Bees Congregating on Landing Board

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Dbure, May 19, 2011.

  1. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Over the past few days I have been noticing that the bees in one of my 4 hives have started congregating on the landing board right in front of the opening. When we first set the hives up we noticed that this hive in particular seemed to be the weakest of the 4 nucs that we received. Is it possible that the bees have already outgrown the brood box in a month?

    This morning it seems that all 4 hives are doing this now but this weaker one seems to be the worst with about 50 bees sitting there. It is still early and I am thinking that it may have been like this overnight. The temperature here feels to be about 70 degrees. I have been concerned about signs of swarming that I am not familiar with and have even wondered if there has been some robbing going on at this one hive from the other hives. Do any of you here who have more experience at beekeeping have any thoughts or advice on this? :confused:
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    From the sounds of it it may be what is referred to as "bearding". If your temperatures are high during the day and the hive is congested some of the bees will temporarily take up residence on the front of the hive to allow for more ventilation. Bearding does not always mean swarm preperation though.
    Have you looked inside your brood box in the last month? A quick look will tell you much more than I can guess at here.
     

  3. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Thanks PerryBee. What you said about bearding seems to fit. We inspected the hives about 3 weeks ago and they had only begun to draw out a couple of adjacent frames set in to the sides of the nuc frames. This particular hive that I described as "weak" may be better described as just smaller than the others.

    Last weekend the temperatures dipped down into the lower 40's and the past couple of days they have been in the 70's during the day. A week ago last Friday I fed them because the weather had been damp and cool here in northeast Texas and they were not even budging to go out of the box. I have hive top feeders with an empty brood box on top for ventilation, and I am assuming that the vents on the feeder ends will allow for this. The weather a few weeks previous had been going up close to 90 during the day and so my husband opened the entances up to allow for more bees to come and go because it looked so congested at that time and we felt that the extra ventilation would be good. These up and down temperatures are crazy, but my best thoughts are to leave the hive entrances alone now that the bees have become accustomed to it???

    Yesterday I stood and watched them come and go and it did not look like they were bringing back alot of pollen as they had been, almost like the source they were getting it from had bloomed and faded. The pollen was inmistakeable because it was brilliant orange. I will try and do another inspection in the next day or two if the weather cooperates and get a better look inside to see what is going on. Is there some kind of average timeframe it takes for a new hive to fill a brood chamber up? Or does it depend on the queen's egg laying capability?
     
  4. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    If there is not much pollen coming in it may well be that the bloom they were working has passed but that in itself is not a problem.
    As far as a timeframe for filling a broodchamber up it depends on a lot of factors. Nectar flow is probably one of the biggest. The quality of your queens is also important. The number of bees that are in your colonies is important as well. You will discover that there is this"critical mass" (population) that bees arrive at when building up and when they reach that point they will seem to explode in numbers, drawing comb and filling it up, at times faster than you would imagine. It is at those times that congestion can happen rapidly and unexpectedly, catching a keep off guard and scrambling for equipment.
    Not being familiar with your normal temps I would still be inclined to leave your entrances open if they are now.
    Keep us informed with what you find during your inspection.
     
  5. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    After you mentioned "bearding" PerryBee I did a quick search on the internet to see what I could find on this and came up with what seems to be a pretty good article on the phenomenon. I have posted it here for others. The first few pictures seems to accurately describe what I am seeing only on a little larger scale from my own observance. The swarming issue seems possible but I won't know enough until I take a look inside as you suggested. I know that is also part of the natural process only I am not expecting such an early curve thrown at my limited experience so soon. :dontknow:

    http://countryrubes.com/images/Bees_bea ... omenon.pdf
     
  6. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Now that we have defined bearding, here is another little nugget of information, just in case you ever get to observe it and wonder "what the h*ll are they doing? :mrgreen:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lbwumXVTOz8
     
  7. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    That is a shock PerryBee because that is exactly what I have been watching them do. :shock: When I saw them doing it I wondered if they were trying to lay down comb. There were many of them all lined up across the bottom edge of the box above the entrance reducer and they were going back and forth in a forward backward motion. Thank you a million for that. :thumbsup:
     
  8. Bsweet

    Bsweet Member

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    Guess you all could call it the "two step" as its not quite a line dance :p
     
  9. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    ""This morning it seems that all 4 hives are doing this now but this weaker one seems to be the worst with about 50 bees sitting there.""

