I was wondering if Hive 1 being abandoned was because I went away. Was there something I failed to do because I was absent? It did seem like quite a coincidence that I go away and two hives die or colonies leave.
Monday Sept 5th. I went to visit the bee hives to try and dismantle Hive 1 to get the wasps out of there. I had left the two boxes lying on their sides on the grass, thinking that perhaps the wasps would decide it wasn't such a good home after all now that it was open front and back. But when I got there today, the wasps were happily flying in and out, totally unperturbed. I wasn't really sure what to try next, so I left it like that.
I did notice that there was a pile of yellow gritty stuff on the surface of the cinder block stand that the hive had been resting on. There were a number of bees flying over it and landing on it and apparently trying to collect it. I came to the conclusion that it must be pollen that had poured out of the cells of the hive before I moved it, after the colony had gone, scattering onto the hive stand below.
Tuesday Sept 6th. I called Allan to see if he could enlighten me about what I should do with storing the bee-less hives. Do I scrape off the wax? Do I leave it on and give it to a new set of bees when I use the hive box again? Apparently the answer is, yes and yes.
Allan was intrigued about the hives empty of bees. He had a theory. Apparently, he had had a problem with robbing at his hives recently. He had been setting up a queenless hive so as to raise queens, but because it was a hive under duress, it was not able to fend off bees from other hives that tend to try and rob other hives at this time of year. He suggested that if either of my two hives had been not very strong, they may have been robbed by other bees, and they would have been powerless to do anything. This could certainly be the case with the queenless hive I had. It was so small and was never doing too well. Not enough of a population to fend off wax moths, let alone other bees. However, I wouldn't have thought it was the case with Hive 1. When I checked it before I went away in August, it looked fine to me. But I could have been wrong. What is puzzling is what became of those bees then? Did they just fly away and die, or did they go and join another colony?
If this is the case, then I suppose the thing I could have done to prevent this from happening would have been to give all the hives sugar syrup - perhaps there was a period of food shortage while I was gone. But this is assuming that I would have noticed that there was a food shortage. So maybe I would not have been able to prevent it anyway. Who knows.
I told Allan about the bee sting I got on my hand back on Aug 3rd. He suggested that if anything like that happened again, to try and get the stinger out immediately! Of course, I knew that at the time, but wasn't able to. But he also suggested that the more I got stung, the LESS I might react in time. He said that that is what happened to him - you build up a tolerance. He says it doesn't bother him at all now.
Later, after my conversation with him, I noticed it was raining, so I went down to the apiary to close up the hive boxes that had the wasps living in it. I didn't want the inside of the hive to get all wet. When I got there, I realized I had forgotten to bring my bee gloves. Well, I thought, maybe I can lift the boxes and pile them on top of each other anyway. So I did, but a wasp got me on my ring finger, sigh. It swelled up a bit, but not like the bee sting I got in August.
That was very dumb.