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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi all,

A friend was getting out of the hobby and gave me some hives including one that is active. To complicate things I took them to some property we own that is about an hour away (New Braunfels TX, I'm in Austin) so I don't see them very often.

I went recently and noticed that the bees were covering the front and parts of the sides of the hive box. I wasn't sure what was happening so I didn't bother them by opening it up, but I did see a lot of bees going in and out of the hive. A friend who lives in the area looked in on them and said that they are still bees on the outside.

Any ideas about what is happening and what I need to do? Does it look like they are about to vacate, or need more room?

20190512_165233.jpg
 

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My ideas are they are hot & quickly out growing the one deep. Also known as bearding. Hopefully they are not in swarm prep. Do you have more equipment to add before they swarm?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Fields! I had just run across an article on bearding and I hope that's what it is since they've been like this for a few days.

I have the other two empty hives you can see in the picture. Can I add one of them as a super? (I think that's what it is called.) Just add it on without the bottom to make a second story full of empty frames?
 

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You can add one of those boxes no problem, (like yesterday it appears). Typically around here, you have two of those as "brood boxes", then most use mediums as "supers" for honey production on top of the double brood boxes.

Put the new box on top, then move one frame from each side of the bottom box up to the center of the new box, replace with new frames in the bottom box.

When the hive feels out of room, they will hit the trees. Bearding is pretty normal up here when it's warm, you guys have heat + usually higher humidity so I wouldn't be too alarmed unless they are out of space.
 

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That hive will now either be building queen cells to get ready to swarm, or, thinking about building queen cells to swarm.

Putting another box on is the right move, but by itself, may not stop them swarming, as they have probably already made the decision.

We do not know your experience level, so if all you feel ready to do is add the box, then just do that. But if you feel able, also look through the brood nest for queen cells. If there are some, see if you can find the laying queen, and put her with about 1/2 to 3/4 of the combs and bees into the farthest hive, to start a new colony. And leave the rest of the bees with some queen cells, in the original hive.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My first real interaction with bees, and I'll admit I was super nervous, not sure of my suit or exactly how to do things. But I got it done, including swapping two frames above and below.

Thanks for the advice and instructions!
 

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In the pics the other hives have entrance reducers on, but i can't tell if the alive hive has one. If it does, take it away to give them maximum ventilation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
We do not know your experience level, so if all you feel ready to do is add the box, then just do that.
...if you can find the laying queen, and put her with about 1/2 to 3/4 of the combs and bees into the farthest hive
I'm completely new. Adding the box was a big deal for me, but now that I've overcome the fear of being surrounded by hundreds of bees I will look to see if I can do the split you suggested. I was actually looking up how to do this :)


In the pics the other hives have entrance reducers on, but i can't tell if the alive hive has one. If it does, take it away to give them maximum ventilation.
It does have a reducer, I'll take that out.


Also, I would move a few frames from the occupied box into the new box to get the bees to recognize the new space faster.
I moved two full frames, bees and all, to the top and two empties to the bottom.


Thank you to everyone who answered, I really appreciate it!
 

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I had a queen land on the outside of one of my hives. To me that looks like a swarm clustered around a queen as the bee's look like they're going across 2 hives. Mine stayed there for a week. Bearding is caused by temps and humidity. I'd say if they stayed there for several days, it's not bearding.
 
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