Unexpected Swarming?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Dbure, Jul 21, 2012.

  1. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Please bear with me if you can. Explaining all of this may take a few minutes. :oops: Today my husband and I went out to remove some frames of honey from one of our hives and afterward something happened that makes me believe I am seeing the hive getting ready to swarm. When we went out this morning there were quite a few bees already at the lower and upper entrances, but no more than what I might see when the hive is bearding. Yesterday it rained and the humidity levels were a little elevated and another hive of similar population was doing about the same.


    This hive consisted of in order from bottom to top: two deep brood boxes, a queen excluder, an upper entrance, a deep honey super and a screened ventilated inner cover with roof on top. The upper super was completely filled and capped with honey with the exception of one frame that was still partially uncapped. That frame was left in place and the rest of the frames were pulled. In their place we added back drawn comb from which we had extracted honey about a week ago. In addition, we pulled a few capped frames of honey from the middle (brood) box and replaced them with older drawn comb.


    Upon opening this hive and removing the capped frames my husband noticed that they had built comb between the bottom of the frames past the space where the upper entrance was and through the excluder, attaching it to what was below. He had noticed this to be a problem on the last hive we pulled honey from and concluded that the upper entrance was in the wrong spot, allowing too much space. Knowing this, he moved the entrance up to the top and it now sits under the screened inner cover.


    The problem I am seeing is that it appears that a huge majority of the bees are now outside of the hive and there is a large ball of bees clinging to the upper entrance. The whole front of the bottom brood box and part of the side of the hive is covered in bees. The mass at the top looks like a swarm woould, and the bees are clustered on top of one another in a large ball. When I went back a few minutes ago and looked under the roof, the whole bottom side of the screened inner cover was a solid layer of bees which could not be seen through. I assume the super is now filled itself with bees.

    Could it just be that they are finding all the empty drawn out comb and cleaning it up? My fear is that the hive is wanting to swarm. Having so many bees on the exterior concerns me since I know there is plenty of room now on the inside. There was capped brood in the middle box where the queen has been laying. Is it possible the queen somehow got dropped from a frame and has crawled back up to the upper entrance and gone inside. What would be your advice on handling the hive. Right now I don't think I can do much with the upper super so full. Should a let it sort things out on its own, or do I stand a chance of losing half the hive in a swarm? :confused:
     
  2. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    I dont think they are getting ready to swarm sounds like bearding. Did you look for swarm cells. I have always been told when they build comb between the upper and lower frames and store honey in that area. They ran out of room to store and another super could have been added. :thumbsup:
     

  3. kebee

    kebee Active Member

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    My hive did the same thing when I took the honey off and put the frams back in for them to clean up, I was thinking they were giving the bees that did this room to move around with the honey to other frames or they were out in number to pervent robbing of the left over honey in the hive. This lasted for 3 days and now all is back to normal.

    kebee
     
  4. Dbure

    Dbure New Member

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    Thanks Riverrat and Kebee. I know it is hard to understand without pictures. I'd go back out and take some if it were not so blasting hot. I have seen the hives beard when it is this hot, but never like this. That is why I was wondering if they were getting ready to swarm. They are all still out there and it seemed to grow even worse by the minute. It appears the whole lot of them have decided to move out to the exterior.

    I removed some frames of honey from a couple of my other hives about a week ago and put emptied drawn out comb frames back in their places and this did not happen. The only thing I can maybe have a theory on is that with it being this hot and the replacement frames put in that honey was extracted from may be putting a larger amount of moisture in the hive and they are trying to get it out. Maybe that sounds silly, but I know that removing humidity inside is a key component to it's operation. If the extraction leaves some honey that they can clean up, maybe that also puts off humidity.:dontknow:

    I hope that they will all decide to move back in soon. It is suppose to rain here again tonight. A good downpour may eliminate the problem in a way I'd rather not have.