What's this? Cluster under hive.

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Intheswamp, Apr 18, 2012.

  1. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    Ok, it was dark when I came in last night so I didn't check on the bees. We had some rain yesterday afternoon and more last night/this morning. I walked down to the bees this morning (had rained just a short while prior) and found this cluster hanging under my strongest hive. Cantalope size. I kind of figure they may have been there since yesterday afternoon....weather hasn't been really flying weather this morning but might be clearing up some now. Saturday will be two weeks since I did an inspection in this hive. It had a super on top that was just getting a good bit of whitening on the foundation...the super below that was about 80-90 percent drawn and a good bit of filling going on. Crowded? I'll bring a super home this evening and check it out. This is the first time I've experienced this. Thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Ed

    [​IMG]
     
  2. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    It doesn't appear to be bearding. Did this hive swarm earlier or could you have missed the prime? Based on the picture, I would guess this is a secondary swarm that didn't go very far to bivouac.

    I'd hive it in a nuc near the parent hive and see if they either drift back, or set up shop...
     

  3. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    hi ed,
    looks to me like you have a hive getting ready to swarm. too many bees bearded up not attending to hive duties. let us know later after you check that hive with your findings.
     
  4. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    A still photo doesn't show what is actually happening too well but I've never seen them cluster like that when building to a swarm though... The times I've seen hive swarm (only twice mind you. They were already in flight by the time I noticed), for the most part, they just seemed to pour out of the hive into flight (seemed very agitated), then cluster up somewhere nearby.

    Are the bees that are going in and out of the parent hive paying any attention to them? Does their behavior seem normal or are they still exiting in mass?

    If the house bees are ignoring them, I'd box them up before they find somewhere else they'd like to be. Worst case (no queen exit yet), they'd drift back to the parent hive and swarm again in a couple of days.
     
  5. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    It looks like bearding to me. Does that hive have two brood boxes? If not, maybe you should add one. Or maybe if you add an upper ventilation opening they won't get so hot and congested.
     
  6. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    check the ball of bees for a queen. Im wondering if the hive swarmed and the new queen got confused on the mating flight ending up under the screened bottom board. Or for one reason or another the queen ended up outside the hive and under the screened bottom board. I have seen this happen before. Usually they will start building comb on the bottom side of the screened bottom board if the queen is there
     
  7. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    pturley, I believe this hive did swarm...either last Friday or possibly two weeks ago. This Saturday will be two weeks since last inspection...the time I had last Saturday was spent trying to convince the last swarm to take up residence in a new hive<groan> so I (the newbee) haven't determined where that swarm came from...it could be an afterswarm from that hive...could be a virgin coming back from a mating flight yesterday missed her landing. ??

    I'll look into getting them in a box...hope they stay put till this afternoon! :beg:

    I feel that these bees have been there since *sometime* yesterday being as the weather had not been conducive to them flying this morning prior to me checking them.

    As for activity (I'm at work going by memory)... It had just quit raining probably 20-30 minutes before I found them clustered. Only a few bees were movng around on the porch which was about the same activity for the other hives. Definitely no mass exodus happening. There was slow movement on the surface of the cluster. Very, very few bees were flying at that time.

    Wx conditions... Temperature was around 65F and damp. Mild breeze. Sun peaking from behind the clouds sporadically.

    This colony consists of a 10-frame deep an two 8-frame mediums. Last inspection the top medium had a good bit of whitening to the comb...lower medium was 80-90 percent drawn as earlier stated with a good bit of honey/nectar stores.

    Ventilation consists of the porter bee escape hole and a 70mm round hole in the inner cover (both screened over with #8 mesh). The inner cover doesn't have a slot cut into it's edge so I a small piece of 1/4" wood between the top edge of the inner cover and the telescoping cover...which probably gives better ventilation than a slot in the edge of the inner cover.(??)

    riverrat, now I've got to ask...how should I go about looking for the queen in that ball of bees? I'm just an innocent newbee...<gulp> I wouldn't think smoking them would be the right move...are they docile like a swarm when they're clustering like this? Do I need a increase my life insurance policy before looking for the queen?:shock:

    Dog gone it...this was my strongest hive that I figured I might get some honey from this first year!!!!<sigh>

    Thanks for ya'll's help!
    Ed
     
  8. pturley

    pturley New Member

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    Just because they swarmed doesn't mean you couldn't still get a good harvest. A couple of good nectar flows and you could be in a surplus quicker than you think.

    Another option if they don't build back up quickly enough: If you nuc them and they settle in nicely, let them build out to a single deep, then you could always choose which queen is better. Pinch the lesser of the two (or the queen from the more tempermental hive) and do a newspaper combine once "swarm season" is over.

    You might also think about adding another brood box. I wouldn't think it is need for overwintering in your area but a double-deep, or three medium brood box is a much more common set-up. (This is usually for good reason BTW! Because it works!).

