After about 2 hours of removing bees and honey comb from the speaker box, we had the bees in their new hive. As we cut out and removed comb, we looked at each removed section in hopes of finding the queen. The only way to be sure you have the queen is to find her, and make sure she is put in the hive. With the amount of bees in this colony, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. We never did find her, but we were confident we had her, as we estimate we managed to hive about 90% of this colony.
The photo below is what the speaker box looked like when we removed the back. Honey comb from top to bottom, neatly drawn out row by row.
Below is a photo of the back of the box that was removed. You can see the various sections of brace comb in the speaker box back panel. Lot's of bees too!
After about 2 long, hot, sweaty hours, we had managed to secure some of the comb with capped brood into empty frames, and placed them into the new hive box. We shook, scooped and placed as many bees as we could corral into the hive box, put on the top, and called it a day. Now the challenge was to see if we did indeed have the queen, and if this colony would accept their new home.
We went back to check on the newly hived bees this evening, and when we drove up to the hives, there was a good sized swarm of bees hanging about 3 feet off of the ground on a tree limb near the hive. Uh Oh...........they swarmed! The only thing that makes sense to us is the fact that we didn't have the queen in the hive after all. She must have been hanging out on the hive stand, or was in the grass near the hive stand, or under the hive stand in the mulch. Either way..............seeing the swarm meant that in the middle of that swarm of bees was a queen! We went back home, grabbed another bottom board and hive body, returned to the bee yard, and captured the swarm. We cut the tree limb, and shook all the swarming bees into a hive box. After the bulk of the swarm was in the hive box, the rest of the bees smelled the queen pheromone scent, and they just walked right in the front door! We waited a little while until all the bees from this swarm had entered the box, and we placed the inner cover and lid on the hive box. I gently placed the hive on the hive stand, and we returned home. We hope they will stay in the hive, and become a good, productive colony. Time will tell if they like their new home and stay. If not, we will have had a good learning experience........and the enjoyment of hiving our first feral colony.
We will check on these bees again in the morning, and provide an update on how they are doing. It's been a long, hot day with the bees.........if they leave, at least we tried our best!