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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello All,

I read here more than I post, but I have a problem I can't find an answer for, so I guess it is time for me to type a little.

A week ago yesterday I installed two packages of bees, my first ever, into hives in my back yard. Hives are about 10-13 feet apart, with entrances facing in different directions. One is north one is east. Both hives get roughly the same amount of sun at the same time and seemed, from outside to be doing about the same things at the same time.

I'm feeding the north facing hive sugar water 1:1, via a Miller feeder. I'm feeding the East facing hive dry, bakers' sugar and pollen. (Not pollen substitute.) I wanted to see what the differences might be. Also, the north facing hive got full sheets of wax, wired foundation. The east facing hive got starter strips in the top bar.

On Monday my husband thought he saw some robbing going on and was going to plug the entrance to the hive that seemed to be the victim (north facing hive) in the evening. When he went out, he said little sentries were lined up everywhere and ready, so he left well enough alone. There have been no more instances of that. Last Wed, we began seeing pollen going into both hives. Hooray!

Today, we opened them. The north facing hive seemed to have a great deal more bees than expected. They were doing well. There was good comb on every frame in the box (8 frame box), some pollen stores and some open honey cells. I did not see the queen or eggs but the box was so full and it was only a week since they were put in until I didn't want to move every single frame. I inspected about half. They seemed happy, organized and working, so I didn't worry too much about the queen. I added a second box, and pulled two of the more center frames from the current box to put in it, replacing them with empty frames from the second box. (Hope that makes sense.)

The east facing box has some beautiful comb on it, but only on about three frames, and only in about 1/4 or so of the space. It is very neat, straight comb, so I'm happy with that. What it was missing was bees!!! I suspect half or more of this package have moved in with the northern bees. Now, the queen was present and busy, the bees had pollen and open honey cells, but there were just so few of them. Also, from the beginning there have been some that have been clustering on the back of the (screened) bottom board. When I opened it up it was easy to see they were building comb there. Not burr comb - pretty, white, straight, neat regular comb. Silly bees!

So here is my concern. A- That east facing hive has so few bees and only a little comb. Can they lay enough eggs to keep going? Do I change what I'm feeding? Add a more full frame from the other box? Do I just leave them to it?

And, B - What is with them building on the bottom board? I don't care except there are so few of them that I'd rather they be building inside. I scraped the comb off that was being built on the bottom of the bottom board. I also plugged the space at the back of the board with grass, since they seemed to be using that like an entrance. Obviously they can just fly under the hive (it is up on blocks) and get right back to where they were. What can I do to deter this? Should I try to deter it?

Very interested in whatever thoughts you all have to offer. Sorry it was so long but wanted you to have all the details.

Thanks for your help!!!
 

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If you were forced to install the packages during less than ideal weather, cold wet or windy or all the above, the bees will sometimes become confused and fly to other hives being installed. Or decide to cluster underneath the hive on the screen board and set up shop.
I would remove the bees on the SBB and shake them into the hive, the fact that you seen the queen and you mentioned they seem harmonious would indicate they feel queen rite and things are as they should bee.
Give them more time and do a detailed inspection in a week to evaluate them. But to me it sounds like things are ok, some packages will build faster than others. There are many reasons, better queen or when they shook the bees into the box one got more younger bees than the other. And the younger bees are the wax builders.
One other suggestion, face the entrances south or east, this will stimulate earlier foraging. I have noticed most feral hives in trees or building will have entrances facing these directions. The bees know what they like. With 10 feet between hives drifting will not be an issue.
 

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I"m guessing it might have something to do with the difference in feed. Dry sugar is an emergency feed. During a nectar flow they will haul it out as trash. Nice yummy sugar water is a nectar source they can utilize to build comb.

so of course the bees with sugar water will build up faster.

Now the bees with dry sugar in the hive are jealous and looking for the easiest source of food in the area. They went to the other hive with full intention of robbing it out. upon entering decided to make it home, heck it had a delivery service of free nectar.

Therefore part of the bees left. depending on the remaining amount of bees in the dry sugar hive, I would most likely just add a sugar water feeder to them too. Or keep up as is and experiment more.

You are playing with a lot of variables at once sounds like to me you won't know which one of the bunch worked best due to other factors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
You are playing with a lot of variables at once sounds like to me you won't know which one of the bunch worked best due to other factors.
Agreed - sort of. The experiment, and that is what it is, was to set two hives in roughly the very same place but give them very different environments and see how they did. Guess I got an answer, eh?:D

Actually, your comments make a lot of sense. I've been thinking about changing the way they are fed. We'll see...

Thanks to you both.
 
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