What would you do with them?

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The Poot

Queen Bee
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Joined
Feb 15, 2015
Messages
3,318
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Location
Dorset
Hive Type
National
Number of Hives
Five
I collected a very small swarm on Saturday, which I was told were the survivors of a colony which suffered wasp attack while in an unused brick chimney.
There were around 500 or so bees I reckon, which dutifully went into my nuc and were settled in at home. Sunday they were coming out and crawling up the front of the box, flying about, as if orienting, then going back in - repeatedly.
Today the same pattern occurred, then most of them absconded and are clustered just above ground level in a small shrub.
So, I shook the rest out of the nuc and checked the frames for eggs and I found a small patch. Single eggs in the bottom of the cells, so a queen is with them.
Then it thundered and rained hard for a time. It has been very warm and humid.
I don’t want to combine them with another colony, having finished varroa treatment and I don’t know the state of health of these bees.
Under pressure from SWMBO (“poor little things”) I have placed the nuc beside the cluster to give them the opportunity to shelter overnight. But what would you do with them please?
 
I collected a very small swarm on Saturday, which I was told were the survivors of a colony which suffered wasp attack while in an unused brick chimney.
There were around 500 or so bees I reckon, which dutifully went into my nuc and were settled in at home. Sunday they were coming out and crawling up the front of the box, flying about, as if orienting, then going back in - repeatedly.
Today the same pattern occurred, then most of them absconded and are clustered just above ground level in a small shrub.
So, I shook the rest out of the nuc and checked the frames for eggs and I found a small patch. Single eggs in the bottom of the cells, so a queen is with them.
Then it thundered and rained hard for a time. It has been very warm and humid.
I don’t want to combine them with another colony, having finished varroa treatment and I don’t know the state of health of these bees.
Under pressure from SWMBO (“poor little things”) I have placed the nuc beside the cluster to give them the opportunity to shelter overnight. But what would you do with them please?
If there was eggs on a frame I'm surprised they left that behind .. where is the queen ? If she's with the cluster outside then find her and put her back in the box and set the nuc entrance to queen excluder and feed them ... if you can shake the rest of the bees back in so much the better, Dummy the nuc down is there are only 500 bees to three frames and add frames as they fill them with stores. Although, with that small a colony (barely a cupful). I'm not hopeful.
 
If there was eggs on a frame I'm surprised they left that behind .. where is the queen ? If she's with the cluster outside then find her and put her back in the box and set the nuc entrance to queen excluder and feed them ... if you can shake the rest of the bees back in so much the better, Dummy the nuc down is there are only 500 bees to three frames and add frames as they fill them with stores. Although, with that small a colony (barely a cupful). I'm not hopeful.
I’m assuming the queen is in the small cluster, as I went through the box to check for her as they were settling in the shrub.
There are eggs laid in about 18 cells only. The bees left in the box after the main lot had gone away, were extremely agitated.
I‘ll try to follow your advice tomorrow, thanks Philip. I really don’t think they have much of a chance, but I feel obliged to try for them.
 
Be careful that they're not planning to unite themselves to another colony, I've seen these small lots do just that several times over the years (despite the fact that it so say doesn't happen with European honey bees). B+ started a thread on here about this behaviour a couple of years ago. Yes, they'll abandon eggs, open & sealed brood when they get into that mode.
 
Be careful that they're not planning to unite themselves to another colony, I've seen these small lots do just that several times over the years (despite the fact that it so say doesn't happen with European honey bees). B+ started a thread on here about this behaviour a couple of years ago. Yes, they'll abandon eggs, open & sealed brood when they get into that mode.
My colonies are all very strong and very calm - excellent temperaments, (thanks Rolande😀) so I don’t want this little bunch to upset things, so tomorrow I’ll try to house them. If they don’t settle and choose another shrub, (effectively their third) it might be best that I call it a day.
 
If there was eggs on a frame I'm surprised they left that behind .. where is the queen ? If she's with the cluster outside then find her and put her back in the box and set the nuc entrance to queen excluder and feed them ... if you can shake the rest of the bees back in so much the better, Dummy the nuc down is there are only 500 bees to three frames and add frames as they fill them with stores. Although, with that small a colony (barely a cupful). I'm not hopeful.
Well, queenie and all bees, bar a small number foraging, are suitably housed again, with sugar syrup. The nuc dial is set to queen excluder.
Three drawn combs and three dummy boards. I‘ve prepared a place to move them to tonight, so now it’s up to them. No doubt there will be a few lost bees tomorrow that will return to the shrub, so I’ll look out for them and give them the new postcode.
IF (and it’s a big IF) the queen lays in earnest and I can provide lots of syrup, pollen patties, encouragement and keep them sheltered from the cold, they might just pull through I hope. But it’s a big IF.
 
Well, queenie and all bees, bar a small number foraging, are suitably housed again, with sugar syrup. The nuc dial is set to queen excluder.
Three drawn combs and three dummy boards. I‘ve prepared a place to move them to tonight, so now it’s up to them. No doubt there will be a few lost bees tomorrow that will return to the shrub, so I’ll look out for them and give them the new postcode.
IF (and it’s a big IF) the queen lays in earnest and I can provide lots of syrup, pollen patties, encouragement and keep them sheltered from the cold, they might just pull through I hope. But it’s a big IF.
It's all you can do with a bit of good luck they might make it ! It's surprising sometimes how small colonies can survive winter if they are in a well insulated box ... the time they seem to fizzle out is early in the spring - it's the lack of ability to build up numbers and look after brood that seems to finish them off.
 

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