I am puzzled about bearding?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by arkiebee, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    Hi guys - I have a puzzle going on right now. One of my hives just has a hive body and 3 supers. All are full. This was a hive that I created from a split and it really went to town this spring. Well I didn't have another deep hive body, so I used 2 medium supers (which is what a lot of beekeepers use around here) Since it was a young hive I didn't worry too much about another deep.

    Anyway - this hive has been bearding for a while and then they would go inside. I have been reading your forums about bearding and I realize it is a sign of a huge hive. But it has been raining here for 3 days and they are still bearding outside the hive body??- the weather is really muggy (70s). I went out there after school just to see if maybe the entrance was blocked, but I couldn't tell because of the bees?? And it was raining so I didn't poke around any. I just went out to my hives with a flashlight here at 9:30 pm and this hive had almost the entire front covered in bees - still - Oh and this afternoon I saw lots of what looked like partially developed larvae on the ground. They were still white, but almost developed to an adult bee. I have been seeing that outside of several of my hives the last few days.

    I don't know what to do? Do you think I could go out there tomorrow and add another super? The only one I have has partially pulled comb, and if so " what" position should I place it? I have 3 supers and 1 deep currently.
    I would appreciate your advise - so I can take care of this tomorrow when I get home from school.

    Thanks
     
  2. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I would have two question and a couple of thougts for you arkiebee.

    first the questions:
    are the boxes standard ten frames and is this the number of frames you place in each box?

    do you have any ventilation at the top of the stack?

    bearding like you describe means numbers and crowding inside the box (this is why bearding can be a good indicator of swarming intentions). high humidity can make matters inside the hive a bit worse. ventilation at the top of the stack can ease the situation as can removing 1 frame from each box. also at this time of year I find my hives have begun to propolis the front and top entries.... this also could add to ventilation problems inside the hive.
     

  3. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    tecumseh - I read your post this morning before I left for school, and I do think it is probbly a crowding and ventilation problem because it has been so humid and rainy here the last 4 days - and it is still raining. What I might try if I don't change my mind by this afternoon - is take my empty super and put it on top - take some of the new frames and switch them with honey fromes - in other words chimney the two supers?????? But first I am going to check my screem bottom board by looking at it with a mirror and see if it isn't clogged someway.

    But yesterday when I looked at my hives those bees were so thick at the entrance that I bet no air could get through. But I do have a screen bottom board and I have all my hives on about 12 - 18 " hive stands that my husband made and I always keep the grass out from underneath them.

    But what would the white larvae - partially developed - bees that I saw on the outside? I know they kick the drones out in the fall, but these looked like partially developed bees - and they were big bees so I think they are drones?

    As I was leaving for school, they are still bearded up the front of my hive - thank goodness it isn't cold here, but it was in the 60s this morning and they think the rain will move out today and get in the 70s. I just worry because I know some of those bees are getting wet. I asked my husband to go out this morning and prop something up against the side of the hive to keep the rain off them. That would help some of those little gals clinging on???
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Bearding, to me, is a good sign. The bees will form their own shelter with their wings. They will shed the rain water. The queen has now slowed on brood rearing, so the hive numbers will begin to decrease through attrition. As the weather cools, they will go inside.

    The larva are drones. They throw out all drones, including larva and pupa.
     
  5. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    like iddee I don't necessarily see bearding as a huge problem. actually it is a sign I look for since I raise a few queen myself and these are excellent hives to shake off some workers for my queen cell starter boxes.

    I would suspect if you are anywhere along the mississippi river drainage that humidity would be a large problem (it always was when I kept bee there)... which just really means that ventilation is of prime concern. generally in regards to ventilation for me (I do not use screen bottom boards) this mean the hives here need ventilation at the top of the stack. since I use migratory type covers, two wood shims (like a carpenter use to shim up doors or windows) placed on one end of the cover or the other works just fine. when I run out of shims I use small sticks picked up on site to do the same thing. you can also accomplish much the same thing by just slightly offsetting the very top box from the one below and create a crack (just wide enough for the worker bees to pass thru) at the front and back of the hive. I don't really think it matter if you slide this box forward or back.

    not so much knowing of your season.... there could be any number of reason why the hive might be removing undeveloped bees. excessive heat can cause developemental stage mortality (which would sound to me to be suspect number one). sometime it can suggest meger resources. if the bees were somewhat to highly hygenic you might actually expect and want them to remove pupae that are varroa infested or diseased.

    lastly, I find a hand held magnifying glass aids in the close inspection of stuff tossed out the front door and will sometime give you a clue as to either what it is or what it ain't.

    guess I got a bit long winded.
     
  6. arkiebee

    arkiebee New Member

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    What I ended up doing was to increase some space on the top super: I took a queen excluder which would create some space on the top and then I had an inner cover that my husband put small "bee space" pieces of wood on the corners to give some more air around the edge - with both placed on the top super and underneath the outer cover that should give the bees some more air space. I took a mirror and flashlight and looked underneath my hive and the screen bottom board was clear of debris. The rain has quit here, but it is still cloudy but not muggy. I just think it was a crowding/humidity problem and the bees are smarter than I am - they were taking care of their own home. I'll check it again this afternoon and see how they are doing - I'll take that off once this dampness subsides and cool weather starts to set in.

    I did notice the larvae and drones - all of the hives are starting to kick the drones out - I watched one being thrown from the edge and I really felt sorry for the big guy. The larvae/pupa was big, so it has to be drones.
     
  7. SlickMick

    SlickMick New Member

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    A bit curious regarding the use of shims at the top cover to ventilate the stack. I am experiencing quite a lot of bearding here at the moment with quite hot weather and colony numbers building up with spring.

    We do have a SHB issue here and so I am reluctant to open the top of the hive in case I allow the SHB uncontrolled entry.

    Has anyone made or used a "cover" of fly mesh to allow the use of shims and also prevent access by the SHB? Would there be any disadvantages to the use of such a cover

    Mick
     
  8. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    I would think at the top Mick that it would quickly become a propolis trap... ;) A "unused" top entrance will be closed up pretty fast.
     
  9. SlickMick

    SlickMick New Member

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    I was thinking more like the screen would be on top of the super and then the outer cover would be propped up over that so that the bees did not have access to the exit as the screen above the super would prevent this

    Mick
     
  10. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    Yeah....I still think this would create a light source, if I'm looking at this right, and the bees would spend much energy/resources trying to plug the screening. But if the benefit of ventilation is needed, then it sounds like a good plan. Maybe harvest some propolis... :thumbsup: