Thursday, May 21, 2009


From the first day I had hived them, I noticed that on the front of the hive body, a good size ball of bees would clump up there, moving around and looking either busy or agitated (I couldn't tell which). I figured they were just trying to climb through a gap under the lid to get to the sugar water faster, without having to crawl through the inside of the hive. So I refilled their sugar water as soon as they emptied it, to keep them happy and busy, in the hope that they'd stay and make some honey.

Things seemed to be going pretty good. At dusk on the third day after capturing them, I went out to fill up their sugar jar again. I took the lid off and got the sugar jar out, but there were surprisingly few bees in there. Also, it seemed incredibly quiet in the hive, so I took the inner cover off to see what was going on. I didn't have any protective gear on, but I knew it was ok; I knew the bees had left even before I removed the inner cover and saw all the bare frames with their white plastic foundation. There were maybe two bees in there, but I think they were wild ones from our property, looking for more sugar water. 

Absconded is what you call it when an entire colony takes off like that. After talking with some people on the internet again, I found out it's not an uncommon thing for newly hived swarms to do. Some said I probably hadn't gotten the queen after all, others said maybe I had gotten her but she decided she didn't like it there and so the bees went with her. Perhaps they were mad that I'd broken their comb... Later I found out that the bees clustering up on the front of the hive is called a 'bee beard' and they do it when they're hot or crowded. So maybe I needed to add another brood box or super to give them more room? Well, they didn't like it there for one reason or another, so they've gone. Good luck to them. I'm not all that disappointed, because I've got my packaged bees all hived up and they're working hard bringing in pollen and draining that sugar jar. You'll hear about all that in the next few posts.

Photo: A souvenir of the swarm bees' time here, which I've got stored away in the freezer.

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