I picked up two Nuc's in the middle of May. One hive has filled out 70 to 80% of the frames and I have put a second brood chamber on them. The other hive is the problem. I have been hesitant to post, as there is a lot of data and I am not sure how much of it will help someone form an opinion to give me. At any rate, here goes.
1. The weak hive never has had any 'orientation/training flights' that I frequently see on the strong hive on the weekends when I am in the yard in the afternoon.
2. The weak hive never has a good number of bees coming and going, like the strong hive.
3. The weak hive has always had two frames with both capped brood and eggs (I cannot say for sure that there were eggs on the last investigation (this past weekend) as I was a bit out of sorts and didn't pay attention
4. I have seen the queen on every investigation until this last one. But, I did not spend a lot of time looking. The hive was having problems and I had to check them very late in the day, which I'm told is not ideal. So, I was not taking a lot of time to examine each frame, except to check for brood and pollen stores.
5. On the advice of an experienced beekeeper, I started feeding both of my hive about 3 weeks ago. The strong hive immediately starting taking syrup, while the weak hive ignored it for 2 weeks and has only now started taking it.
When I opened the hive last Sunday and noticed only 3 fully drawn frames and two that were being worked on, I was concerned. I read somewhere that just because you do not see fighting, it does not mean the hive is not being robbed (the guard bees may have been killed.) So, after the inspection, I put fresh syrup in the top feeder and put on an entrance reducer. When I did this, I took the top board (it was on top of my cover, where I put it during an inspection) and went to brush the bees off of it onto the landing area of the bottom board. For the first time, I noticed a ball of bees on the daggone top board. I looked at them and they were milling around in a ball. I figured that maybe one of the robbers was in the middle and brushed them onto the landing area...I have since read that 'balling' is something they do to queens. I have no idea what to think of that, but am wondering if this was a more serious thing then I first figured.
For the past two days, the bees have been all over the landing board and the entrance reducer. Today, it seemed to me that some of them were fighting. Every time I checked them, there were tons of bees all around the small entrance and a ton all over the landing board and on front. Occasionally, it seemed like a few were fighting.
Tonight, based on an article I read online, I was going to seal off the entire entrance with hardware cloth. The author indicated that if I see a bunch of bees on the outside in the morning, then I will know for sure they are being robbed. In addition, as long as they have food (I have given them syrup and a pollen patty), I can leave it sealed off for a couple of days and the robbers will give up.
But, I have gone out twice tonight and they are still milling around the entrance! My other hive has long gone to bed, but not these guys. Bees are out there even now, in the dark (making it difficult to seal the thing off!)
Well, that's it. It's a lot of info and most probably irrelevant or maybe needless worrying. Regardless, if you have comments or advice, I would love to hear it.