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Bees living under the hive

Hi
Has anyone ever had the experience of some of their bees living under the hive?

I did my first inspection after the winter a week ago and put a new base on with the door at the opposite side. Since then it seems that a small group of about 50 or so have chosen to live under the screened base where they can see the bees above, but not going inside.

I have watched them go to the door, then return back underneath, and the rest are happily coming & going [even visiting those below]. At first I thought my queen might have been stuck outside, but checking through the day sees only workers [some carrying pollen] and not even a drone.

Any ideas??

Cheers, Ian

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Hi Ian,
The queen in definitely still in the hive and not out side with the 50 that have decided to live under the hive, is she was under the hive then so would most of the colony, add to that the queen is going to be always around the brood area and busy laying eggs in this weather you can cross that idea off the list. You can also cross the change of the entrance as a cause as you say they have gone to the entrance they know where it is and they would have also picked up the scent.
There is the odd time that happens that after an inspection of the brood area a lot of bees with leave the hive and congregate about the entrance, the side of the brood box and even under it. My guess is that the colony is very strong and that the bees for some reason, maybe stress, have decided that they will hang about outside for up to a week before they go back inside. I suspect in that time they still forage for the colony as during the day the numbers ‘hanging out’ are nearly zero. It is not bearding behavior as it can be from 20 to 100 bees. It can happen in mild weather, like our spring.
I really think it has to do with the hive being disturbed but it isn’t an issue as it does settle down.
Cheers

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Thank you so much Peter!
I think you have nailed it, as there were only about a dozen there through the day. Now it is dark, about a third of the space is a huddle of bees near the front stand, Yes they are foraging by the pollen i saw, so I will wait and watch.

Thank you again. As usual, your advice is logical, and priceless.

Cheers, Ian

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thanks for the compliment Ian. Just keep an eye out for any sign of swarming as your colony will be booming with new brood and increasing bee number, keep an eye out for swarm cells and have the gear ready to do a split so as to prevent the hive swarming. Remember you are coming out of a mild winter, heaps of pollen about and in your town I suspect nectar about as well. Not a lot from the lack of rain but folks will still be watering gardens.
Cheers

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Hi @Peter48 I observed a similar behaviour too when I inspected my hive last Saturday. After the inspection, some of the bees around 30 or so congregated around the vent/tray area at the bottom of the hive. Initially I thought the queen might have been stuck under the hive somehow but your comment helps clarify this behaviour, so thanks.

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Without a screened bottom board bees will beard on the front of the hive when it’s hot. With a screened bottom they will often beard on the bottom if there is room.

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That was interesting! :smiley:

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I’ve had the same thing on two of my FH. Trouble is I use furry fabric on the corflute tray to catch SHB that fall through the screen. The bees would get stuck too, so I stapled some dowel across the upper edge of the tray to reduce the gap to smaller than bees. No more bees under the screen now.

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Is it a double layer of “chux” that you use Mike? It seems the SHB have trouble with it and get tangled up in the open weave.
Cheers

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Chun would work for sure, Peter. I use the picnic table cloth demonstrated in one of Cedar’s videos (cheap as chips from Coles or Big W). Using double sided tape to stick the shiny side down, the furry side catches SHB easily and it’s not difficult to clean off. It does look pretty ratty after some time, but stays effective for months.

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Chux, not Chun. Bloody auto correct. :grin:

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No worries Peter!
I am all over the swarming, as I was intending to split when I did the inspection.

I have 2x 10 fr Lang supers for my brood - each with 9 frames on a perforated base, As you might remember, I had robbing earlier [still ongoing], so added a slat base with a robber screen attached - it sorted the problem well [also no bearding]. The only problem was my screened area filled up with bees & became a ‘fighting ring’, as it trapped the robbers between the inner & outer entrances.

To stop this, I built a new rack with a 50mm entrance at one end on the outer, which runs through a 10mm high x 50mm wide ‘race’ to the inner 50mm entrance on the opposite side [this seems to be working better than the screen] .

When I did the split, I was intending to quickly remove the screen, and mirror the above setup on the old rack, as my hives would be almost side by side, thus the entrances would end up at opposite ends [to reduce drift with luck].

Anyway, after this digression, before winter I only did a quick ‘lift the lid’ inspection due to the temp, & it was around the time the robbers usually arrived. My top box only had around 1 1/2 frames free, so come spring, I was panicking about swarming and built another 2 brood boxes {lid to base] ready to split.

I then proceeded to sort frames out, trying to end up with my [elusive] queen in the new boxes, and a queen cell in the old ones. When I got to the bottom box, it was nearly empty! They had moved ‘upstairs’ before my pre-winter inspection apparently & tricked me completely.

Even though it is spring, we will have very little flow as we are on very tight restrictions [100 litres/day] - only used water can be put on gardens, and cars are only to wash windscreen & mirrors. Stanthorpe is trucking water any time, and we will be by November. With the total rain for the year totaling 136mm, I can’t remember the last time I used the mower. We get a 10mm storm, then nothing for weeks - not enough to even grow grass.

That being said, my girls have not stopped flying for the majority of winter, and now that our Manchurian pear is trying to flower [pitiful comparatively to prior seasons], they mostly still head in the same direction. I can only assume that someone nearby has a bore & thus blooms for them to harvest.

This inspection there were heaps of drones [both on frames & capped cells] but no queen cell/s as yet. Would you recommend a quick inspection every 2 or 3 weeks, or should the 7 1/2 empty frames buy me time?

Cheers, Ian

I do full inspections every two to three weeks and my ‘logic’ in doing that is that you will have a good idea of how the queen is performing and the colony in general as regards stores and the strength of the colony. Spring is when the colony will increase fast in size and the likely time for queen cells and swarming so personally I really go for 2 weeks between inspections.
Because of the drought conditions accept that there might not be anything like a normal honey flow but the flowers will still flower, it is just that they won’t produce nectar, that is another reason to do inspections to check they have stores of honey to get by on. With the BOM forecast the picture for the next 6 months is not at all good.
As for the robbing keep the entrance small so the colony can defend the hive and even accept the odd traffic jam of bees coming and going till we get some rain and the flowers are producing nectar, then the robbing will stop.
I guess I’m lucky as I have hives as close as 15 cms apart and don’t have robbing issues, maybe because I always leave frames of honey in the hives so there is not the inclination of them to go looking for another hive to rob.
Queens are always elusive and for me they are hard to find, but when I do I make sure I mark her to make it easier to find her the next time.
I’m going down to Sydney in October thru Warwick and can spare an hour or two if you like, my fee is a cup of coffee and a sandwich. :laughing::laughing::laughing:
Cheers Ian

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That’s so cool Mr. Lan.