Bearding/Swarming - Amateur Needs Help!

Hi All!

I’ve had my hive about 12 months, and I did a hive inspection about three weeks ago. There were a few potential queen cells, which there generally has been during all my previous inspections. Maybe a few more than usual?

We are in peak swarm season, however today was a VERY muggy, humid day and at 7:30 tonight my hive looked like this:

They’re not being particularly noisy, and are all really calm, but I’d love some guidance on whether they’re about to swarm? I’m not hugely concerned if they do, but some guidance on my next steps would be very much appreciated!

I believe they need more space in the brood box. Which I can offer by adding a box, but obviously don’t want to do this if they swarm. I’m off to my local supplier tomorrow and would love some advice on the direction I should be heading.

Thanks so much everyone!

I like to use the advice in these 2 leaflets. Around page 17 of of the second one. They are quite big documents, so you may have to be patient while they download:

Giving them brood space is not very effective for swarm control. You would be better off making a split. :blush:

1 Like

Hi Amy,
I’d suggest three weeks is too long between inspections during spring summer. Ten days is good to assess what they’re up to and give you time to intervene. Get in there ASAP. In warm weather they’ll go outside help keep the inside from overheating, but they could also be preparing to swarm. Dawn’s suggested reading is very good. Good luck.

1 Like

Hi Amy, as you are in Newcastle you are getting it hot and humid. I agree with @aussiemike about more regular hive inspection for a start. The first thing I would do is to add another super above the queen excluder if the hive is over crowded. I am also assuming the lid is not ventilated so a small twig under the lid to raise it a few mm will give more air flow if the hive is getting too hot inside.
Up here I have hives that have ventilators and some without, the non-ventilated hives do beard so much more. Look at the bees at the entrance for bees fanning as an indicator if it is a heat problem.
Adding another brood box is not the way I would go, that would possible make the issue worse. My thoughts is that it is a combination of the need for an extra honey super and possibly extracting of frames of honey to give the bees more room and also the hot weather and lack of air flow in the hive, I know how hot it can get in Newcastle.

1 Like

An afterthought Amy, have a supply of water for the bees to drink from, it will help them in cooling the hive also.

1 Like

Thank you all SO very much!

I will definitely start inspecting more often. I only got them this time last year, and they took a long time to become established, so I didn’t need to monitor them much.

They do have two water sources (bowls with branches in them), but don’t actually seem to like them? They go bananas when I water the garden.

They were still out at 11 last night, but had gone back in by 8 this morning. I’ll add an extra honey super with vents, and ventilate the lid and see how they go.

Thanks so much for the brochures Dawn. I really have had my head in the sand! Will buy another box and get ready to do a split.

Everyone’s advice is very much appreciated! You’ll no doubt be hearing from me again :slight_smile:


Not sure where you are in Newcastle exactly but I was driving through there yesterday. There was plenty in flower so there is likely a good flow on at the moment where you are. I would agree with Peter that a second super is warranted if they look crowded.


besides getting in there and maybe making a split: I would add another box on top ASAP. Possibly an ideal- or another deep. that hive is booming and they need more room. Adding another box may keep them busy and stop them swarming: though it may already be too late if they have developed queen cells inside- which it is very likely they do! Be prepared for a monster swarm at any moment.

If you do inspect and find fully developed swarm queen cells: you could do a last minute Taranov split. It is easier than it sounds.

That’s exactly what is about to happen! I spoke with my local supplier who said their bees looked just like mine yesterday (it was a scorcher) so I’m going to add a full sized super, then harvest the ideal and pack them down at the end of the season. Have bought two boxes in case they do swarm (and I manage to catch them!). And an inner cover which I’ll put some mesh in for the hot season, and four lid vents.

Thanks so very much for all the advice everyone. Very much appreciated!

1 Like

I think you have got everything covered pretty well,
I do weekly inspections down to the QX and every 2 weeks I check the brood box as well. Doing that I don’t get any nasty surprises and can plan anything that is likely to happen in the next week and know what I am needing ready. Even having a box of stickies in a super box to do a quicker change over and less disturbance to the hive. Then it is just a matter of clearing the bees off the honey frames.
Food for thought, check if there are queen cells made, if not you could do a ‘walk away split’ to make a second hive which really doesn’t take much extra time to manage if you do both hives one after the other. There is a lot of advantages in having a second hive too.
Cheers Amy