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Caught a swarm and all bees dead 3 days later


I caught a swarm on Sunday (from my hive), and transferred them into a new nuc box. The box is brand new. I left them in the shade for a few hours, and noticed lots of ants on them when I came back.

I changed the disk to the queen excluder option, and then transferred the bees to a small farm about 25 minutes away. After 3 days, I noticed no activity in the hive so i opened it up, and they were all dead.

Quite devastated, and want to know what went wrong. Any ideas?

Here are a few pics of the before and after: http://imgur.com/a/zw7P6

Couple of things:

  • The disk was set to queen excluder
  • There is also another hole at the other side for ventilation (same size as the one in the pic with a grate to stop the bees getting out.
  • There was no wax at all on any of the frames
  • The box has no paint or anything else on it, it is brand new
  • On the farm, they were in full sun (although I placed a a bit of corrugated iron above the hive to keep it a bit cooler)


Could the bees actually get out? It sounds like you cooked them or they starved, but looking at the photos looks like overheating.

They wouldn’t have built comb because they wouldn’t have been able to get out and collect nectar.


Agree with RBK, they may have been heat stressed and the other option is poisoning but you would have noticed them behaving oddly before moving them away.


The entry hole was set to the “Queen Excluder” setting and I did see them going in and out initially - they could have however blocked the hole on the inside as there were lots of drones, and lots of bees in the nuc box.


Bees will also not always pass through an excluder, and I don’t believe configuring the nuc like this was necessary and I’d advise against it in future. I rarely have swarms abscond immediately after collection/rehoming.

The drones may have blocked the entrance or the workers may not have seen passing out through the provided gap as viable option.


Next time, hive the swarm, close them in during transport, open them up fully (no QE) immediately, and hope for the best. Since you already have bees, a frame of brood will hold them in their new home. A frame of honey works well too.


Does it matter if the frame of brood or honey comes form the original hive that the bees came from?


Nope, it’ll be just fine.