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Bearding Or something else?


#1

My mentor is away, hoping someone has advice. Last few days there are MANY bees hanging out at front of hive. Last time I opened it (1.5 weeks ago) the brood box was pretty much empty, a few larvae and drone cells but not much else. Seems the queen was laying in the ideal super and top honey box.
Wondering if the feel they’re out of room? Should I move to top super to the brood box position and the emptyish brood box on top? Thanks for any advice.


#2

Hi Nat, so there is no queen excluder on the hive? Just asking? It’s been unusually warm for this time of the year, chances are this is just bearding or washboarding, either way nothing to worry about.
I am a bit of stickler for a regimented hive management plan, helps to keep me sane. :rofl:
Can I ask what the plan here is with the different size supers? If your queen is laying in all 3 boxes then that is OK if its by design as some beekeepers think its healthy for the bees. Personally it makes management of the hive a bit of a nightmare as you should be inspecting every frame for brood disease on a regular basis, in your hive thats 30 frames every few weeks instead of 10 (that’s if it is a 10 frame setup).

Let me offer my opinion of what I would do to make this an easier hive to manage and lets face it, we are all for “less disturbance to the bees right?” This advice would be to consolidate all your brood and queen into the bottom box and use a queen excluder to keep her down there.

  1. Separate all 3 boxes (leaving the bottom brood in place) and remove all empty, honey, nectar and pollen frames from the bottom box keeping all brood frames together.
  2. Locate the queen and move her (with the frame she is on) to the bottom box (this would be the first priority)
  3. Go through the supers and move any brood frames (uncapped brood and eggs) into the bottom brood box.
  4. Once the brood is full, shake all the bees from the rest of the frames into brood box and place a queen excluder over the top.
  5. There may be some capped brood frames left over, place these together into the middle of each super, once the brood hatch, the bees will then replace the empty cells with nectar/honey. Put the hive back together, the super with the most capped brood frames should go on top of the brood box followed by the remaining super.
    This will get you onto the path so you will have only nectar and honey in the two top supers and only brood and queen in the bottom box… job done!
    Otherwise, wait till your mentor returns and have a chat to them about why the queen is roaming around 3 boxes when she really only needs the bottom one.

#3


Thank you so much.
There is no queen excluder. But I have access to one.
The 3 different supers came about from being given the hive with a brood box and half super. 2nd full size was added about 2 months ago as the hive was full to the brim. The plan is to remove the half super. I was scared to do this last time as there was brood inside. But having the different sizes is a nightmare as I can’t just swap frames around, obviously.
I think your plan sounds perfect and really appreciate your response. I’ve seen the girls bearding at night but never like this, all spread out etc. I wondered about washboarding but they’re just walking about, not rocking etc. So wasn’t sure.
Again, thank you so much for your advice! Very much appreciated! Nat.


#4

Nice that we are on the same page, but I understand if you do things a little different. Removing the half super makes perfect sense and its the main reason I don’t use them (not being able to move frames around).
Another reason for the bees to be outside is ventilation, not just to keep the hive cool but to also decrease the humidity inside the hive, this is important when ripening nectar to make honey. This could be the reason.