Sunday, 10 July 2016
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Hi, I just had my first experience removing bees from someone's soffit / eaves. Did not go as I expected. Wanted to post the events and my theories as to what happened and get your opinions.

June 20: The 'swarm' I went to catch had already set up camp and there were 8 swags of new beautiful white honeycomb filled with nectar but no eggs. (My theory at this time: a recently established swarm with a queen who had not yet started laying.) We took the comb and as many bees as we could cajole to come with us. We did not see the queen (there were LOTS of bees!) nor could we confirm yay or nay from the behavior of other bees. We shook the bees into a hive box at my house, a half mile (as the bee flies) from their original location. I added a deep full of honey.

June 22-ish A couple of days later, I observed from a distance that bees seemed to be happily flying in and out. (My theory at the time was that they were doing well. However, it may have been that this hive -- with lots of honey -- was simply being visited by other bees.)

July 3: I go into the hive and it's empty. No bees at all. I also hear from the homeowner: bees are back, have moved 5 ft higher. Theories at this time: 1. I missed the queen the first time around. Surprising and unlikely but certainly possible as a handful of bees did fall to the ground. 2. I killed the queen. Sad but possible as the weight of the honeycomb and the ooze of the nectar in the bucket certainly smothered some bees. 3. The queen left the new hive and returned with her workers to the original location. (Someone has since suggested to me that I could have used a queen excluder UNDER my deep so that the queen would have to stay. Brilliant!)

Already, that's too many variables for my liking. Can anyone cross any off the list?

Today, July 10: We go to retrieve the new cluster of bees. Much smaller. Small enough that we should be able to see the queen. Cannot find her. (But we are 25 ft off the ground and I find this quite disconcerting!) This time there is brood in the small amount of comb, but only drone brood. NO worker brood at all. My theory: 1. the queen and the worker brood are actually IN the wall of the house and I only keep capturing the overflow comb. (Does this happen? Do bees in a wall extend their comb to the exterior?) The homeowner will investigate this possibility next week (it's a second home). The more likely theory to me is 2. Whatever happened to the queen in my first go-round left the remaining bees queenless and a layer worker kicked in and is laying the drone. Does this seem likely to others? And if this is the case, considering I already removed all the comb, what happens next. Won't this incomplete colony just die off? And in what time period?

Don't mean to bore you all with details, but this is new territory for me and I'd like to hear where I may have gone wrong.

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