    Perry, you're not seeing what you are reading. The above quote told you it was washboarding. When have you seen 4 hives beard with 50 bees on the worst one?

    Wake up, fellow. The cold has gotten to you. :eek:ldtimer: :rolling:
     
  10. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Sorry Iddee, Guess I slept too close to the wall of my Igloo up here! :lol: (Tundra, yaknow :mrgreen: )

    I didn't make the connection between congregating and movement. I am somewhat puzzled as to why all 4 hives are doing this.
    I have yet to hear any reasonable explanation as to why bees washboard. I have heard one thought that it was some kind of cleaning manouver but that seems far fetched.
     
  11. Walt B

    Walt B New Member

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    I'm near Waco. Afew days ago my girls were having mint juleps on the porch. Some call it "bearding", I like to think of it as ladies enjoying the Summertime. :D

    [​IMG]

    Walt
     
  12. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Yes, Walt. Yours are relaxing. This is bearding....


    [​IMG]
     
  13. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Perry, would you accept laying down a scent for the foragers to find home?
     
  14. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    washboarding does look a bit like the Texas Two Step (which may be 3 steps??? depending on you political affliation).

    washboarding, bearding or just hanging out on the front stoop is pretty much just a part of what bees do... high humidity and high temperatures will enhance these behaviors no matter what the root cause or purpose.

    and finally to DBure. Texas is a fairly large place with some biologist telling us there are a minimum of 7 bio regions in the state. I would suggest (and my experience in keeping bees in 4 of these bioregions reinforces this notion) that how you keep bees will vary depending on location. Some description of location beyond just Texas would be useful. Just thinkin' out loud here....
     
  15. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Iddee:
    You suggest a very interesting thought there.
    I just recently closed off all my upper entrances as bees were bunching up and falling in big clumps onto the landing board and instead of going in they flew back up to the upper entrance and just repeated the whole affair, falling time and time again.
    What has been interesting to note is that many of the foragers still return (days later) to the upper entrance area and land but then "walk" the length down the front of the 2 deeps to the bottom entrance and enter that way now. While that in itself isn't remarkable, the route they are taking to get from top to bottom is unusual, as it is a rather circuitous route, meandering over to one side, down the length of the 2 deeps and then weaving towards the center before entering. This path is anything but direct and suggests some sort of "trail" layed down that the majority are following. Hmmmmmmm.
     
  16. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Yes Tecumseh, I can see your point. I am in the far northeastern corner of Texas close to the Arkansas borderline. We have had a fair amount of rain up here and temps have been all over the board. I thought that it was odd behavior to see considering it is not that hot. This morning it had grown worse and I could see that the number of bees outside on the landing board had grown exponentially. It is humid and I think rain is on the way again.

    I took PerryBee's advice and opened the hive to see what was going on inside. For this hive to be the smaller of the 4 it must have a pretty good queen in there because the box was crammed packed full of bees to overflowing. I guess they had simply run out of room. I would not have thought this possible so soon, but I am assuming that the nuc frames were fairly full of brood and the queen has been continually laying??? :confused: When I did the inspection 3 weeks ago I had trouble recognizing the little babies in the nursery being a newbee as I am. Looks like I now have a housefull.
     
  17. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Dbure:
    In reading your last post you did not mention as to whether or not you added another box. Make sure you add another right away if you haven't already or you may soon find your "housefull" half empty! :shock:
    Sounds like things are working out well for you, congratulations! :thumbsup:
     
  18. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    I did add another box on top PerryBee. :thumbsup: I figured that if they were that crowded they might start looking for a better apartment to live in. :D
     
  19. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Not to be a pain, was the second box just foundation or did it have any drawn comb? When adding a box of foundation it helps if you bait the second box with a couple of frames of drawn comb. If you don't have any, simply move a couple of combs up from the bottom box, replacing them with frames of foundation. (try not to disrupt any brood frames). I have however, moved up a couple of frames of brood before and then put my foundation in positions 2 and 8 in the lower box after pushing the remaining brood frames together and not had any problems.
     
  20. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    PerryBee. I only had foundation in the box I added. My husband asked if we should place some of the frames from below in it after I had already closed it up. I think he is going to make a better beekeeper than I am. :mrgreen: When I was closing it it looked like the bees were already moving upward into it. Of course I don't know the difference and that could be because they were trying to figure out where that big hole in their roof came from. :D Do you think it would be alright to replace a few frames tomorrow, or should I leave it now as it is? I can use all the advice I can get.