Despite our best efforts, the “swarm” we collected last month, didn’t make it. We had planned to immediately give these bees a frame of brood and eggs in the hopes of their raising a queen, but the weather turned cold the morning after we brought them home. We were in a quandary: should we expose the brood in our existing hives to cold in order to find a suitable frame? We didn’t.
When the weather finally turned favorable, we immediately opened up our strongest hive to find a frame with some young eggs, brood, and any clinging nurse bees which we immediately placed in the box along with a frame of food. The bees seemed to perk up and began foraging in earnest. We hoped for the best and checked on their flight patterns every day.
We wanted them to settle in, and decided not to open up the box for two weeks. A couple days of cold and one day of rain passed through during that time. We worried, but crossed our fingers. We hoped there were enough bees to keep the brood warm. Unfortunately, we noticed the dwindling number of foragers at the entrance to this hive as the days passed.
Yesterday, I went into the hive and found no bees. It was eerie. I checked the frames. Luckily, many of the baby bees completed their birth cycle, but there were also many that died while emerging. The frame of food we had provided was empty. Had it been eaten mostly by the ants? Since I didn’t find many dead bees in the nuc box or outside the hive entrance, what happened to them? Did they hopefully drift into the other hives?
Of course, we had to ask ourselves the inevitable question: what had we done wrong? Why didn’t it work? Should we have given them a frame of brood IMMEDIATELY? Should we have done something to help keep them warm? We had done everything we knew, and it still didn’t work. We had tried, at least, and that’s all I can say we did right, but I must admit that it’s still a bummer to find this hive gone.
What have you learned from the swarms you have collected this season? I would love to read about it. Share your stories in the comments section below.