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Beeless and clueless - my package absconded.

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New Bee

Joined: 07 Aug 2015
Posts: 3
Location: Nottingham, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 10:17 pm    Post subject: Beeless and clueless - my package absconded. Reply with quote

I am new to beekeeping. I built a topbar hive and bought a package to
put in it. I left the queen caged for a few days before releasing
her. The day after I released the queen the bees absconded.

So this leaves me with two problems:

1) Where to get some more bees?
2) How to prevent this happening again?

On number 2, I was thinking they may have taken against the new wood
in the hive. (I saw this online somewhere.) With the rain we've been
having recently I'm hoping the wood should be weathering pretty
quickly. I was also concerned I may have overdone it with lemongrass
oil. It smelt quite strong to me but I am a total beginner so don't
really know.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Jun 19, 2016 11:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Sorry to hear your bees didn't stay.

As you realise, it is important to understand why they absconded. Bees need a home and the fact that they left the safety of the one you provided to look for another, means that there is something wrong with it.

Certainly if the lemon grass oil smells strong to you, then it will be even worse for the bees as they have a very sensitive sense of smell. Personally I don't use lemon grass oil inside the hive, even to attract a swarm. I daub a drop or two around the entrance. If you are going to use it inside the hive then a few drops on a cotton ball inside a ziplock bag that has a few pin holes pricked in it is what you are aiming for.

As regards the new wood, this is also a likely reason for rejection and a bit of rain is not going to season the inside. The best thing you can do is take a blow torch to it and lightly scorch the inside and the top bars and rub well with beeswax whilst it is still hot/warm.

They also dislike open mesh floors in my experience, so make sure it is covered if your hive has one.

With respect to getting bees, I would personally recommend not getting a commercial package again as this feeds a market which is everything that "natural beekeeping" stands against.
Find a local beekeeper and ask if they can supply you with a swarm or shook swarm or bait your hive to attract a swarm. A bit of old brood comb will help, so if the local beekeeper can't provide a swarm, they should have a bit of old comb they can give you.

Beekeeping is not a pastime for impatient people. Make some bait boxes whilst you are waiting and prime as above.... make contact with pest control officers, police and fire brigade etc and leave your details to be notified if there is a swarm. Tell friends and family you are in the market for a swarm.... One will eventually turn up and in the meantime, research catching swarms.... You Tube is really useful for learning different techniques.... watch many so that you learn which are good and those which are less good methods.

Good luck getting some more bees but definitely make some amendments to your hive in the mean time.


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New Bee

Joined: 07 Aug 2015
Posts: 3
Location: Nottingham, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2016 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks very much for your detailed reply. It was very helpful and I will certainly be putting your suggestions into effect.

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