August 18, 2016/From the Hive

When we began their relocation process, earlier this Spring, the Crew was on the verge of swarming. It was immediately noticeable based upon the volume of bees. Also, we encountered numerous capped queen cells as we began removing the combs from the stucco pillar.

The homeowners estimated that the colony had been living in the pillar for several years, and the homeowners were having a difficult time finding a qualified person to relocate the colony. Once we were on the scene, it took us two days (2-3 hours a day) to complete.

We spent the first day locating the hive and taking the layers of stucco, chicken wire, black tar paper and plywood off.

On the second day, we began to physically cut out and remove the honey comb and bees. This was somewhat challenging because we had to work from a ladder on sloped ground. Once it was all complete, this colony fit into two deep Langstroth hive bodies, which is twenty frames of comb and bees. 

During the following weeks, after removing this colony, I began to notice some peculiar things. At one point there was a small cluster (tennis ball size) on the fence next to the relocated colony. We captured the cluster and identified a queen in it. So, I placed them into a failing nucleus colony.

Looking back, this should have been my first clue to go into the hive bodies and check to see what was going on inside. Maybe, I should have placed this cluster back into this Crew’s hive bodies. Because, over time, the Star Ranch Road Crew dwindled and eventually began to get robbed.

It is also possible that as the queen cells hatched, the colony eventually swarmed itself to depletion. If that were the case, I would have thought that we would have seen at least one of the swarms, or caught one in a swarm trap.

Unfortunately, there may have been other unknown factors that led to their demise. I typically do not go into hives, that we relocate, until a couple of weeks later. That was obviously too long for an inspection of The Star Ranch Road Crew. In the end, they somehow became queen-less and began to get robbed by the surrounding colonies. Even though these ladies did not make the relocation process, our percentage of successful long term relocations of colonies, is about 90.

 

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