Some may remember, but #1 son decided he wanted to do bees this year so we spent the winter reading, researching, and building wooden-ware. Brought our two packages home from Dadant (Albion, MI) about a month ago and installation was perfect! Hives have south and east exposure, windbreak to the West and north. Weather has been cool and often rainy so it was 10-12 days before we checked on the queens. Both were out, bees were drawing comb and they'd gone through about 1/2 gallon of syrup on each hive. (The queen cages both had three or four "extra" bees inside including the queen, is that normal?)
About a week and a half ago, I was wandering by and noticed zero traffic at the entrance of one hive. Peeked in the top and there sat a dozen drones wondering where all the girls went. Two frames half drawn with some pollen packed in. Ben was bummed.
Yesterday, I went out to watch the other hive and things didn't look "right" so I peeked inside and it looked like only about 25% of the original family was there! It's been cool and rainy so we haven't taken everything apart to look for queen/eggs yet.
I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out what we did wrong and Ben is, understandably, devastated. Here's what I'm down to:
1. Didn't want, like or couldn't get to the syrup. We used plastic hive-top feeders from Mann Lake (end access, not middle). Each hive only went through maybe a gallon.
2. Inadvertently got "bad" material in the smoker on first inspection. This inspection seemed to be the beginning of the end, but there were no dead bees around the hives.
3. Crappy spring, too early of an install.
4. Bad luck.
Thoughts or ideas? Does anyone know where we can get bees this late in NW Indiana?