My very first bees came from a swarm that had taken up residence inside of a speaker box that I received on Thursday March 3rd. I removed the bees from the speaker box and put them into a deep hive body with a queen excluded between the hive body and the bottom board on Thursday March 4th. Since this is my first year as a beek and my first bees ever, I could only give them one small frame of old comb and one frame of comb salvaged from the speaker box. I gave them a pail of sugar water feed through a 7/8 inch hole in the cover so they would not starve. When they were still in the speaker box, I could see them bringing in pollen but after I transferred them to a deep box, I noticed they were no longer bringing in any pollen but they had consumed about 4 cups of sugar water. On Sunday March 6th, I removed the queen excluded and some small pieces of comb that I had not attached to a frame because they were too small but were full of nectar. The pieces of comb from the speaker had already been drawn down and attached to the bottom of the frame. Everything seems to be going fine so far.
Monday, I received a call that a nuc with an Italian queen was available. I picked them up that evening and placed the nuc on the bottom board of their new hive and opened their tiny little door. The nuc stayed in place overnight and on Tuesday, I transferred the nuc into the hive body with a sugar water pail feeder, paying attention to install the frames in the same order as they were in the nuc. My nuc hive seemed to be immediately very interested in my swarm hive. I blocked off the entrance to my swarm hive down to about 4 inches so they would have less area to defend. I wish I known to block it off more so that only one or 2 bees could leave at at time. I was still not seeing any pollen being brought into my swarm hive but thought they were just bringing in nectar to build up some new comb. Wednesday, March 9, I was gone most of the day and was excited to get home to check on my 2 new hives. I found a lot of activity in front of my nuc hive but very little in front of the swarm hive. The nuc hive had barely touched the pail feeder but I noticed that sugar water had been dripping from the pail feeder on the swarm hive. The pail feeders had not leaked before, so I know that I installed them correctly. I was curious about the lack of activity on my swarm hive so I cracked the cover to see what was going on. I was disappointed to find the hive almost completely empty. I think the few bees in the hive were bees from the nuc hive. I found about 30 dead bees on the bottom of the bottom board. I think my nuc hive robbed my swarm hive and caused them to abscond. The only thing I think I could have done different was to close the entrance more than I did.
Now that my swarm hive has absconded and I also have a nuc hive that came with a total of five frame, the 5th one being a frame of foundation and no comb, should I remove that 5th frame of foundation and replace it with the frame of attached comb that came from the speaker? My thinking is that if I get another swarm in the future, I would have more comb to put back in my other hive and hopefully keep them from absconding.
Is it normal to see staggering drones and dead drones on the ground in front of the hive this time of year? Other than that my nuc hive seems to be doing very well. They are not touching the pail feeder so I guess nature is providing them with enough of what they need. I can't wait to open them up this weekend to see how much they have accomplished in 5 days.