The Queen Moves In, and Out, and In and Out
by Donald Ray Burger

Because of some busy weekends, I was unable to pick up my package and unclipped Buckfast queen until April 27. It rained all evening on the 27th. I decided to hold the bees until Sunday night. I fed them several times a day by brushing sugar syrup on the wire screen of the package. Everyone looked happy.

I had painted the hive stand, SHB trap and the hive bodies six days before hiving the bees. My nose could detect no odor of paint, so I was confident that the bees would like their wooden home.

Just before dark on Sunday, I suited up and hived the bees. The process went without incident except that the can of sugar syrup kept falling back into the package every time I tried to lift it out. It has been suggested that one should wrap a thick rubber band around the tin can once you lift it a little ways out so that it does not fall back into the package. I will try that next time.

I went to sleep thinking that hiving the bees was as simple a procedure as I claim it is in my classes.

On Monday morning I placed a quart of sugar syrup in the Boardman feeder and added the entrance reducer.

When I came home from work on Monday night, I immediately spotted a tiny swarm in a rose bush that was less than 6 feet from the hive. I opened the hive and noted that all of the queen candy was eaten from the queen cage and the queen was gone. There were very few bees in the hive. I concluded that the swarm was my queen and ten thousand bees.

I got a cardboard box, and clipped the rose branch so that the entire swarm fell in the box. I then dumped the swarm back into the beehive. My hope was that the queen would decide to stay. She did not. By the next day the bees had flown the coop. I later learned that I should have added screen in the front so she would be forced to stay at least a few days and get used to the hive.

I have heard from other beekeepers that they painted their hives the day before hiving without problem. I donít know how long one should allow for the odor of the paint to dissipate. I have also learned that sometimes the bees can eat through the queen candy in one day. Since the bees formed a swarm, I believe they did not ball the queen. I am really not sure why the queen left. Any suggestions would be welcome.

Written May 15, 2013

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