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Hi There,

Totally new to this. We had a colony of bees grow in our compost container. There were 6 combs, but during one very hot week most of them fell to the compost pile. I salvaged two big ones and moved them to a Langstroth hive (I moved the two combs to a blank). SO far so good. They seemed to move easily, started building, but then, despite greasing the legs on the hive stand, we had a terrible infestation of ants! So, I cleared the ants off…took ages…but no ants now. (There are very few bees, maybe a couple hundred and the ants in California are overwhelming). So, now I sunk legs in oil cans and the ant problem is solved. The bees seemed to be building a queen cell two weeks ago right before the ants. But now they do not seem to be building at all. Just eating. They eat a lot. 4 cups a day probably (feeding them 2 sugar to 1 water mixture as we don’t have many flowers left and I was hoping to encourage building). I don’t see a queen. What should I do? Also, how often should I open the top of the hive? I feel like they go through food very quickly and when it gets too low, they drown at the bottom. So I check every morning. (Open the top). Thanks for all your help! Bzzzz.

You’ll get some really good advice from the forum. Sounds like you’ve been on a roller coaster. It may help those looking to help to know Whether in addition to not seeing the queen did you see eggs, larvae or capped brood?

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Hiya Amy, firstly welcome to the forum. Secondly, well done capturing and saving the colony.
Did you see the queen when you first captured the colony?

Your story is amazing and it seems as though you are going above and beyond to help them. I hope it all works out for you. Not sure what kind of feeder you are using, but maybe place rocks at the bottom for them to perch on so they don’t drown.

Our bee’s are so very personal to us once we start caring for them. I’m going through the new bee keeper blues as well and it’s almost heart wrenching when your bee’s are having trouble. The good thing is, is that you started and that this decision will propel you forward whether or not this hive survives going forward, as you have done your very best. I’ve been feeding my bee’s 1:1 sugar/water mix and they do well on that. Were you able to save most of the bee’s though you didn’t get all the comb? About 3 weeks ago I ordered a queen as my rescue hives didn’t have them. If there are enough bee’s to attend a queen, it may not be too late to order one if they didn’t finish building queen cells. I got mine through C F Koehnen and Sons https://www.koehnen.com They are in N. Cal and will overnight a queen to you if you call them in the morning. They are really nice folks. The queen comes with attendant bee’s in a small screened box which you insert between your comb where your bee’s will feed her through the wire screen until they eat through the soft candy plug that keeps the queen caged. By that time they have come to know her smell and should accept her. I pray it all works out for you.

I’m afraid a couple of hundred bees are not going to survive unless they have a queen and are put in a very small hive

Thank you all for your feedback! I ordered a queen today and will hopefully have good news soon!

I ordered a queen today! Thanks for the idea!

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If you truly have that few bees they need to go into a mating nuc which has tiny tiny frames and is only a few inches cube or you should dummy the hive down with insulation to one frame.
That’s what I would do…and pray