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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm brand new and went to do my queen check today. I tried to brush a clump of bees out of the way and they seemed to actually be stuck together. I saw an actual strand of goo when a bee separated from the clump. It seemed to be like this in both my hives. Also in one hive there were clear jelly-like clumps which I am assuming are from the sugar water feeder leaking. My question is if my feeder (a 1 gallon bucket with a few small holes poked in the lid and then turned upside down over the inner cover hole) is leaking and if that is why the bees are sticky? Or is this normal? In all the videos I watch it seems like the bees brush relatively easy and aren't glued together. I'm wondering if this is harmful to the bees. One note they are building a lot of wax already and they have hardly used any so I am wondering if I should get rid of the feeders all together.
 

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No, it is not normal for your bees to be sticking together and, if they are having a feeder drip on them, that's not good for them. The upside down bucket or jar feeders can leak with rapid changes in barometric pressure or temperature. If you need to feed, some of the other hive top feeders or internal frame types are not so bad.
 

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i'd take off the feeder and let them clean up the mess. might want to switch to just a mason jar with a cut out through the inner cover towards the rear of the colony. so if there is any leaking its not smack in the middle of the brood nest. hopefully your queen wasn't in there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I went back and looked at some of my pictures, they might have been festooning. They were more tightly clumped together than the example picture for that website, but I did see a picture of mine where one bee on the clump was hanging by a leg. Could the gooey substance I saw when the bees pulled apart be wax? I know for sure one feeder was leaking because of the clear jelly clumps but the other hive looked fine. Both had sticky clumps of bees... Probably should just switch feeders
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm wondering if I do need to feed. The buckets were still practically full (we weighed them) and they seem to be doing a lot of foraging and wax building. We have a stretch of good weather forecast but they are package bees and I am using foundation-less frames and I've heard you should feed for at least a month.
 

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Festooning is a technique sued by the bees when doing comb construction. the cling to one another creating a sort of cobweb to one another. This can be seen quite frequently in top bar hives or hives with foundationless frames. but occurs in all hive.
 

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That looks normal from what I can see. It's the gooey thing you described that is concerning. If you are not using foundation in your frames you will see this when you pull the frames. I still recommend taking off the feeder and see if the gooey goes away.
 

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I had something similar in my hive top feeder. At first I thought the queen had moved up. I spread the mass and they were sitting on top of some dead bees that had drowned in the feeder. Could well be your feeder is leaking.
 
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