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Lost my first bee hive in four days :(

 
Ross Baxter
Posts: 1
Location: Austin, TX
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So I finally took the plunge and got all set up for bees. I got a warre hive with two main boxes, a quilt box and a roof. I got it all built and got the top bars set to appropriate bee space (3/8 inch between). I set their hive up on cinder blocks in a location near the house under a shady tree with a sun sail overhead for additional shade. I got 20-30 new native perennial flowing plants put in all over the yard to give them some edibles. I also made sure they had a dedicated bird bath water source with a piece of rock in the middle for them to land on. I put a feeder in the top of my warre hive under the roof with a small whole cut in the quilt for access to the feeder. My feed was 8lbs organic sugar to 1 gallon of water (recommended by my bee source). Bee day came, and I got the box installed with only two minor stings, it was otherwise uneventful. I took out the cork in the queen cage and stapled her cage to one of the top bars leaving her hanging down into the body of the bottom box. All the bees appeared to be clumped up around her or around the feeder. I tried to leave them be for the first two days, and when I checked the feeder on the 3rd, it was almost empty. I refilled the feeder, opened one of the viewing windows to peek in on the bees, and they were still clumped in the same two areas. On the fourth day I peeked out on them and everything looked the same, a few bees were cruising around in the morning before work. This afternoon I got home and saw hardly any bees. When I opened the window to check on them again this evening, they were gone. The queen cage had been opened by the bees and I guess once they got her free they all decided to take off. There was a bit of what looked like wax on the top of the frames, but no clear attempt to build comb that I could see. As of this evening there are just a few stragglers in the hive. I looked around the yard for the possible swarm, but had no luck. I'll look again tomorrow when it is light, but don't have my hopes up.

Long story short... any tips for next time?? My box was brand new untreated red cedar, and I've since read that I probably should have put some lemon essential oil or some other scent in the box to entice the bees to stay. I used just top bars, no foundation or anything, perhaps I should have? Did I just make an amateur mistake and open the window too much? Should I have blocked the entrance/locked them in for the first week or so? I'm quite bummed and really at a loss, I thought things were going good, and then boom, they bailed on me.
 
Morgan Morrigan
Posts: 1400
Location: Verde Valley, AZ.
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Wow, sounds like a perfect set up.

I would have thought in a reg hive, i would have added a screen, but they should have been happy with your setup.
Guess you didn't need the extra sunshade yet.

Bet you get re-colonized in a couple weeks !!!
 
tel jetson
steward
Posts: 3356
Location: woodland, washington
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I don't know that you did anything wrong. I've put swarms into boxes of cedar I made the same day with no trouble. I've also put swarms into well-used hives that absconded the next day. that's just the nature of keeping bees: there's never any guarantee they'll do what you want or expect.

to prevent absconding, you can use a queen excluder to keep the queen from leaving rather than to keep her confined to a brood chamber. you can build your own, or buy one. put it on top of the bottom board and under the lowermost hive box. when foragers start bringing in pollen, you'll know the queen is laying and the risk of absconding has passed.

this probably wouldn't work if you're hiving a cast swarm, because the queen will be a virgin and unable to lay eggs without going on a mating flight. that mating flight would be prevented by the queen excluder. drones will also be stuck inside the hive.
 
Matt Fearnow
Posts: 6
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Ross, I'm not sure why either. I'd suggest maybe posting this message over on http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/warrebeekeeping/ There are a lot of warre experts on that list that will probably be able to give you advice.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://richsoil.com/cards
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