OK, drove up to spend a few days with my bees in N. Wis. I had a queen to install in one hive and wanted to check the progress of the Ross Round super on my other hive.
Got up there about 3pm Thurs. afternoon. The forecast for Fri. was mid 50's scattered showers, so I figured I'd install the queen right away. It was about 60 degrees, light breeze, nice afternoon.
I got my smoker going right away, got suited up and took the queen and my little "kit" of tools (an old strawberry picking box) and started walking out to the hives (up and over a little hill, partially blocked from the view of the house with new pines growing up).
Got to a spot along the path where I could see the hives and the "red" hive (the color of their landing board) was tipped over! The brood box was laying on it's side off the bottom board, the Ross Round super laying a few inches away, flat though on the ground, the inner cover, vent box and outer cover scattered, but very close by. Hmmmm. The boxes were not damaged or scratched in any way. The electric fence was still on, but I noticed the top wire was unhooked at the "gate". I honestly don't know if my dad or I happened to leave it that way when we were last there, or if someone, or something undid it. The interesting thing (besides the fact that the boxes showed no signs of damage) was that the bees seemed perfectly happy. Lots of them coming and going from the bottom of the box (which was now on it's side facing east). I took a quick look in the RR super box, only a few bees in there and not much comb drawn out, maybe 3 or 4 rounds (out of 32) and only a 1/4 - 1/3 drawn on those. I immeadiately righted the brood box, and that seemed to bother them. I put the RR back on top, covers, ect. and closed up the hive as they seemed moderately agitated by the activity.
I smoked the "yellow" hive, checked frames, checked the brood status and gave them their queen. I should mention, up to the point of checking the brood in that box, I wasn't 100% certain which hive was going to need the queen, as this hive came out of a cut down split I did about 8 days earlier. I figured it was the yellow hive (as I didn't see her at all when moving frames to that hive during the split), but like I said, not 100% sure. When I checked all the brood frames there was no uncapped brood, no eggs at all, so I knew that was the box that was queenless.
OK, got her in no problem - it was starting to sprinkle a little so I closed that hive up and closed up the fence and sat down to watch what little flight was left for the day.
The red hive was not at all happy about me closing up their "entrance", it took the girls alot longer than normal to find their way into the hive. By 6pm or so, both hives were 'in' for the night.
Friday, I went out about 10am and took a seat to see what I could see. Both hives had good flight activity even though the temps were only in the low 50's, but I noticed something I've never really seen with my hives before (and I mentioned this in Ocean's post), a few 'guard'? bees at the red hive were really giving some of the returning bees a hard time. Sort of "attacking" them, rolling down the bottom board - sometimes 2 or 3 bees would gang up on one at the same time. The interesting thing is that after maybe 15-30 seconds of this, the "attack" bees would seem to loose interest and the bee that had been ganged up on would just walk on in. Hmmm. I'm wondering if they were carding at the door, or if it was some sort of trading of nectar or pollen? The yellow hive showed no such activity.
Temps were in the low 60's Sat., lots of bees flying, I didn't go into the hive. Sunday morning I needed to leave by noon or so. I waited until about 11:30 and went back in to check on the queen's release. She was, I didn't disturb them anymore, will check for brood pattern when I get back up there in about a week. Took a look at the RR super on the red box. I have to say, it's really hard to see into the center of the rounds without removing them from the box (and that's a no-no). Plus, I was wearing my veil, and the pattern from the veil seems to play optical illusions with looking for the drawing pattern on that thin white wax. OK, maybe it's just me being 'dizzy'
, but anyway there were bees in there, but just seemed to be doing alot of walking around, not alot of 'working'.
The dandelions are almost finished up there, the apple blossoms are just starting. Between myself and my neighbor, we have about 8-9 apple trees. Like I said, they'll be opening this week as the temps are suppose to be up in the 70's, so I added another Ross Round super to the red hive. Don't know if I'm giving them too much room, but everything I've read thus far says better to have an extra super on for them ready to go, than not have enough. Since I can't be up there until next Sunday or Monday I went ahead and put it on.
Oh, I need to mention. I didn't know how long the red hive had been knocked over (or how). My neighbor (the B&B owners with the apple trees) came over and mentioned he saw the hive sitting like that, but "thought I left it that way"
so he didn't call me. I assured him I would never have left it sitting completely dismanteled, so IF it ever happened again, please call me. Then I asked him how long it had been that way. "Oh, I would guess 7 or 8 days."
SHEEESH!!!! OK, this is a smart guy, why the heck would he not have called me!!! Anyway, I'm wondering how much more of the RR super would have been drawn out had it been sitting on the hive for a week, not laying on the ground?
So, anyone ever have a hive tipped over? I don't think it was vandals. We don't have teens in the area (let's face it, we don't have people in the area!), if it was an animal, the best bet might have been a bear, but again, no noticeable damage to the boxes. A deer could have stepped over the lower wire of the fence, and is probably strong enough to knock boxes over, but why? It definitely wasn't the wind (boxes were laying to the west of the bottom board, they wouldn't have fallen that way, and the neighbors said no high winds). The other possibility is a large dog, maybe a lab or retreiver would be strong and curious enough to tip them without doing any damage.
One of the liabilities of not being with them 7 days a week right now, but I guess if I had ALOT of hives in different beeyard locations, it could have happened the same way.