odd behavior after package installed

mrtulinMay 25, 2011

This is my 4th year with bees, so I've installed several packages before. I installed two yesterday, and am worried about one.

Here's the sequence and what I am observing:

queen 'box' removed and installed correctly and uneventfully.

The bees were very difficult to 'pour'/shake into the open hive body. They just didn't want to head out the hole.

I think 1/4 to 1/3 bees were still in the box when I decided to stop trying to get them out. They were sounding angry.

I propped box up with opening facing the hive opening at bottom.

I swear to you, those bees were actually crawling back into the package. They were covering the front of the hive body and crawling back into the wood package box!

I left them for the evening and the early this afternoon was my first chance to look at them again. There were many bees still in the package...and some burr comb was actually drawn inside it.

I considered some options, and went inside to do a little research. When I came back out an hour later, many of the bees were gone from the package. I carefully removed the screen from one side and the rest immediately flew out. I removed the box from the vicinity.

What's the problem? In the ensuing hours I saw no activity around the entrance. There were not hundreds of bees flying in and out. There were very few around the top feeder. (I checked and the holes in the feeder top were free flowing)

Compare to other hive (the control group) : bees just "poured" into hive body, only 20 or left, and the package was completely empty within a half hour. Control group bees were going in and out entrance non stop, and there were too many to count around the top feeder. Bees in the this hive were also visible in the center frame.

I'm leaving that worrisome hive alone, expecting the bees know what to do. But I really am worried because this colony has behaved differently from any of other six I have installed in my brief life as a beekeeper.

Can you think of any thing I may have done wrong? (BTW, the queen was certainly alive when I put her in)Or might there be something wrong with the bees? Do you have any recommendations? If I open the hive to investigate what should I look for? Any particular 'signs' that might indicate if there is a problem.

I hope I'm worrying over nothing, but I welcome your thoughts! Or reassurances.


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The bees are gone. The hive was empty. The queen and her handmaidens are still alive, not having chewed their way through the sugar plug. The only thing I can think of is mice. Meaning, I did not clean up the bottom board until just before the bees came. I scrubbed but it didn't really have a lot of time to air out. I didn't use bleach because of the smell. So, maybe mouse smell? Damn, that was a beautiful package. Wonder where it is???

Going to pick up some foundations and ask my supplier thinks.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 6:42PM
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Konrad___far_north(3..just outside of Edmonton)

OK...you did install a package..sorry for the loss! It's hard to say
what made them to leave without the queen, I would think they
would stick with the queen at all time...this makes me to think the stink inside the hive. Bleach smell is not a problem...bees actually love going to swimming pools with bleach smell to get water.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 12:54AM
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They were in my second hive next to mouse polluted one. We just split the second hive, and Nancy took a split home and will introduce them to a new queen and bring them in a week. We could have left them here, but didn't want to take the chance of them going back to the queen in the other hive.

Not an ideal way to begin the season, but at least they were around.

Thanks for writing back.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2011 at 1:03PM
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What's mouse polluted?

    Bookmark   May 29, 2011 at 9:25PM
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mice got in, nested, ate the foundations they could reach, peed etc all winter and left it looking and smelling intensely foul. Bees hate mouse smell. In my case, it drove them out and into the adjacent hive where an attractive queen was letting her pherimones (sp) into the air. Fortunately, they didn't fly away, but went next door. We 'split' what was a now a double colony in one hive, and started the renegades with a new queeen.

Don't ask me, really; at that point Iwas just following directions!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 12:33PM
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