View Full Version : Clustering at Entrance
07-19-2002, 08:33 PM
My bees are clustering on the outside of the entrance, sometimes hanging from the bottom board and extending up the front of the bottom brood box. I have a screen bottom and a tray feeder on top and I keep the top cover propped open to allow for ventilation. The second brood box is nearly drawn out with some brood in it and I have added a third one in the hopes of increasing the size of the colony for a spring split. I am feeding about a quart every other day.
Is this normal for what seems to be, a large number of bees to cluster at the entrance and up the side of the bottom hive box? After placing the third brood box, the number of bees clustering has decreased but still a significant number. I keep a water supply nearby and only get a late afternoon sun on the hive. Should I drill a top entrance in the top brood box?
Also notice bees of different size at the entrance, some of the larger ones ( they don't appear to be drones) are comming and going as though foraging. Am I just seeing bees of different ages, or is this robbing? Lots of activity at the entrance, bees comming and going. I inspected the other day and things look good, no queen cells, lots of honey stores, some pollen stores and capped brood.
Is what I am seeing normal? Thanks for staying with this post, and for any help and comments.
07-20-2002, 04:45 AM
The colony sounds crowded. I know you added a third box but bees go by usable combs NOT volume of room available. You need to pyrimid up. Take the undrawn foundations in the second box and put in the center of the bottom box. Every other one fashion. Take two combs of brood from the bottom and place in the center of the third box. This should expand the broodnest. If you don't expand the brood nest the bees may be content to stay where they are.
Kevin S. Lunsford
07-20-2002, 10:46 AM
What you have is a normal colony. When it gets hot and humid bees will form a "bee beard" on the outside of the hive. Your primary nectar flow is over, now you have a lot of old girls with nothing to do but stay home. These will soon die off. Nothing needs to bee done to your hive. Make your split next spring. Trying to force extra brood now will not cause a bigger winter cluster that can be split later. Feed your colony early in spring and make your split then.
07-20-2002, 01:03 PM
Thanks for the info. One more question, should I continue to feed now through to winter? They have about 10 frames of foundation to draw out. Just one more!, should I scrape the burr comb off the bottom of the frames? It seems they keep building there anyhow and I'd rather have them put their eforts into the foundation. True??
I inspected today, bees are in the top now. I moved frames from the bottom to the middle and from the middle to the top. Lots of honey about half of it is capped, not as much brood as I expected but I did see larvae. The queen however escaped my novice eye. Thanks for the help!
That colony sounds crowded. If they are building on the bottom, they are getting to swarm mode. I would pyrimid up, and give them more room. I have seen swarms in PA in september, and it could happen. Give them more comb to use by expanding the nest, like Clay said.
Kevin S. Lunsford
07-21-2002, 12:38 AM
Look for queen cells in about a week in your top (3rd.) hive body. Also your going to have to feed a LOT to get comb to be drawn with no nectar flow, and to fill your top hive body with "honey". Like I said it is NORMAL for bees to cluster on a hot day. This is NOT swarming. If you still want to have 3 hive bodies then put your honey frames in the TOP where they should bee. Then "checker board" your brood frames in the bottom two. Now what you SHOULD do is put your colony back the way is was to start. Two hive bodies with honey above and brood below-this is what you want to over winter. It is the standard colony for your area. Expand and split next spring.
07-21-2002, 04:37 AM
One more question, should I continue to feed now through to winter?
If you have a flow on don't feed as much, if no flow then feed.
should I scrape the burr comb off the bottom of the frames?
If you want. They may replace the burr comb if the crowding isn't taken care of. Save the wax don't toss it on the ground.
It seems they keep building there anyhow and I'd rather have them put their eforts into the foundation.
Yes they will until the crowding is relieved. If you put the foundations in the center of the broodnest between capped frames of brood they will probably draw half the frame overnight. Keep repeating this till all the frames are drawn.
Picture a oblong sphere in your mind which is the broodnest. Then pollen and honey to the sides and and above the cluster. Just make sure the colony is properly arranged for winter since you will be juggling frames about. You may need to move a few around when the combs are drawn. Do you have a strong fall flow?
07-22-2002, 04:29 PM
Clay, Kevin, Hook
Thanks all for the help, I'm not sure of the fall flow in south west WV but I will keep feeding until the frames are drawn. Hopefully the comb will be drawn by the time the fall flow starts and there will be enough honey for the winter.
07-26-2002, 06:24 PM
My bees have been doing the same thing for the past couple of weeks. I ordered some screened bottom boards and put them on today. No clustering today. In this area, I think it's the heat.