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Interesting event in the bee yard. A couple weeks ago I performed a cut out on a top bar hive that had gone burr comb crazy. I cut and rubber banded brood into deep Langstroth frames and brought it home. After letting them settle down I inspected the hive and was pleasantly surprised to find the queen unharmed. She was nice and big and had a dark color. Happy with myself, I closed them up. I did note that they seemed less than industrious and after over a week they took little sugar syrup and other than attaching the old brood comb to the frames they were not building new comb. There were plenty of loafers around the front while seemingly there was plenty of work to be done!

Then, they were gone! Not like a swarm or a new package sometimes absconds in a few days. It had been well over a week; maybe ten days. It could be they were thinning down the queen for flight. I though to check if that fat, heavy queen had been left behind but she was gone. It also seemed they might have waited until almost all of the brood hatched out before they left.

I checked all the trees because I look at all my hives daily and they had been there the day before. Nothing. Then I checked the swarm traps. Nothing. Not even scouts.

I resigned myself to losing them. Then I noticed a hive I had split the week earlier. It was three doors down from the absconded colony. The split had a queen cell but I didn’t think a laying queen yet. And the split had been a weak split of just a few frames of bees. But wait. Now the split was bubbling over with bees. By now you’ve guessed it. A usurpation had occurred. Wyatt Mangum writes about this happening especially during summer when a normal swarm would have almost no chance of otherwise surviving because of dearth. Wow.


Honey Bee Usurpation