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Discussion Starter #1
From time to time I have observed that a very small number of bees will overnight at the entrance of my top bar hive which was started this year with a package. Usually it has only been only 10-15 bees. This morning though I noticed a larger cluster - perhaps the size of your hand. About thirty minutes later many of them were slowly moving about and some were going into the entrance.

Is this typical or could the hive be overcrowded in some way?

I should note that the hive has been expanding nicely and a week ago had the equivalent of about 5+ bars of capped brood in a broodnest that was about 11 bars with an additional 4 bars of stored honey. I inserted by checker boarding three blank bars in the broodnest for them to build out at that time in addition to adding some blank bars at the back end for more honey storage.

Thanks,
Kevin
 

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You need to look inside to determine presence of overcrowding and for potential for any swarming pressure.
Don't use external bearding as a sign of overcrowding.
My bees beard too, yet they are not overcrowded.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Greg,

Yours will beard overnight? I see and have read about it during the day, but was not aware they would do so overnight.

Thanks,
Kevin
 

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Greg,

Yours will beard overnight? I see and have read about it during the day, but was not aware they would do so overnight.

Thanks,
Kevin
They might stay outside overnight in very hot and humid conditions.
Pretty normal occurrence.
Of course if your hive(s) promote the hot and humid conditions (small hives, sitting in sun, not insulated), that will be more pronounced (be sure to have the top insulation in place).

The real sign of the over-crowding is observable swarming preparation - queen cells and bees are not working normally (but just sitting about while the flow exists).
 

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5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
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I will start with I do not have top bar hives.

If / when I see bearding of lots of bees outside the hive, I do take notice.
If it is hot many of my hives do that.
if it seems to be getting worse, I offeer my langs a top entrance, either a super with a hole or a top cover with slot.
On a big hive this is not enough, I then use 2 or 3 3/4x1/2 inch sticks to leave open a side for air flow.

So perhaps some shade for the whole hive or some way to increase air flow woud help.
When bearding do check for queen cells on a 7-9 day cycle, in case of swarming you may catch it in time to prevent or split.
Do you have a mini top bar to make a NUC with?

GG
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks, Gray Goose,

The weather in the northwest has been anything but warm with rain and temps in the 60s for the past week and more of the same for the next few days.

Weather permitting I will do an inspection this weekend and keep an eye out for QCs. I do have a couple of top bar nucs which I would love to move a split into as I lost a colony earlier due to a drone layer but that might be a topic for another thread as I'm not sure if I should consider that for a first year colony? I don't know when the conditions might be right for me to do that in terms of needed strength of my current colony.
 

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Of course, you may want your hives strategically placed.
Mine I always locate to be shaded during the hottest time of the day (after 2-3 pm).

On the other hand, the Southern beeks make a point to keep them in the sun - so to control the SHB.
Magically, their bees survive just fine.
 

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Thanks, Gray Goose,

The weather in the northwest has been anything but warm with rain and temps in the 60s for the past week and more of the same for the next few days.

Weather permitting I will do an inspection this weekend and keep an eye out for QCs. I do have a couple of top bar nucs which I would love to move a split into as I lost a colony earlier due to a drone layer but that might be a topic for another thread as I'm not sure if I should consider that for a first year colony? I don't know when the conditions might be right for me to do that in terms of needed strength of my current colony.
When you inspect this weekend, IF you find swarm cells , IMO the condition is right for the split. If you can find the queen, I like to take her and 3-4 frame to the split, 1 of stores and 2 of brood, then shake in one more frame to cover the returning foragers.
In That senario you have a split with Queen and cells in the original hive.
Now if there are many bees and several cells they still could swarm. So if i was worried about that, I might pull 3 more frames with a couple cells, and 1 frame of stores to the second NUC.
Give the queens time to hatch, mate and start laying.

if there are no cells then add a couple more bars, at the edge of the nest for cluster space.

good luck , let us know what you do durring the next inspection.

GG
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I was able to inspect yesterday and fortunately did not see any QCs. The frames were covered with bees so I did add a couple of blank bars to give them some more room. This morning there was still a small cluster of bees that overnighted outside the entrance but hopefully the blank bars will provide some more room in the near future. They had been drawing out nicely several other blank bars that I had inserted over a week ago so doing well.

Thanks, Greg and Gray Goose, for your advice.

Kevin
 
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