i have some pretty disheartening news regarding our hive. While the pictures below make it look like there are not any bees left in the hive, it’s just the one frame I have pulled out that is on the outside of the seven frames in the hive. I estimate that there are still about 10-20 thousand bees in the hive, but did not find the queen. I am thinking it left when the hive split (it did this last weekend - we saw it swarm into a nearby pine tree, and the next morning it was gone). There are several queen cells in the hive, which is good news. However the lack of much capped honey or comb with signs of young larvae have me concerned.
A little history, we received our bees last year, and they were very productive and we ended up harvesting about 30lbs of honey in our first season. We left most of it in the hive for winter. We did wrap the hive over winter (we live in Wyoming, USA where temps last year got to 20 below 0) and supplement their honey stores with a mixture of 2:1 sugar water in January/February tailoring off to 1:1 in March\April, we unwrapped the hive when temps returned to the 40’s in late february. With all the moisture this spring there has been plenty of early season flowers and fauna for the bees. Resulting in a very large colony of bees that split and the image I sent you last week showed that.
I have been doing weekly hive inspections this spring and noticed that the comb looked very dark, but with the sheer number of bees in the hive I was not concerned, along with the observation that the bees were actively storing new honey. This weekend we opened up the hive to take a look after the swarm of bees left, and while there’s still quite a bit of cross comb (which we have corrected), the rest of the frames appear to be empty of brood. We did not find the queen, but several queen cells. THeir also appears to be only a small amount of capped honey left - my assumption here is that with the swarm of bees, before they left, they consumed a majority of the stored honey.
my main concerns from the images attached are:
1 - the dark coloring of the comb
2 - how the honey in the dark comb is exposed, where i would expect to see brood
3 - not finding the queen (it is marked and should be easy to find
4 - the yellow dust on the back of some of the bees
5 - how some bees are smaller than others (these smaller ones are the only ones with the ‘dust’ on the back)
6 - the small amount of capped honey
I am worried that this may be American Foul Brood. But i really dont know.
What would your suggestions be for this struggling colony?
I really appreciate any feedback and suggestions.