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Do only queens toot? weird tooting beard

Today I have gone to harvest my long hive- and I found an unusual beard on the side of the hive. I say unusual because the weather is only warm, and the beard is on the side of the hive- away from the entrances- I have never seen the bees beard there before. It is also weird as I can hear a tooting coming from said beard- or nearby. In the beard many bees are doing the waggle dance and some are fanning their wings. they seem quite excited. Weirdly again- many of the bees appear to be darker in colour- whereas the hive they come from is mostly lighter Italian looking bee. Though there are some lighter bees in the beard- and some darker bees in the hive… Either these bees are from elsewhere- or they are older darker bees predominantly…

Consider me perplexed!

This beard is only about 1 teacupfull of bees…

Do only queens toot? The sound I am hearing is that distinctive ‘Brzt, Brzt, brzt’. And i can only hear one bee doing it at a time… I am looking but cannot see a queen in the beard- though it may be in the middle of the ball.

Is it a little swarm? A surplus to requirement evicted supercedure queen? What’s going on?

I have placed a Nuc nearby with a drop of lemongrass oil in case it is a swarm looking for a home. It’s very small though…

it gets weirder- I went back to look and suddenly the beard took to flight- and there was a cloud of bees in the air. At the same time the hive itself seemed to to do it’s daily cleansing flight- and suddenly it looked like it was about to swarm. Then the beard returned to where it had been- and everything settled back down… with heaps of bees re-entering the hive…

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Your hive is about to swarm, Jack. Guaranteed. :blush:

don’t be guaranteeing that Dawn!

it’s awfully late in the year to be swarming here… also I inspected around 10 days ago and there were no signs… I hope you are wrong- but I fear you are right.

I’d take a look now Jack. I have picked up swarms around here, a mere one week before the start of winter.

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if they were going to swarm imminently- beyond a Taranov split- there isn’t much I could do at this stage is there? Unfortunately I won’t be able to go in there today- and the next few days will be difficult also. I do have a swarm lure nuc out…

It’s now later in the afternoon and the tooting beard has gone- and the hive has settled down- though it still sounds ‘buzzier’ than normal. Though it is a very nice warm sunny day and all my hives are very active- bees are ‘making hay’… Weird for this time of year…

I have been coincidentally harvesting that long hive today as well (I started after these weird happenings) - almost done- looks like a bumper harvest. First long hive harvest- looks like at least 6 kg’s off just two frames.

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Well if the swarm has gone, fair enough. I thought you said that they returned. Then I thought it must be a practice swarm that they sometimes do.

If that’s the case you can still prevent a swarm from issuing. You’d have to be quick.

I don’t think it swarmed- I just think they went back into the hive and settled down. If it was a practice swarm- I guess they may leave tomorrow morning? What could I do at such a late stage? Take a huge split off? The brood consists of around 14 frames.

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Well, an inspection will reveal their intentions. If they want to swarm, I’d take a split with the old queen, breaking every queen cell down. With the remainder, I’d break every queen cell down, then allow them to make emergency queen cells. That’s my strategy. With that strategy, by the time the first emergency queen has emerged, the impulse to swarm should have passed.
A 14 brood frame colony will finish up with a really strong population, which you probably have in that hive.


I hope that I am wrong too. Didn’t want to worry you, but bearding and tooting makes me awful suspicious. :blush:

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Hey Jack, what was the outcome?

I haven’t had an opportunity to look in the hive today- I’ve been out all day running around. I did briefly check it a few times and externally it’s all back to normal activity. I’ll inspect it tomorrow morning.

One concern I have if I have to do a split is the lack of drones about just now. Haven’t seen one for a few weeks. Still there always seems to be at least a few somewhere lurking

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