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  1. #1
    chrismbm Guest

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    This is our 1st year, so we don't know much. We've noticed over the past week that in the a.m., their is a large number of bees hanging off the front of the hive entrance in "beard" shapes. What does this mean? Being inexperienced, I'm thinking that it might mean they're getting ready to swarm, but I don't want to do anything stupid. Can anyone help?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Central Square, NY, Oswego County
    Posts
    814

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    The population of the hive is getting close to max now. The hive would like some room and I bet its hot and muggy. Small beards are nothing to worry about. Small being 3-6 inches hanging down. It also means the hive is warm and needs to cool off. I would slide the second supper back about 1/4 - 1/2 inch so that they can get some more air. This will also relieve congestion in the entrance and give the field force another place to get into the hive.
    Dan

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
    Posts
    6,081

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    Crack the top or put a stick under the lid to improve ventalation. If this helps its probably a overcrowding/heating problem.
    If this does not help, and the bees still beard, along with an unusual non-active pattern, that being they really stopped working although others hives are still collecting, then its an indication of swarm preparation. It may be late in the season but it will still occurr.

    As a beekeeper, I would suggest you to put on your suit, lift up each box to expose the bottom of the frames and look for swarm cells. Know whats going on inside the hives.

  4. #4
    chrismbm Guest

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    Thanks so much for your input. Dan, the beards are about 3 - 6 inches and there are only two of them. I don't know if I'm more terrified now that I have your opinions. Isn't unusual that a new hive (we started our beekeeping lessons in late April and actually brought our bees home to our hive on May 23rd) would populate so quickly? Our girls do have about 40 acres of clover right around here to feed off of, so maybe it's not crazy.

    For ventilation, we've drilled two nickel sized holes in the honey supers, and our bee teacher told us to slide the lid back about an inch or so. The actual hive is located in an old building which was used in gathering milk when the farm was a working farm. It's under trees which also help to keep the heat down.

    Sorry to be rambling. We went to check the honey production on Sunday, and my husband wanted to move the entire hive forward to enable him to move the lid back a little further. He said he thought it must weigh about 100 pounds - could this be right?

    Is it too late in the season to "split the hive"? I'm worried that I'll weaken the two this late in the season.

    Help!

    Thanks so much,

    Chris

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,453

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    >Thanks so much for your input. Dan, the beards are about 3 - 6 inches and there are only two of them. I don't know if I'm more terrified now that I have your opinions.

    It doesn't mean they ARE going to swarm. It does mean they are crowded and hot and you need to add room and/or ventilation. But crowding and heat sometimes set off swarming. I agree, I'd take a look at the bottoms of the frames and then you'll KNOW what's going on.

    >Isn't unusual that a new hive (we started our beekeeping lessons in late April and actually brought our bees home to our hive on May 23rd) would populate so quickly?

    Not at all. Somtimes they boom and sometimes they don't. I had two packages boom and swarm this year. Both in horizontal hives, which I think may be part of the reason. I've started putting more empty frames in the middle of the brood nest for these horizontal hives.

    >Our girls do have about 40 acres of clover right around here to feed off of, so maybe it's not crazy.

    Not it's not. That's ideal forage.

    >For ventilation, we've drilled two nickel sized holes in the honey supers, and our bee teacher told us to slide the lid back about an inch or so. The actual hive is located in an old building which was used in gathering milk when the farm was a working farm. It's under trees which also help to keep the heat down.

    The holes will help. Sliding the lid back will help. Putting a stick under the inner cover will help. An open SBB will help. Empty frames in the brood nest will help. Plenty of room in supers wil help.

    >Sorry to be rambling. We went to check the honey production on Sunday, and my husband wanted to move the entire hive forward to enable him to move the lid back a little further. He said he thought it must weigh about 100 pounds - could this be right?

    Certainly. I've had hives that were three full deeps and five full mediums. I'm sure they weighed 600 pounds.

    >Is it too late in the season to "split the hive"? I'm worried that I'll weaken the two this late in the season.

    You can always recombine in the fall if they don't take off. Not it's not too late. I'd do an even split this time of year so both will be reasonably strong.

    How may boxes (and what size boxes) of brood do you have?


  6. #6
    chrismbm Guest

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    Dear Michael:

    Thanks so much for your valuable insights and knowledge. I really appreciate your detailed response! I was speaking with one of my beekeeping mentors and mentioned I was looking for help on this site. He said "Boy I'd love to get him out here to speak to our association". Your reputation is well known!

    As far as the boxes, I'm not sure how to answer you. We have two 9 5/8" hive bodies and two 6 5/8" supers. Now that my husband is home, we're going out to inspect. If there are swarm cells, we're going to split them, if not, we're going to add another hive body in between the existing two (if we see it is necessary).

    Thank you and all for being a superb resource for sound information!

    Chris

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,453

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    >Thanks so much for your valuable insights and knowledge. I really appreciate your detailed response! I was speaking with one of my beekeeping mentors and mentioned I was looking for help on this site. He said "Boy I'd love to get him out here to speak to our association". Your reputation is well known!

    Wow! Didn't know I was famous. I've never been shy about public speaking.

    >As far as the boxes, I'm not sure how to answer you. We have two 9 5/8" hive bodies and two 6 5/8" supers.

    Then you did answer me. Are they mostly full? If they are that should weigh about 210 pounds full of brood and honey.

    That's enough to do a split if you want.

    >Now that my husband is home, we're going out to inspect. If there are swarm cells, we're going to split them, if not, we're going to add another hive body in between the existing two (if we see it is necessary).

    I think that's a good plan. I probably wouldn't split them this time of year without a reason. Sounds like a healthy hive to go into witner with, but if they are about to swarm I'd try to beat them to the punch.

    >Thank you and all for being a superb resource for sound information!

    It's all my opinion. I'm sure there are other opinons. But you're welcome.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Lake county, Indiana 46408-4109
    Posts
    3,545

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    Hey Michael

    She realy knows how to make a fellow feel good don`t she.

  9. #9
    chrismbm Guest

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    Dear Michael and Honeyman:

    We just got back in and everything looks great! Didn't see any swarm cells, there is a lot of honey in the first super and they are starting to work in the second.

    We took Honeyman's advice and put another hive body in between the two full hive bodies. I think they will be much happier now.

    Thanks again for all of your help and support - being new at this, I truly appreciate being able to pick up the phone or use this forum to get knowledgeable advice.

    Best regards,

    Chris

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