I seem to be confused to as what my bees are doing? I thought they might be bearding but it’s 16 degrees with light showers. Are they swarming on that Jacaranda tree?
Looks very suspicious to me for swarmy behaviour. I would suggest you look in the brood box, as in your region, this is prime swarm season. Be prepared to do a split. I suggest page 17 of this leaflet (big document, so be patient for the download) - it may be overwhelming if this is the first time you have thought about it, but it will help you next time.
I think your bees are more confused than you are. I would scoop them off the tree and place back at the entrance to the hive, they should go back inside by nightfall.
I am guessing you haven’t done a Spring split so the first thing I would do is assess the hive for being over crowded and for queen cells. I don’t see a queen excluder so you will need to check in both boxes. The bees are not bearding, I suspect they are cramped for room.
I would do a 50/50 split if you have the woodware to do it because if you don’t do it now your colony may swarm and it will sooner or later.
How about editing your location so we can give better advise, Darwin has a different climate to Hobart, the Gold Coast to Alice Springs.
Welcome to the forum Liam, there is lots of reading on here and people happy to give you advise.
Good advice on splitting that hive @Liam_Smitty - maybe another beek can give you a hand? Either way, go for it, as one amateur to another, you have little to lose and so much to gain in trying this essential skill out for the first time!
Let us know how it goes…
I’m not too sure regards splitting the hive. My bees are doing the same after they have swarmed. The hotter the weather is, the more they beard outside the hive, when it cools down, they all go back inside. I suspect it’s their way of controlling the temp within the hive. On warm nights they also stay outside and you can hear the fanning a good 100 yards away. Placing your hand in front of the entrance, you can even feel the breeze they create sucking the air thru the hive.
What you have described is very normal and the bearding is to lessen the build up of heat in the brood, it is common to see fanning at the entrance at the same time as bearding.
It is more to do with the hives internal temperature than the number of bees in the colony. So seeing that is not a warning to do a split.
Thanks for that Peter, I suspected as much, especially when the whole thing seemed to temperature connected.
Have a question for you. I have TWO brood boxes and a Flow hive on top, how does one remove the Flow hive to access the brood boxes underneath, especially when the Flow hive is half full ???
You do it with a lot of back ache. I’ve been there and done that with double brood boxes in the past so I have now opted to single brood boxes, so with all but the outside frames containing brood in an 8 frame brood box logically I would have a bigger colony to run 2 brood boxes, especially Spring to late Autumn, but I also need to consider that I can’t lift even an 8 frame box that is the weight of a brood box. It is all about limiting weights I have to move.
Ok, in your situation to do an adequate hive inspection you would be wise to combine that with the extraction of your Flow Hive to lessen its weight. Otherwise it a heavy lift from that height, you could also extract and feed the honey back at a future time too. Put that aside on the top of the inverted migratory lid or on a couple of pieces of timber to put the Flow Super on.
Next is to remove the QX and to make sure the queen is not on it, I have done that more than once to find her there. Put the QX on a couple of pies of timber so it is clear of grass and debris. Remove an outside frame to lay against the brood box or in a spare box if you have one(which is very advisable especially with a 2nd brood box), after a quick check for the queen there which is not common. Then work through each frame in turn checking for brood, SHB and brood pattern. Maybe you will spot the queen but maybe like me you won’t, seeing larvae is enough to know she is there and laying. Check each frame in turn and do it gently as though the queen is on each frame. Now you have the bottom brood box to go through the same way exactly till you have an empty bottom brood box.
I used to reassemble my brood boxes in reverse order, the frames from the top brood box go into the bottom box, in the same order they were removed in, then fit the top brood box and place the bottom brood frames in it.
Doing the reassemble that way will increase the brood area, called an ‘old buggers way’, and it works.
At worst case park you car with a trailer on it with the trailer against the Hive and work off the trailer. I used that when my hives were up to triple supers, From the ground I couldn’t reach the lid!!!
Is double brood boxes the normal in Perth??
Hope that helps you.
You can do it lifting a full box if you have the strength. I don’t. I can’t safely lift much more than 25lb, especially when it is full of potentially defensive bees. So I do this (which is similar to Peter’s description):
- Put a flat roof upside down next to the hive.
- Put a crown board (inner cover) inside the lid. This provides good bee space for what comes later.
- Put a spare empty brood box (or Flow super) on top of the crown board.
- Open the hive as normal, and inspect a frame. When done, don’t put it back in the box on the hive, put it in the empty box next to the hive.
- Repeat for the other frames until the top box is empty.
- Move the top box and queen excluder so that it is now on top of the box next to the hive.
- Empty the next box down in the same way, putting inspected frames in the box next to the hive. Repeat until inspection is complete.
- Reverse the process to rebuild the hive, putting the frames back in one at a time.
It sounds like a bit of a process, but honestly, it isn’t. It perhaps takes 5 minutes longer than lifting full boxes, but it is much safer and more comfortable for me.
@Dee skips the crown board and simply puts the box down onto the upturned outer cover/lid edges at an angle, at least I think it was she who gave me that tip. When I do lift a full box off, it really cuts down on bee-crushing and propolis-sticking surface area and leaves plenty of bee space.
I miss @Dee and her wisdom. I think she is bored with us, or too busy! As you say, she has great ideas and tons of experience.
WOW, thank you very much. Great to hear how the experts have done it, bloody good news. Thanks to both of you. I actually built a stand for the hives so I can work on them at waist height out of 40mm galvanised pipe, same stuff used for cyclone fencing, should hold any weight, doesn’t rock as end poles are embedded in the ground. Used 3/4 inch angle iron welded onto the pipes where the hive boxes slide on keeping them secure. This provides me with an open area between the hives allowing me to place equipment/tools/frames ect, again at waist height, and off the ground. I was concerned regards the flow hive, but worked out any work would need to wait until I emptied the flow hive, removed it, and then got stuck into the brood boxes underneath.
Pete, YES, many beekeepers here in Perth use TWO brood boxes, sometimes even more. The story is they are needed to ensure sufficient food sources during the winter months, and going by how mine hive went thru winter, I’d say they’re spot on, full active hive as soon as the weather turned and warmed up.
Thanks again for your most helpful advice, appreciated.