.

I'm just a little bummed to keep losing my Langstroth hives -- last fall I lost my weak hive to robbers - despite buttoning up the hive and then using a robber screen. And two weeks later, my booming strong hive was also robbed and nothing I did seemed to work and that hive too was killed.

I got 2 new packages this year, and once again my Langstroth has troubles and gets wiped out.

LOL - it seems the more I read and learn, the more troubles I have. But - on a great note, I'm enjoying the booming TBH, and if I'm lucky I may get my first taste of $500 honey this year. :) My husband says the honey is much cheaper at the store.

Misty
 

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MistyZ

I would take off the screened bottom or cut a piece of thin board as plywood or something to make it a solid bottom...the debris is attracting the beatles and ants when it falls through the screen and then here come the pest. the colonie is to small to protect it's self it would be worth a try to save it. take a wooden frame. and tie a comb into from your TBH place about 3- ties with rubber bands or some sort of string to hold it up.
 

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That looks like what we call a carrion beetle around here. Not specifically a honey bee pest, they're just attracted to rotting stuff. I've seen them around smelly frames of dead brood and in hive detritus. They clean up dead stuff. If you turn a few day old road kill over, they're abundant.
 

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The "beetle" is identical to one I took to the state entomologist, Dr. Marion Ellis which he assured me was NOT a SHB. It was a debris beetle of some kind. The "larvae" is some kind of centipede or something else, but definitely looks nothing like any pictures I've seen of SHB larvae.

What you have is NOT SHB.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
So why did the bees leave? Ants? Beetles? Or chalk it up to mysterious bee behavior. They know and we don't.

Thanks for letting me know it wasn't SHB -- at least I don't have to worry about them getting into my TBH. I'll check on the baby swarm tomorrow and see if I can't rig up a comb from the TBH.

Thanks,

Misty
 

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>So why did the bees leave?

Bees leave for a number of reasons. Smell. Predators (skunks, mice ants etc.)

Beetles?

No. The beetles you have just take advantage of abandoned comb. I've never seen them drive off a hive.
 
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