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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello... a noobie here.

I received my first two packages of Carniolans on April 27. The weather had taken a turn for the worst. It was cold and rainy. I got my two colonies into their respective Top-Bar-Hives two days after pick-up. There was no foraging due to the cold conditions. The bees didn't even leave their cluster to feed from their feeder. I was a tad concerned about the colonies starving. In one the bees were starting to drop. Finally after two more days of wet and cold it finally warmed enough for the bees to forage. Both colonies were active, but more so in the colony where the bees had begun to die.

After three days the colony that had me the most concerned had produced three combs which I later found contained honey. The "healthier" hive wasn't matching the productivity of the other.

The next day, after checking on both active hives, I ran some errands. When I came home 2.5 hours later I was surprised to see a swarm of bees buzzing around the bushes in front of our front door. So many in fact that we were unable to use the door. I ran to check the hives in back only to find that the colony that had initially lost the most bees had absconded. My hope was they would cluster by nightfall and I could return them to their hive. We took our son to his soccer practice and returned 75 minutes later... only to find that the bees had flown the coup.

I checked the empty hive and was quite impressed with what the bees had produced in just three days... AND there was honey too! IMAG3840.jpg

Please see photos at: http://gdnghtjohnboy.smugmug.com/Missing-Bees/i-Cqb4Lqr

Now here's my problem. After just under one month my remaining hive is active, but doesn't look like it has produced as much as my absconded hive produced in just three days. Is it normal to have hives with such completely different personalities/habits? The hive that absconded did seem more active and might I say aggressive.

Should I be concerned with my remaining "slow" colony?

All thoughts are appreciated.
 

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Bees will sometimes abscond for no apparent reason other than just bad luck.
Sounds like you had some nectar in the early hive, not honey.
The nectar must be cured before it can be considered honey, to where water content is below around 11% (if my aging memory is correct). Once it is cured, the bees will cap it. That takes some time.
its perfectly normal for different hives to have different personalities.
That's why beekeeping is an inexact science.
Give the slow colony some time.
Many times it is self-correcting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the reply... A couple more questions,

Is it okay to put the abandoned comb into my remaining hive? Waste not want not?

Is it too late to put out swarm traps?
 

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>Is it okay to put the abandoned comb into my remaining hive? Waste not want not?

It is recommended.

>Is it too late to put out swarm traps?

For the hive that already swarmed? If the cluster is gone, then yep.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
No... I mean in hopes of capturing another swarming body. In general, is there a time, after which, it becomes fruitless to attempt to capture a swarm? Is there a "swarming season" in the Midwest?
 

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for swarming get the traps out. you are going into prime time now. use a little [few drops] of lemongrass oil or lure in the traps. by now you should have had brood in both hives. the "slower" hive does not have as much honey stores started because they are raising young, this is good at this stage. if no brood in the absconded hive this was the problem, bad or no queen. once you have brood the bees stay put. with no or undrawn comb this will take a couple of weeks, a bit less with drawn comb. a swarm is about the same as a package, really a package is a man made swarm in a cage. since packages or swarms have value I put a queen/drone excluder on new colonies for a couple of weeks to force the queen to stay in the hive until there is brood, no absconding. these are available from suppliers in the under $10 range, a good deal given package prices. actualy absconding after a couple of days is not rare, manage around it, or next time find a nuc. best wishes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the input, All.

I put 4 drops of lemon oil in my traps. I swear, 2 days later, I can't smell the lemon essence... even with my nose right up to the wood. Should I douse it or will the bees be able to pick up on these light nuances? Otherwise I have two traps ready to be hung.

I'll get on that excluder... Thanks!
 

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johnboy....Sorry about the abscond. A few thoughts from experience...sometimes the "busy" hive is actually the hive in trouble, because they don't have order. They LOOK busy...but it can sometimes be chaos. Perhaps they went queenless shortly after the install.

Lemon grass oil....a FEW drops! As others have said, they smell it for months. What we can not smell, the bees can! (Think olfactory senses of a dog times 1000!)

Remeber, with swarms, they are looking for "space". Don't put out hives full of foundation. But do NOT put out hives without frames! Frames with guide strips have been ideal for me. Nothing for wax moths to get, but the bees have a guide.

I am not a fan of the old "Keep the queen in the hive with an excluder" trick. I did it many times, and if the bees choose to leave, you will find the trampled queen on the excluder. I refuse to use that technique any more. Just my experience. If the bees choose to stay, they'll stay. If they don't want the "condo" I offer them, then good luck!

Absolutely use that comb in your other hive, the sooner the better before the wax moths get to it!
 
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