Absconded? One of my honey bee colonies has vanished. Possibly it disappeared weeks ago, and the bee traffic I had been seeing was the other hives robbing out the stores. But today, there were yellow jackets going in. And when I peered down between the frames I could see clear through to the ground below. There was no cluster of bees.
It was my most cantankerous hive, and nearly every sting I received this summer came from there. I assumed it was the queen's temperament, and was thinking of re-queening if they survived the winter. But maybe it was just a hive under stress.
Inside the hive there was no sign of disease or damage. The bottom board had a hundred or so dead workers, but that counts for nothing in a colony that numbers in the tens of thousands. The bees seems just to have left or faded away - nothing but the eerie emptiness of colony collapse.
I took what honey remained and gave it to the lighter of my two remaining hives. I put the rest of the frames - either empty comb or filled with pollen - into the shed for spring. If no raiders loot it in the meantime, the pollen might help a new colony launch when the nectar starts to flow again . . .