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Chris B 

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This beauty greeted me on 22nd October. It wasn't hanging there on the previous visit to the apiary 3 weeks earlier. These pictures are from 27th October. The combs had sealed brood but virtually no stores at all. We'll see how they get on.
 

jezd 

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hey Chris, did you end up just removing the comb/brood or somehow shoehorn it into the hive for them?

Jez
 

Chris B 

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Hi Jez,
I snipped the branches around them and gently lowered them into the empty box more or less intact. I then put a box of food frames above them after moving them to my home apiary.
I'm hopeful they'll get through the winter. But I'm more concerned about the hive they came from, as yet unidentified.
 

admin 

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Do you plan to unite them back to the original hive if you find it?
 

Hombre 

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I would guess not. They are wintered down in the garden now fifty miles or so away from the out apiary. :)

The box was resting on the Land Rover, no muscles required. :)
 

oliver90owner 

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Hi,

How many hives at this out-apiary? One is probably broodless due to a late queen? Are your queens marked?

I would wonder why they swarmed. Were they checked through at the last visit or just a cursory glance? Most swarms initially settle within a relatively few metres of the hive. This one appears to have been unable to find a new home before brood was hatched and has stayed put. Perhaps the weather was not good after they left the hive.

Any reason they may have absconded? Too much thymol treatment, for instance?

Mysterious, yes; but should be able to unravel the mystery source as few swarms would settle from afar, just a few metres from several other hives, I would think.

When the brood started hatching might give a good clue as to when it swarmed out of the hive. Couple of days expecting to move, maybe; a couple days to start building comb and start laying; then rest of brood cycle to state of sealed brood. Inspection of some of the sealed brood may have indicated how long they had been sealed, also.

Hope you solve it. Let us know, either way. One possibility might be a supercedure may may have gone wrong and the bees swarmed instead. Bees will be bees.

Regards, RAB
 

Haughton Honey 

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What fantastic photos. Great to see. As RAB said, do keep us informed as to how they get on.

I had to literally cut out a full colony from an old hive found on a farm last week (the hive was falling to pieces and had been abandoned years ago. The box, or what was left of it, was jam packed full of old, blackened comb.

I've given them a block of fondant laid directly on to the brood frames in the new hive to replace what limited winter stores they'd collected in the original box.

WPC
 

oliver90owner 

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WPC,

Shame the hive was that bad but you have given them a good chance of survival. Just aim to keep them warm and they will do their best to survive. Better than being toasted in a controlled burn-off. Maybe you should get that comb radio-carbon dated!; might be stone age!

On a more serious level - were you able to recover complete frames of stores (and brood?). It is always a bear to sort out natural and wild comb, but it sure is very satisfying, when it all works out OK. Filling any spare space in the new hive will reduce Finman's 'vain space' and help them to keep snug, warm and dry if the main ventilation is at the bottom.

One year, with a weak colony, I found that covering the boxes in a not-so-good WBC with lots of layers of old towels over the fondant block was a good idea. I saw and could feel the towelling had sagged when the block was nearly all gone, so knew they were still alive in there without having to check too deeply.... Indeed the block was nearly used up - they had seemed to prefer the fondant to the other stores in the frames, which was probably a bit distant for a small cluster to find.

I would prefer to lay the block on a cover board (with feed holes) so it does not steadily run down between the frames, or at least on a plastic sheet for the same reason. Maybe you have thought about this already.

Regards, RAB
 

Haughton Honey 

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Hi RAB,

I managed to get three full frames of brood/stores out and most of the nurse bees and a good deal of foragers (yes, they were still flying on the last day of our recent Indian summer). Apart from that, very little else was usable. The remaining brood frames were literally in one large block but didn't appear to have much in them, which was lucky.

I've put the fondant on top of a QX to give it some support, and funnily enough stuffed the remainder of the void with old teatowels, a little like yourself!

It's in the lap of the Gods now, but I'll keep an eye on the fondant throughout winter.

The old hive has been burnt and the colony are now 'in isolation' until they can be assessed.

WPC
 

VEG 

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Good job chris b. They have done a good job to survive outside like that in all weathers. Keep us updated on their progress. :cheers2:
 

Chris B 

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Hi,

How many hives at this out-apiary?
There are 14. I'm not taking frames out now and they all seem happy enough but one might be queenless. Either way I'm just resigned to the fact I'll just have to let them get on with it. I would need to find a virgin queen and remove her before attempting a unite, otherwise I'd just be making things worse. And I've had a number of queenright broodless colonies this autumn so it might not even be clear which colony to search through.

It's not an abscondment otherwise all the bees would have left a hive empty. Mating swarm from a supersedure is a remote possibility but I suspect not. A straightforward swarm is the most likely explanation - a lot of my bees think it's spring. I can't remember the early October weather but there was a good ivy flow. I certainly won't be breeding from these bees!
 

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