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Hive inspection - advice please, Newtown, NSW, Australia


Bearding is usually from heat. In your case, I am somewhat reassured, as it means that your hive has a big enough population to need to beard.

The fighting is a concern - suggests robbing. The bee that you showed which is blacker than yours is evidence, but not for the reason you might think. The yellow colour on the abdomens of most bees is in the hairs which coat the surface. When bees fight, those hairs get broken off, showing the black chitin underneath. Much like a pale-furred dog may have black skin under the fur. If you have robbing, you definitely need to reduce the entrance. It is likely that the “expert’s” honey spill probably enticed the robbers too - bees can smell honey quite a distance away.

Inspections can also make robbing worse, so I would not inspect unless you have to. For your hive, I would think once every 2 weeks would be enough.

Finally, if the robbing doesn’t stop in a day or two, or it gets worse, you may need to consider a robbing screen or other methods for discouraging the marauders. You can use the Forum search tool for lots of tips. Guard bees tend to be young bees, so that may be why you are seeing dead small bees outside - perhaps they died defending the hive.



You’re a godsend @Dawn_SD! Thanks for all your help. Will open the hive briefly tomorrow to move the frames as discussed but won’t bother them with more. Will also put the reducer (bamboo stick and a stone) back on until I get some screening from the local hardware store.

Thanks again.


Hi Robert, the dead bees could well be from natural mortality, I forget the math formula, but it is a real stunner at the number that die each day. I think it was @JeffH who posted the figures and formula, it amazed me and I have been around bees for 50+ years. Finding dead bees around a hive is normal, those that die in the hive are just dumped outside.
Your regular hive inspections will disclose anything out of the normal to cause an increase of colony deaths.
Beware the SHB at this time of year where the numbers can explode and wreak havoc.
Clumsy inspections can also kill off bees and the SHB will use the bodies to lay eggs in them.



Thanks Peter!

So I did a quick inspection today to swap the frames as @Dawn_SD suggested. However in pulling out the second to last frame from each side they are more brood and less capped honey. The end frames are almost completely capped.

So I left them all in place as it looks like they moved the honey to the newly completed outer frame. I noticed the ‘expert’ put the end frames back in flush with the outside wall, so I moved them in a bit to leave a bit more space on the outside.

The end frames are a little wonky and not centered on the frame but still alot of capped honey. FYI, the frame grabber and the frame holder rack are the best inventions in the world for big handed people. :grin:

When I opened up the top, it was packed with bees at 2pm despite alot of foragers coming and going. And the bearding is significant now. Even at night now, the landing board and a few cms up the front are covered.

Should I be putting the flow super back on now? Sorry no pics as I was trying to keep the open time down to as short as possible. About 15 mins.

I put the entrance reducing piece of bamboo back on so entrance is now only 8 to 10 cm. Have seen a few SHB flying around the entrance in front of the bearded entrance last night and tonight… Doubt they can get in.

Tonight is a bigger beard I guess as I opened the hive earlier today


Good decisions on not moving the frames and reentering them in the box. You are correct by the way, bees often beard more after an inspection.

You can answer that question yourself. Only ever add a box if:

  1. All frames have fully drawn comb
  2. The comb is 80% full of brood or food
  3. Every frame is covered with bees

If you use these rules, there will be enough bees to heat and defend the hive, plus use the new space. Simple really. :blush:


Super simple… It would seem the answer in that case is almost yes!


Hey Robert, If you are having bearding the colony must be strong in numbers to have the internal heat to cause bearding. Having a good idea of your area I wouldn’t even do an inspection but just simply put the super back on. I accept other will disagree with me but that is how I would handle it.
The Summer weather with some rain is ideal for SHB, I have just installed beetle blaster traps in my weaker hives for the first time ever.
The other things you have done are spot on and your observations are correct too.


Thanks again @Peter48 and @Dawn_SD! All advice is very much appreciated. I plonked the super back on just now resulting in my first beesting to the face! Feel like I’ve been officially inducted now. :relieved: I will observe over the next week.

Still very busy entrance with beard and foragers!

Have a fabulous and safe NYE


Congratulations and welcome to the club. :honeybee::dizzy_face:
Dont worry @Ropate you will be OK until next year, have a safe NYE.


Haha… And you mate!


You have now been initiated but will become a full member when you get a sting in your shorts :smiley: and that hurts. :sob:
Happy new year mate, and same to all on the forum family.:tada:


Ha… Happy to never have to experience that.

Last question… Given this is the bearding during the day now, should I remove the bamboo stick reducing the entrance? Worried the ventilation is compromised.


Go and get a ruler. Measure 15 cm. Reduce the entrance to 15cm and leave it like that all year, bearding or not. 15cm is sufficient for good ventilation, honest! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

If the hive gets sun all day, you might want to consider a parasol or a shade “sail” to give them some shade in the afternoon. That can help a lot with bearding due to heat. :blush:


I fitted an insulation board inside all my lids and bearding, which is usually full on this time of year, is minimal. Really surprised at the difference it has made. Bit less daggy than a parasol too. :wink:



Better watch whose parasols you call daggy, Skegs!

Happy New Year from Philly, USA :pretzel::beach_umbrella::fireworks::eagle:


I also fit an insulation board cut to fit the top of inner cover, acts as an cover for centre hole also, the bees propolise it down which stops it separating from cover during inspections.
I also use slatted racks on all my hives, works well in Adelaide hot 40C+ summer, very minimal bearding.:sweat_smile:


I love slatted racks, or salted rats as I believe @skeggley has posted in the past. :smile: Did you make yours, or is there a supplier in Australia?


I made them out of WRC using the original design of slats running perpendicular to frames, Not sure about suppliers in Australia.


Very nice job. I think they work brilliantly to reduce bearding and to encourage the queen to lay worker brood all the way to the bottoms of the frames in the lowest box. Is that what you find too?



Yes I find this as well, also the space left at bottom of comb is more uniform in appearance, I use foundation less frames.:rat: salted rats lol