Hive report: Requiem for a colony

IMG_8426As I approached the hives today to check on the release of the queens, it was obvious even to a novice like me that all was not well with Rosmarinus–bees all around the hive at every crack or join between the supers and under the screened bottom board as well. It looked like robbing going on but without any defense at the hive entrance. Ominous!

When I opened the hive there were very few bees that appeared to be doing the normal bee things that you would expect of the ladies in residence and some webby stuff right under the inner cover. Very few bees doing normal things. As I looked deeper into the hive I saw that the queen had not been released–was dead with attendants in the shipping cage.

There was an obvious problem–slimy looking stuff on the surface of the comb, more of the web-like stuff between frames. Small hive beetles had taken over quickly as the colony weakened even as I attempted to re-queen it.

In retrospect, it’s obvious that I should have put beetle traps in this hive when I first saw that the population was down. Lesson learned–hindsight is so good!  It’s amazing how fast SHB can take over once the population is declining (a lesson I’d really rather have done without–but definitely a learning experience).  This hive was opened twice since queen installation on 06 October 2016–and today–disaster. I would guess that an experienced beekeeper would have seen signs that I missed.

My mission today was to see if the queens had been released so, although with some reservations about the (probable) robbing activity going on from Rosmarinus, I started to open the Salvia colony. No sooner had I removed the telescoping cover and popped the inner cover than I had bees moving from around Rosmarinus to Salvia with fighting taking place on the inner cover. Discretion took over–I smoked and brushed the bees from the inner cover and immediately replaced the outer cover. With foreign bees around the hive I IMG_20150329_133928244_HDRstarted seeing some fighting on the landing board as well, so I put in an entrance reducer. The population of Salvia is good so I think (hope) they can defend the hive now.

I don’t know if that queen has been released–I thought it best not to continue to open the hive with the robbing activity. I’ll try again tomorrow and hope I find better results in this hive.