Next was to move the colonies from the long top bar hives into smaller nucleus hives for easier transport. My trailer isn't that big and there is no way to get all the long hives into it hence the need to transfer the bees into the nucleus hives. Once I begun the transfer I quickly realized that my new nucleus hives are a bit smaller than the original long hives so I had to chop'n'crop the comb which was a bit messy. During the transfer I could not find Queens :( which made me worried because I shook each comb into the hive before cropping it. Queens can get lost this way and even get damaged because of the fall.
Transport hives on top of the long hives
I have waited until 20 h for all the bees to return to their hives for the night and once they stopped flying I sealed the entrances with aluminium net and moved them into the trailer. The journey was a bit bumpy even though I was driving on asphalt roads all the way from Sweden to Denmark. The journey took 2,5 hours.
When we arrived to our farm I moved the hives to their permanent location and noticed nectar/honey leaking from two hives :( That didn't look good at all! I was sure some comb collapsedso I opened the hives to see whats going on;
Hives placed in our forest garden. Notice the first hive bearding. That is one of the hives where honey was leaking from.
When I opened the hive this is what I saw :( collapsed comb and many bees squashed! I moved all the undamaged comb into a new hive body and placed the collapsed brood comb at the back in hope the survivor bees will care for it.
Once all the undamaged comb was moved to a new hive I shook all the bees dead and alive onto the ground in front because it was impossible to take the living bees out. Most of the living bees quickly found their way into the new hive and the rest were dead bees :( too many have died :( After an hour this colony begun to fly as if nothing happened.
The second colony had only 2 undamaged combs. 8 combs collapsed :( This was a total horror! Seeing all these bees dead and dying crushed my heart and for once I wished I had conventional hives and not top bar hives. This cant happen in conventional hives because all comb is within wooden frames. Top bar hive comb is free hanging and hence a bad candidate for transport. Most of the bees on the ground are dead and those alive moved up into the new hive which has only two combs. All the collapsed comb I've placed into the hive with no Queen. I simply placed them against the walls at the back in hope they will know what to do. Since they have no brood I'm sure they will be happy to get some.
The other 3 hives were flying very strong today. They are totally undamaged because they are smaller colonies which didn't collect much nectar and hence the combs were very light. The 2 colonies which got damaged where my strongest colonies which filled combs with lots of nectar and even had 2 combs with capped honey. Im so sad I cant even find words to explain it :(
All this collapse would not happen if I went to Sweden earlier to get them before they had the chance to fill the combs with nectar. I should have known better because we had a very mild winter and everything started blooming sooner this Spring ... :( lesson learned ...
As soon bees calmed down for the day I cleaned up all the dead bees to reduce chance for disease and attracting local bees to my apiary since all the dead bees were covered in nectar. Very messy move indeed.
What hurts me most is that they made it through the winter and now got great suffering just because i wanted to move them :( I am so sorry ... I am. I hope never to move bees again.