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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am a first time bee keeper, and am having trouble understanding what and why my bees are acting in this manor.

I added a second brood chamber (10 frame deep) when the hive had the first one all drawn except for one frame. (5 foundation frames from the nuc I purchased and 5 foundation-less frames I added when installing the nuc). I inspected the hive today and was surprised as to what I was seeing.

For the last few days bees have been clustering on the entrance and even forming fist size clusters hanging off the bottom of the hive. My hive is on a stand about 4ft off the ground.

View attachment 11963

This was the early clustering. They have now begun to cover the entire angled board was well as hang off the front edge.

When I opened the top brood chamber all but 1 frame had been drawn. Each frame was mostly filled with uncapped honey and pollen with a few areas with capped honey. No brood was observed.

The bottom brood chamber had all frames fully drawn with some dark crusty looking stuff halfway deep in most cells. One or two frames had a nice brood pattern but that was it. The hive was absolutely packed full of bees. I did see uncapped eggs(or larvae not sure with terminology). 3 frames were still from the original nuc (foundation frames) and they seemed to not be being used at all. The other two foundation frames were moved up to the top brood chamber when I added it.

Should I add a honey super? Should I switch the top and bottom deep brood chambers to get the queen to lay in both areas? Do I need to get rid of the original 5 frames from the nuc and give them only foundation-less frames at this point? I have never looked for the queen, and try to get in and out of the hive as fast as possible. I assume I have a laying queen based solely on the fact I see a limited amount of capped brood and uncapped larvae? But the very limited sign of brood worries me. Again, the hive seems to be absolutely packed full of bees so I just don't know what to think.

Please help! Honey harvest is not important to me, as I started this bee hive purely out of a fascination of insects. I am planning on adding two hives next year, but would like to do everything possible to make sure this hive gets through the winter! I have thought about using the nuc box and splitting this one, to create a second hive but that seems complicated. I have a dozen irons in the fire and my lack of knowledge on beekeeping has caused this to be more stressful than I had imagined.
 

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your attachment won't open ary, but it sounds exactly what my bees have been doing for about a week now. they hang outside to keep it from getting too hot in the hive. around here it usually means the flow is winding down and not much more comb gets drawn until next year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
squarepeg- maybe this will work http://postimg.org/image/wlz98f8xp/ the clustering now covers that entire bottom angled part to the entrance and the bees are hanging off the edges

bee whisper - there were white looking larvae/fresh egg in probably 20% of the cells on maybe 3 frames in the bottom deep 10 frame super. Again, I am not sure what I am looking at as I inspect. On these frames with the white looking egg/larvae I also see approx 30-40% capped brood. Only 3-5 frames in the bottom deep box seem to be being used by the queen but like i said, the hive is FULL of bees. maybe I just don't know what I am looking at.
 

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From what I am reading you have bearding on the front because heat inside the hive, Replace the bottom board with a screened bottom board.The next problem is to much honey,take 3 or 4 frames out an replace empty frames of foundation give them something to do.
 

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First, I am a first year beekeeper. I wanted to chime in to tell you that this looks like one of my hives in the afternoon. I am guessing by reading here on Beesource that it
is a ventilation issue and the bees are just "chillin' ". (Or taking a break)
 

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Looks normal to me. [edit] xxxx No bees fanning -- so heat in the hive is not driving the loungingxxx.
On second look, a fair number of bees fanning. Try propping the top open with a popsicle stick, twig, or other shim. This allows the bees to draw air through the hive easily. Or just a twig between your two boxes will work , if you have a telescoping cover, and can't get a top ventilation crack.
Bearding bees will cluster several layers thick on the sunny side of the hive --- they are using their bodies to shade the hive. You are not seeing this.

The bees may just be pre-forager age, and are relaxing before they graduate to work to exhaustion. You describe a moderate amount of brood, so the bees may belong to a cohort of a large hatch, and the egg numbers have dropped. The bees will cluster on the frame when heat is needed for the larvae and pupa, if the heat is not needed they go elsewhere. You may have out of work nurse bees, unemployed by the abrupt shift from brood to summer mode.
 

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The bearding is normal. I would strongly suggest adding another super, extracting one if you have it. They may or may not draw out the foundation, but it will at least give them more room in the hive.

Secondly, to aid in their ability to aircondition the hive, open the bottom entrance all the way if you have not yet done so. It is amazing to watch a booming hive at work without being obstructed with an entrance reducer. You will see some bees on one side of the entrance facing in, fanning. More bees on the other side facing out, fanning. They are masters at circulating air through the hive, evaporating the water they've brought in to cool the hive. You do not need a screened bottom board to cool the hive. Bees have been doing it successfully for millennia.
Kindest Regards,
Steven
 
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