On the weekend my friend Joel and I did another cutout, however, for the second time in a row now, the colony absconded 1-2 days after the cut out. I’d love to summarise our process and get some feedback from experienced cut-out beeks to understand what may be the cause for absconding, but all comments and questions are appreciated and welcome.
- The colony was in a roof of a local retreat. It was a new colony, the swarm moved in about 5-6 weeks earlier
- Joel and I used a padded vacuum (with normal gentle suction) to capture the bees before relocating them to their new hive
- the colony and comb size was about an 8 frame brood box, if not a bit under
- there was a small amount of nectar/honey, plenty of pollen, a high amount of brood, larvae and eggs.
- we were able to cut the comb in beautiful nice chunks, coincidentally most of them were the length of a frame, and didn’t compromise any brood. It filled the 8 frame brood box nicely.
- we found the queen, caged her, and released her into the brood box once we emptied the bucket of bees into it
- we relocated the colony at night when all the bees were inside
Fortunately, Joel put a queen excluder between the brood box and base so if they did abscond, they would likely return. We cut out the colony on Saturday and they tried to abscond today (2 days later) but have since returned as they were likely queenless.
My initial thoughts were that we left the brood without the colony for too long and we may have damaged or killed them. The brood frames would have been left without the colony between 1-3 hours but it was a warm and humid 28°C day and the box was placed in part sun with an inner cover over it.
However, I spoke to another local experienced cut-out person who said this has never happened to him, thinks that albeit potentially a tad harmed the brood should have been fine and said that he keeps the queen caged for up to 3 days after relocating the hive. He also believes that young colonies are more likely to abscond as they may be less tied to the young hive, and he feeds the colony sugar syrup if new so to boost them with wax production and entice them to stay. Great advice, I reckon!
Does anyone else have experience with this or have ideas?
The first reveal in the roof:
A gorgeous little colony amongst the horrible insulation:
Perfectly sized comb for the frames:
Positioning for returning foragers: