Colony too big or not? Swarming in September? Bearding at night
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  1. #1
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    Jun 2016
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    Default Colony too big or not? Swarming in September? Bearding at night

    Good day,

    In mid-June this year I made a split from my overwintered colony. By the end of July I already had 3 full boxes (8 frame Lang) on that new split.

    Two weeks ago I took the upper box off - it was full of honey (just as the second box is). I extracted the honey and then installed the box back separating it from the second level with a cloth and a shallow box - for the bees to dry out the frames.

    I did exactly the same with my other hive.

    In the past too weeks we've been having very warm and sunny weather. During this time especially after giving them wet frames I noticed that the split had a lot of activity. I always have a few dozen bees on the board as oposed to a dozen in the other hive. They're behaving like it's July. No bearding though.

    Yesterday, I removed the frames. They seemed to have starting to build on some of them. Some though were dried. Since there were too many bees and some frames had some honey I decided not to take the frames completely away so I left the box a few feet away from the hive.

    Bees from that split got all excited as if they were swarming. So I decided I would take care of the box early morining when the bees would all have gone home...

    This early morning I went to the box, but I saw that

    (a) a lot the bees didn't go home...
    (b) there was bearding on the hive.

    Nothing of that sort is happening with the other hive.



    What is going on? What should I do?

    Thanks,

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
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    Bergen County, NJ
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    Default Re: Colony too big or not? Swarming in September? Bearding at night

    I am lost about the cloth / shallow setup. But two things to watch out for

    * Robbing
    * Queen in the box that you moved aside

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Default Re: Colony too big or not? Swarming in September? Bearding at night

    Thank you for responding.

    The cloth shallow setup is as follows:
    on top of the second full body I put a cloth (I use cloth instead of the inner cover) with it corner open - basically bees can freely go beyond the cloth. Then on top of that I put a shallow body to provide some space, then on top of that I put a full box with wet frames.

    So the cloth is their "roof" the limits of the hive itself, the shallow body - is some extra space so they don't think that there frames on top is part of the hive.

    You mentionned Robbing. Both of my hives are full or 90% full. And both are strong. Who will be robbing who in this case?
    What do bees do if there is still flow (or feed) yet their stores are full and they're all ready for winter?

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
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    Bergen County, NJ
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    907

    Default Re: Colony too big or not? Swarming in September? Bearding at night

    So I assume the open corner of the cloth is only accessible from inside the hive. When you set the top box aside, did you shake all bees out into the old hive ? Robbing could be done by any bees in the flight distance of your hives.

    And I have seen hives rob feed & frames when they are set in open, even when their own hive super are full. For them its just more food available to gather and try to store.

    I would dump all the bees from the box into its original hive and get it out there first (or give it back if you think nectar flow is still on and heavy). Then I would inspect the hive to see if there are any swarm preps - how does brood nest look ? Is it getting backfilled heavily, are there swarm cells anywhere etc.

    More often than not, I do see hives doing orientation flights right after inspections, weather permitting. So there is that for all that excitement.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
    Location
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    Default Re: Colony too big or not? Swarming in September? Bearding at night

    Yes, the upper level with we frames is only accessible from inside the hive. Basically, it's like if I had a feeder on top.

    As to your suggestion of giving them the frames back. The problem is that they start building and storing honey in some of them. Basically, they've dried up most of them but they seem to have started storing in others. Do I just install the third body to see if they continue filling it and then right before wrapping take all the extras away? But there will likely be a lot of uncapped honey... What do I do with that?

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
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    907

    Default Re: Colony too big or not? Swarming in September? Bearding at night

    Quote Originally Posted by fimine View Post
    Yes, the upper level with we frames is only accessible from inside the hive. Basically, it's like if I had a feeder on top.

    As to your suggestion of giving them the frames back. The problem is that they start building and storing honey in some of them. Basically, they've dried up most of them but they seem to have started storing in others. Do I just install the third body to see if they continue filling it and then right before wrapping take all the extras away? But there will likely be a lot of uncapped honey... What do I do with that?
    If I see flow still on and they need room, I would give them room. Once its settled, and right before you do final prep for winter, I would inspect 2nd and 3rd box, move any uncapped into second box and take away capped frames if there is enough left. If your local beeks use three boxes for winter, then nothing special to do.

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