Lost most of my hive- Newbie to bees. Got 5-frame nuc in March. Located in Charlotte. Filled the hive quickly with brood and honey. Added super in June. Went away for a week in July and got back to fairly empty hive with no capped brood or honey left. And hive is less than quarter full of bees. Not sure how to proceed…
These additional pics were what the hive looked like in May prior to my adding the super…
They were already planning to swarm. Look at all the queen cells in that last photo! They swarmed while you were away.
Aww, that sucks… Any local beeks near you there who would part with a frame of brood and a few nurse bees?
Wouldn’t I need to get a new queen also?
Dawn, funny thing is that I added the flow super a month earlier or so, and they never really engaged with it…
Looks like they have swarmed more than once. There might well be a queen of sorts in there. You will have to check before you add another
You could get a new queen after verifying that there isn’t one there,… that would start things off faster.
Do I need to replace with new 5 frame nuc if I am down to less than a quarter of the bees I had?
Find out if there is a queen in there first. Have you an experienced beekeeper who can help?
At a minimum I would think that, discussion of the queen aside, you need a frame of brood/nurse bees and a frame of honey. A full nuc (assuming you have no queen) would solve your problem. However, depending on where you are, it could be late in the year to do that – something that other members of this forum should chime in on…
I think either you or I are missing something. Your post above says you added the super in June. However it seems like the photos were from May. So from the info here, it seems that they were planning to swarm BEFORE you added the Flow super - there are capped queen cells in the May photo. In May, from your photos, you really needed a modified Snelgrove split to prevent them from doing what they already had in mind. Or at least minimizing the impact on your hive. Adding a Flow super a month later would not have changed their minds. At least that wouldn’t work on my bees!
Page 17 of this document tells you how to do it, but it won’t help now, sorry:
Bottom line is that during the nectar flow, you need to inspect weekly and intervene, or risk a swarm. I am not blaming you, just saying that if you want to avoid swarming, beekeeping takes more work.
My gut feeling tells me that hive is done.
In my opinion it is too late in the season to start again so shake out the remaining bees and put the hive away and make sure wax moths and mice cannot get in.
Next year you’ll have a huge head start with a new nuc or package.
Moral of the story: Take your bees with you when you travel
I was trying to take the laissez-faire approach to beekeeping instead of actively interfering. I have read and spoken with advocates on both sides. I guess I will be a whole lot more hands-on in the next go-round. Thanks for the feedback.
It’s all part of the beekeeping learning experience. You’ll quickly learn the value in owning a second hive.
Wow - what a great read. Thanks for the link to the swarm control book.
Any other gems you hive hiding?
I agree with @JeffH in this instance. Initially I was only going to get one hive. Glad I ended up starting with two Nuc’s. If one swarms then you have the ability to take a frame of eggs from the hive with a queen to start up your hive that swarmed. You could take the laissex-faire approach later in the summer when the urge to swarm is not so high but May/June is prime swarm time. Need to look at the hives weekly in my opinion if you are only going to have one hive. That frame with all the queen cells on it looked awesome. Would have been a great frame to do a split with. Chalk it up to a lesson learned.
All I can say right now is to read as many books as you can, read posts on this forum, check out Michael Bush’s webpage, and learn as much as you can between now and next season. It will help you become more confident going into the next season. Then when you have questions next year you may have read about it already and have a basis to make a decision on or you can always post it on this forum. Everyone on this forum has been very responsive and willing to help. Good luck in the future.