The process was easy enough - I moved the queen onto a new (combless) frame, shook the bees off the old frames and left the frames to one side. I left in one-and-a-half frames of partially-drawn comb (for the queen to lay in), and the rest of the frames were new with nothing but fresh foundation.
Then I burned the frames. They burn well:
On Saturday, I returned to do my weekly inspection. But there was nothing to do in hive #2 - the bees had gone! Here's proof:
This is known as absconding - for fairly obvious reasons. Bees will do it if they are under stress, and decide that their current home is not conducive to their survival. Factors can include:
- Disease and parasites
- Attacks from predators
- Other significant disturbance (such as beekeepers!)
Given that we know that the bees were sick (Sacbrood), had me interfering by removing the brood, and had no honey stores left (it was all on the frames that I burned) it's really no surprise that they decided that they'd had enough. With the very warm weather that we've been having, they obviously thought that, if they find a nice undisturbed place to set up home, there's still enough time before winter for them to build some new comb and collect plenty of honey. Of course, they may well have been collected by a local beekeeper, or they might have set up home somewhere up on Beechen Cliff.
Either way, I hope they found a comfortable new home and they're collecting lots of nectar and pollen in this lovely sunny weather!