My bees are huddled close together at the entrance looking lethargic.
During today they have been busy bringing in nectar and a lot of pollen. At 14:30 they were flying in great numbers and some clustering outside some showing their nasonov gland and fanning.
At first this afternoon I thought they were preparing to swarm but after around ten minutes all was calm and the bees were going about their business.
Could it be that they require more room and are suffering with overcrowding?
My last inspection was a week ago, no queen cells found. She’s this years queen and the nucleus was installed on 5th May. They are running on a double brood.
Looks normal to me, and I have kept bees in the UK (Oxfordshire).
You get a lot of bees doing orientation flights around that time in the afternoon. It can well be mistaken for a colony getting ready to swarm. Bees like to swarm during the morning. Mid morning in a lot of cases. I figure it gives the scout bees more time before their first night in the open to look for new locations
Thanks for adding the pics and what you are seeing is perfectly normal. There can be a ‘traffic jam’ at the hive entrance for short periods due to orientation flights and cleansing flights that can disappear as quickly as they form. What you are seeing is simply the bees returning at dusk after foraging.
Swarming is normally an early morning event, and not at dusk, so you can delete that idea straight away, confirmed by you not finding queen cells in the hive. The chance on a 5 week old nuc with a new queen of swarming is not worthy of a second thought. Is is far more likely that you are seeing the expansion of a normal and healthy colony. Only expand the hive size with another super when you see the signs like bearding of a night and comb being built in the lid Nick.
Many thanks for your replies @Dawn_SD @JeffH and @Peter48.
I feel now a bit like the boy who cried wolf! However, it was a sight to behold to be beside the Hive and be amongst the bees while it was all going on in the afternoon!
I didn’t think that they should’ve swarmed with a new young Queen and also with room to lay in the second brood box, but to see them come tumbling out of the hive collecting outside and flying about in such a frenetic way, I was sure in two minds.
Today wasn’t a good day for an inspection as the weather here rained all day.
My aim this year was to just get the colony built up as a double brood ready for Winter but to see them building up so fast and strong I’m now wondering if they could be ready for a super. The oilseed rape here has just finished too.
I’ll check on my next look inside.
There is no reason to feel like the boy that cried wolf. At least you asked for others advice and are open minded to our thoughts. I have been a bee keeper for about 40 years, the same as @JeffH, and we are still learning much about them. @Dawn_SD is also an old hand I think, she shows that she is a ‘thinker’ about what she sees.
When I see something out of the ‘normal’ I think of all the possibles and then use ‘logic’ to whittle it down to an answer. We can often fail to use all our senses, like hearing and smell in diagnosing an issue.
When to add more space to a hive is hard to pick, even for someone on hard at the hive, and impossible to pick the right time over the forum. But there are signals from the bees and in doing an inspection that will help as an indicator.
But given the colony is only a month old it does seem too soon to be thinking of a second brood box.
I started with a strong 6 frame Nuc, Peter. They quickly filled the first brood box and pulled out two new frames with foundation that i added.
On 13th May after inspecting i added a second brood box with 8 frames and foundation.
They’ve pulled out all of these frames also added have filled them with brood / pollen / honey.
We’re about half way through the season here and looking ahead at the rate they’re building up i reckon on adding the super even if it was only to give them something to do and to start building the cells ready for next Spring.
A bit hard to advise you as I figure we have totally different climates as mine is sub-tropical Queensland in Australia, so I might be a bit to cautious for the UK. My bees produce excess honey all year. So I have think of my winter as a very warm summer for you.
That said I am sure will get advice from locals about if you need to super or not if you can find someone with the time to have a look at your hives. It is easier to set a hive backwards due to have excess space for them rather than not enough. If there is over crowding in a colony the bees can control the queen to reduce laying.
Hope you can follow what I am trying to explain.