Last weekend I took a look at the hive. Just from a ways off, not suited up and didn't go inside.
The first thing I noticed was that about 1 in 20 or so bees were coming in with 1/4" balls of pollen, they looked rediculous as they were coming in.
There were an unusual number of bees on the outside and some of them were on the side of the hive. I had binoculars and watched. I noticed that once in a while a bee that was sitting on the outside would get buzzed by an airborne bee and they both would take off. Does this sound like robbing? They looked more agitated than normal and sure enough one started to buzz me and hit me a couple of times. My son and I were about 25' away which is where we normally take a look prior to opening it up. We left before it got to stinging me.
Well I came back today (the earliest chance I had) and the traffic look significantly down in volume w no giant pollen balls flying into the hive. They were pretty mellow. The sky was solid clouds and getting ready to rain, we really need it bad and I hope it does. Do you think the bees new it was going to rains and were just hanging out inside? or does it sound like I lost a swarm?
Well, I smoked em and opened the hive. I was somewhat nervous because I'm a rookie and my son and I have been lit up pretty good a couple of times although lately we have refined the bee tightness of our suits :) . The hive is 3 deeps tall and has been for a good 6 monthes or so, although they have only built out a couple of the top frames after mixing in a few from the middle box. About a total of about 1 1/2 frames of honey in the top box. Most of the frames of the middle box had decent honey from the top down with only a little brood on some of the bottoms. Brood looked good and uniform. Frames had plenty of bees on them. The appearance of the middle box made me concerned that they may be somewhat ignoring the top box and getting honeybound from the top of the middle box down. I removed more fresh bridging comb between the top and middle box than I ever have seen before and some of it had brood, but I felt like I had to in order to be sure to get the top box to sit right when replaced.
Well, about this time I've been in there a while. Concern about smoker fuel running out and increasing pressure from the hive may have contributed to doing something impulsive without really thinking it through. I switched the top and middle boxes and never looked in the bottom box. I also reduced the opening to about 4 inches across and propped the lid on the downwind side open with a wooden matchstick on each end for ventilation. I had unhappy bees buzzing me while still suited up 100 feet away as I rolled up the hose etc in prepping to leave. Ha ha, I have achieved bee tightness and haven't been stung in 3 or 4 openings now!
What do you think? Will they recover from this abuse? Any suggestions or comments will be appreciated.