For two years running I have placed a hive in the Anderson yard. Each year the colony has disappeared within the first month; disappeared entirely.
I first place a hive in this yard in 2010 and though it was going to be in partial shade, the hive was placed in the SW corner of the nicely planted yard. It was protected on two sides by a six foot privacy fence that blocked the sun in the winter, but made little difference in the summer.
The family uses no herbicides or pesticides and there was no known knowledge of neighbors using them either.
In 2010, as I nervously installed the colony, I lost the Queen. Later in the day I placed a new Queen in the hive in her cage and left her there for the colony to get to know. The next day I released the Queen into the hive and hoped for the best.
Two weeks later I checked on the colony and they were doing well. Comb was being built and while I didn't see any eggs in the comb, everything seemed to be going as planned. Ten days later I rode my bike over to check on the egg scene and there was nary a bee in the hive; it was abandoned.
I took the hive apart looking for signs but didn't find any. There was no brood, just some built comb. There was nothing to have robbed, there was no damage to the boxes, the bees were simply gone. I knew that there were cell phone antennae on the steeple of the nearby church, but didn't think they could have that kind of effect since my house and hives were equidistant in another direction and so was another Hive Host's, and those apiaries were doing fine.
I spoke to the Hive Hosts and they said that they hadn't noticed anything strange either with the hive or in the neighborhood. The hive hadn't been disturbed. No spraying had been done nearby. It was too late in the season to restock the hive, so we decided to try again the following spring.
In 2011 I moved the hive to a sunnier spot next to the house in the side yard. This location put the hive in full sun from 10 AM to 4 PM and I was happier, since the shadiness of the previous location was the only thing that I could think of as a reason for the bees departure.
I installed the colony and fed them some sugar syrup and a pollen patty and wished them luck. A week later I came by to check on them and the bees, every last one of them, were gone. Again the hive was undamaged, there were no signs of disturbance, there were no clues.
If anyone can help with this mystery, I'd love to hear your theory. Somehow this is not a good location for a bee yard and the hive will be moved to a new location.