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Hello from the Finger Lakes region of NY!


Hi All! My name is Kelley and I live on 11 acres in Hammondsport, NY. I just started keeping bees this year. I started with a top bar hive from Backyard Hives, and a package of Italian bees that arrived a few weeks ago. They came on a very cold and rainy day (probably too soon for our area), and half of the bees were dead on arrival! I put the bees in the hive with a feeder (external), and over the next few cold days, I thought they all died. So, I ordered another package of Russian bees (which has not yet arrived). Then we got some warm weather and they all perked up! Thank goodness! Rather than stop the order of Russians, I just decided to start another hive. So, I bought a Warre hive from Bee Thinking, and am currently putting it together.

My first interesting experience with the bees was when I noticed that about 5-6 feet away from my top bar hive was a small cluster of bees on the ground, and at the center was the marked queen (I got a marked queen since I am so new to all of this). So, I got a little dust pan and gathered up as much of the cluster as I could, and made sure I had the queen. They were on old dried up leaves from last year. Then, I put the queen and the cluster, on the leaves, on the floor of the end of my top bar hive where no comb had been built yet. As soon as I did, the bees on the inside of the hive all faced the queen and the leaves, covering the walls around her, and they raised their bums in the air, beating their wings and were really buzzing loudly…all while facing her! It was really surreal! I was not sure what was happening. At the time, I thought they were all “worshiping” her or something. A person from my bee club told me they were “balling” her, and that they would kill her. (Bummer!) But, I checked a couple days later, and she was fine, mingling among the other bees on the comb.

The little Italian colony seems to be doing okay. They have drawn comb on at least four bars. I removed the feeder, since the trees are finally starting to bloom. We are expecting a long stretch of warm weather, finally! I am looking forward to hearing from other members of this group on top bars and Warre hives! I plan on introducing myself to both groups. Have a great day!


Howdy Kelley. When I install a package I put the feeder in the hive and block the entrance with screen for a couple of days. Since I’ve done it this way I have had no more absconding. I think you will really like the Warre hive. I started with Horizontal Top Bar hives (3) and now have Warres (5) also and personally prefer the Warres. Good luck!


I’ve never blocked them in and of the 50+ packages I’ve installed I think 2 have absconded. The most common reason, by far, that packages and swarms abscond appears to be open screened bottoms. So if you’re installing bees, be sure to close up the screened bottom until they’re established with comb.