What am I seeing?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by atnick11, Oct 12, 2015.

  1. atnick11

    atnick11 New Member

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    So the other day I did my final inspection and started preparing the hive for winter. A few minutes after I had finished I noticed I put my feeder rim on upside down. I re opened the hive and saw that the bees had clustered on the inner cover..looked almost like a swarm cluster, bees clinging to each other etc..
    I knocked them down (gently) and re checked again a day or two later. Still had a cluster but this time it was a baseball sized cluster. Can any one tell me what this behavior is? I am a first year beekeeper up in Maine..
     
  2. kebee

    kebee Active Member

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    I would not get them out of cluster for they are probity covering the brood in the hive for it may be to cool them and you could cause them to lose some baby bees, I would never disturb a cluster in the hive. Oh and welcome to the forum.

    ‚ÄčKen
     

  3. atnick11

    atnick11 New Member

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    The cluster was attached to the inner cover..not on comb, or down in the hive. Pretty strange. I checked to see if they were trying to build comb on the cover but there wasn't any.
     
  4. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    A queen in the center of that cluster maybe instead of down in the comb? You may have a 2 queen hive.
     
  5. atnick11

    atnick11 New Member

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    That's what I thought. I looked for a queen in the cluster..didn't see one. I am doing my final winter prep this week. I'll see if they are still doing it and try to get a picture.
     
  6. atnick11

    atnick11 New Member

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    They have really massed on the inner cover now...not sure what to do. I know they will starve if they stay up there..
     
  7. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Move the clump from the inner cover into a nuc with a couple of frames of brood and food and see what they do. That i what I would do. Put the nuc in a garage or shed or between established hives for a windblock and plug it up so they stay inside and don't go out and freeze, check in 2 days? Now, I am in Texas and about to move a big hive down into a stacked nuc. But I am in Texas. It could freeze here within 2 weeks but probably 3 to 4. When you do open it, if you do, use a really small entrance reducer to prevent robbing and to keep them in, If you find freshly laid brood when you check on it, consider making them an observation hive this winter
     
  8. LizzeB

    LizzeB New Member

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    I would not move them to a nuc with winter coming in Maine. Never mind if there is a queen in the cluster. With you making some changes to the upper top of the hive they may be gathering to propolus it up to do there own winterizing. Don't worry if multi queen......I read that they estimate almost 80% of the colonies un-manned are multi-queened. Make sure they have enough higher ventilation, or they will have too much condensation!
     
  9. LizzeB

    LizzeB New Member

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    If that doesn't pacify you, just switch inner covers to a different one......you will be taking that cluster pherimone away from them. Just be sure to give them a used one with plenty of propolus on it for winter!
     
  10. atnick11

    atnick11 New Member

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    Thanks for all the advice everyone! I talked with my bee guy up here and he said that they should move down on their own. I opened the top to take a picture and saw that they had made a small amount of comb..which I removed. I am feeding them and they are still taking in a feeder full (entrance) a day. I'm hoping when they stop feeding they will go back down.
     
  11. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    It's too late to be feeding syrup in Maine. You will have big moisture problems this winter.
     
  12. atnick11

    atnick11 New Member

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    Damn..hopefully the Homasote board I put under my outer cover will help.
     
  13. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    make sure you have an upper entrance for moisture to escape.
     
  14. atnick11

    atnick11 New Member

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    Yes I do. Thanks. I have also left the screen bottom board on and placed hay bales near the base (cinder blocks) for a wind break..
     
  15. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    I have not had good luck with screened bottom boards but others swear by them. Good luck!
     
  16. Guba

    Guba New Member

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    Why would that be?
     
  17. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    Not really sure but believe that in this northern climate bees won't build on the lower part of the frames and it seems to reduce brood area for me. I tried a few. I also had lower winter survival with them. I use solid bottom boards exclusively now. But others in my area still use them. I saw no advantage in mite counts with them either, which was the impetus for me to try them.
     
  18. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    I had an unusually cold winter last year and did not get sticky boards into my screened bottom boards early enough, I believe it did not help my hives to get that cold. BUT my hive stands are 18 inches off the ground and not solid, they are pipe stands so the wind really can ventilate in the heat, but also in the winter. I have sticky boards in now for mite counts during OA treatment, and I will be putting slightly ventilated sticky boards in for the winter, to help prevent moisture buildup without chilling the bees. I think the best winter I have had that is what I did
     
  19. Guba

    Guba New Member

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    My last 2 winters were pretty harsh (below -20*F), I had a screened hive bottom and a gap between hive bodies. Both times my hive came through the winter, although the first winter they barely made it (more days -20*F). I'm now a firm believer in ventilating.
     
  20. atnick11

    atnick11 New Member

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    I have left my screen bottom board on. My hive is up on cinder blocks, I put hay bales around the base and cinder blocks to break the wind..I'm hoping this works. This is my first year with a hive and so far has gone pretty well other than the fact that the bees have clustered up on the inner cover. The second deep is full of honey so if they go back down they should have enough to get through the winter.