Hello, had a new hive this year. Things seemed to be going well but stupidly I added a super thinking they would make some honey. Turns out I was wrong. They abandoned the hive. They are around somewhere because I started feeding again when I removed the empty super. There were beetles in there and I think mites. The now wild hive must be doing good since there are lots of foragers. I put a top hive feeder too. There are yrlliw jackets in the hive but seems like all the honey they had stored is gone. How can I figure out why they left?
What did you see when you inspected, before and after supering?
My bet would be -
They swarmed, a lot which would make it easier for robber bees and pests to take over.
The super was too much space and they weren’t ready - so again, pests were able to take over.
The frames were all full of honey and some brood but I didn’t really know what to look for. I’m hoping if I feed them they might come back.
Don’t feed an empty hive. It just encourages robbing behaviour in your apiary and is an excellent way to spread pests and diseases. Empty the boxes out, clean up the comb and freeze if possible and be ready to start it again in spring. It would make an excellent swarm trap in spring.
They won’t come back Best tidy & put it all away as Rob explained. It’s okay, now you can do some winter reading on beekeeping and time to find a club or mentor
I will clean it up but still don’t understand why they left.
Hi Dan, they didn’t just ‘leave’, they either swarmed repeatedly or they died off or maybe absconded because of pests/disease. I should have added one more scenario to my previous post - the queen can be superseded, or hurt or killed during inspection, and if the colony is unsuccessful in making a new queen or she gets picked off by a bird on the way back from a mating flight, the colony will dwindle away to nothing.
Swarming is how bees naturally reproduce, so part of beekeeping is learning how to head it off. Pests & diseases are manageable for the most part, but if you do nothing chances are something (usually varroa mites) will cause colony death. You can be super careful and avoid damaging the queen during inspections, but there’s nothing you can do about hungry birds
Without more details about your inspections or some pics, it’s hard to say much more than those general scenarios that cause a colony to be wiped out. You’ll be better able to piece together what happened once you learn more about overall health, swarm prevention and mite management, though, and then be better prepared & know what to look for during inspections next season
Edit - I think maybe you’re under the impression that the bees you’ve been seeing taking feed from your hive are from your colony…that left as a whole and are now visiting. Just to be clear, it’s possible that some of those are bees that were in your hive and were part of a swarm from it, but there are likely to be other feral and managed colonies around you whose foragers those are too. That’s why @Rmcpb said to put everything away - you don’t want your apiary to become an undefended easy target for outside bees and pests
I havent taken pictures inside the hive but there are lots at my feeders so they are around somewhere
Hi Dan sorry to hear about your bees mate, remember bees don’t think like us and although we like to think we know how bees think we don’t.
Remember that bees can travel well over 2 miles in search of a feed so although it may seem that they’re the bees from your hive feeding from your feeders they may not actually be.
You can watch the direction the bees fly off and explore their line of flight if you think they are near by. Perhaps you’re putting sugar syrup into one of your neighbours supers.
Open feeding is one of the ways beekeepers end up with adulterated honey. They may not be feeding their bees but the bees are bringing your sugar water into their hive. Next minute the beekeeper is accused of adulterating their honey.
Put the gear away till next season and toss the entrance feeders!
Based on where I live and looking in the area there are no other hived bees close by but your suggestions make sense. Hang it up until next year. I appreciate all the feedback and suggestions. Thanks.