Got my new bees and then I lost a crucial one :(
In 2015, my second year of keeping bees, I had an enviable, productive year with just two hives.
Although both colonies ultimately died in late January this year, combined, they gave me more than 220 pounds of honey, much of which I still have for sale, and they allowed me the full season of beekeeper duties so that I really got a feel for keeping my bees properly. I learned well after my hives died that varroa mites were the culprits that killed my girls. Both hives had plenty of honey stored for the winter and their hives were well ventilated and warm enough. We did have a fairly tame winter compared to 2014/2015, so I wasn't too worried about them freezing to death, especially since they had plenty of honey to eat. Bees stay warm by clustering into a ball and vibrating their bodies together to keep their hive at around 94 degrees Fahrenheit.
So, totally hooked on beekeeping, I ordered two more colonies of carniolan bees with marked queens. Those packages arrived on April 21, which is when I put them in their hives. This year, I used brood box frames that last year's bees filled with honey. I'd since harvested that honey leaving the drawn comb mostly intact and then right before my bees arrived last month, I froze the 20 frames for 24 hours to kill any and all bugs and their eggs that might impact my new bees. When my bees arrived, per the instructions of my supplier, I put bees in their hives and sandwiched the queen cages for each hive in between two frames with the exit hole facing down. Per their instructions, I'd removed the cork from the hole and plugged it with a piece of marshmallow. The bees in the hive take a few days to eat through the marshmallow blocking the exit and while doing so, grow accustom to their new queen via pheromones. I then topped each hive with a top feeder and filled one chamber in each with a 2:1 mixture of water and sugar, and put the inside and outside covers back on each.
Today, May 1, I opened each hive for the first time to make sure the queens had found their way out of their cages. To my dismay, the queen in my east hive was still in her cage. As I carefully pried the rest of the now rock-hard marshmallow out of the exit with it facing down into the hive, the queen squeezed out and flew off instead of going down into the hive. I instantly felt like the rookie beekeeper I know I still am for losing my queen. Last night, I kidded myself that the queen had found her way back into the hive and in the morning everything would OK. But a check of that hive this morning showed no sign of the queen, so I'll be ordering a new queen on Monday and have her overnighted so I can get her in there so the bees can get used to her.
In the west hive, all is right with the world with plenty of bees and the queen easily spotted among them, so I'll be leaving them alone to allow the queen to start laying eggs to create brood and build up that hive for the coming nectar flow. Anyone who's got a swarm they don't have room for, I'll take 'em. I may actually also order another package of bees just to hedge my bets.
Say a prayer for my girls!