    If it is a misguided virgin, inspect both nuc and parent hive frequently for brood over the next week or two... Make sure BOTH are queen-right or you'll be doing that combine very, very soon!
     
  9. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    [​IMG]

    Ed, I had a beard hanging off my little 5 frame nuc box a few weeks ago in similar weather.
    It was a smaller amount than yours, but it looked much the same:
    nucs-sold-March-2012_2.jpg

    It was just a bunch of workers lounging under their hive, since the nuc was a bit crowded.
    It's amazing how they chain their leg hooks together to hang as a mass.
    See if they go back into the hive after dark- go out with a flashlight.

    No harm in looking for a queen in them, I suppose. Wear a veil and move slowly, but they will probably be gentle.
     
  10. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    intheswamp said:
    "riverrat, now I've got to ask...how should I go about looking for the queen in that ball of bees? I'm just an innocent newbee...<gulp> I wouldn't think smoking them would be the right move...are they docile like a swarm when they're clustering like this? Do I need a increase my life insurance policy before looking for the queen?"

    1, increase your life insurance policy :lol:
    2. check the hive first and see what’s going on in there
    3. you will be able to determine if it is a swarm or bearding, but I think riverrat is right, just my very small HO
    4. if it is a swarm or afterswarm, and depending on what’s going on in your box, either put them back in there or start a nuc
    5. bearding, all of the above except 4, at night they will retreat to the hive, put another deep or super on to relieve any congestion.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
  11. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    That'll teach you to remove their briar patch. :D

    Likely an after swarm. Place them in a nuc for a week or two, then sell, combine, or let grow.
     
  12. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    If you scoop the ball up and put it in a little nuc with some frames, it'll either start building there if it has a queen, or they'll just be foragers bearding in which case they'll leave the nuc the next day and return to the main hive.
     
  13. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    Well, there ain't no cluster under there this evening...gone. Lots of activity in front of the hive, lots of bees flying....from all the colonies. Looks like they're making the best of the clearing weather this afternoon...got two days of it coming then rain again. Anyhow, no sign of the cluster.

    pturley, I'll be checking them tomorrow morning to see if they need more room/supers. That may be very well what's happening as I think I've had several days of young nurse bees orienting...seems like an explosion of bees on my two big hives. The next biggest hive seems to be coming along, too. I think I'll make some honey, I think I've already got close to two supers drawn and mostly filled. :smile:

    Omie, it looked similar to your beard...just bigger, I guess. What has me puzzled is that I'd almost bet that this cluster was there overnight and rode out some rain showers...a pretty good one this morning, too. Yelp, they went *somewhere* before I got home. It is neat the way they festoon together. One of the swarms I caught (from my own hives :|) I moved from the original trap hive that I started to put them in to a double 8-frame medium stack. They were already festooning on the frames...it was really neat to see them hanging like that...and I was surprised at the weight of them!

    Well riverbee, they went somewhere...just don't know for sure where.

    Ed
     
  14. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    But Iddee, I even sat a chair out there for'em to sit on!!! I can't help it if I hauled all them briars out in my...er, uh, fingers!!!

    Well, they high-tailed it to somewhere. Lot's of activity around the hive this evening. I'm going to peak in the hive tomorrow...don't know if I'll have time to go to the bottom deep or not...I've got a couple of supers ready if any of the hives need'em.

    Ed
     
  15. Intheswamp

    Intheswamp New Member

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    Wow, that's so simple. Thanks, Omie, I'll remember that!!!

    Ed
     
  16. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Ed, the beard I took a photo of actually got larger a few hours later, and they rode out some cool rain showers too, before they slowly went back into that nuc after dark. I thought it was odd too, but definitely wasn't a swarm! They were just outgrowing their nuc in March.

    Of course I could be wrong too and yours might be a swarm- never say never! Just my hunch. :smile:
     
  17. Medic1259

    Medic1259 New Member

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    Newbie Question... Whats a Beard ( I know hair on a face..)
     
  18. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    Even without shaving, Omie's beard will stay shorter than yours. :rolling:

    Intheswamp, you were begging for a comment on that one--I'm sure other's who read your comparing beards with Omie will have better responses than mine.
     
  19. bamabww

    bamabww New Member

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    I'll bet it's just congestion, but I'm a newbee also. I've seen this on a hive before and when i questioned a local, older, beekeep about it, he made several of the suggestions made above but said to sat out there by the hive after dark and see if they go back in the hive. Well I did and they did.

    He, knowing my inexperience, suggested that I either remove my queen excluder or turn it sideways and if the honey super had 7 or 8 frames capped, to add another super or remove the capped frames and add some new ones in their place.

    I found exactly what he said, the bees in just a few days had packed out the honey super. I changed out the super and my ball of bees never reappeared. Good luck.
     
  20. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    And you disrupt my zither practice for this?


    bearded lady clavichord.jpg