New bees bunched up on outside of hive

Hi, I was given a small swarm and have followed instructions for adding them to the hive. They did not stay long an have formed a bunch on the outside.

What should I do to fix this please? Its quite cool (10C). I have put out some small bowls of sugar syrup.

I look forward to your thoughts


Welcome to the forum Duncan, your in the right place to get tips and advice.
What did you do to add them to the existing hive? Did you use the newspaper method? I find that is the best option and seldom fails.
Remove the sugar water for two reasons, firstly why feed them outside of the hive when you want them to become a part of the colony, and secondly, feeding bees outside of the hive is illegal.
Place an empty box on top of the top box, either the brood box or the super, it doesn’t matter but fit a sheet of newspaper under the empty box and gather the bees outside and put them in the empty box and fit the roof. The bees will chew thru the paper and be accepted as a part of the colony in a day or two. Then remove the empty box.

Hi Peter,

Not quite illegal as such as open feeding is described in this NSW DPI fact sheet and is also listed as a method in other states, however I wouldn’t advise doing it in a suburban situation as I find even an entrance feeder makes my bees wild and they start becoming a nuisance fast.

In any case Stanwell Park is surrounded by bush so they should be able to find something to forage on even at this time of year.

Thanks Steve, I was advised a couple of years ago by a DPI inspector up here external feeding is illegal and assumed it was a law Australia wide. Darn well should be with all the issues it can cause. I agree, there should be a lot for the bees to forage on there even over Winter.
Law or not external feeding isn’t best practice and it can cause a lot of issues that a bee keeper doesn’t want, especially in an apiary situation.
Very mild Winter here, the wattle is starting to flower and Banksia too, the bees are busy. :smiley:

I just checked my 2013 copy of ‘The bee book’ by Peter Warhurst & Roger Goebel published by the Queensland DPI&F and it makes no mention of open feeding and explicitly warns of ant invasion when doing any sort of feeding so maybe the ants get worse the further north you go?

I might try and contact DPI here to see if they can re-issue their fact sheet to advise not open feeding in suburban areas of NSW, if at all.

I tried a couple of entrance feeders recently and I had bees looking in any possible place for sugar quite aggressively, I won’t be using them again except to maybe supply water in summer.

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Hi Duncan, hoping things have improved but wanted to chime in to clarify something - Peter is taking it that you are trying to add your swarm capture to an existing colony, which is why he suggested the newspaper method. I am wondering if you are talking about installing your swarm into a new, empty kit? If so, no newspaper is needed and might be more off-putting in this case.

Assuming your kit is brand new and your bees are still there, see if you can find a local beekeeper who will donate or sell you a frame of brood to put into your box, and/or some beeswax to rub onto your frames - these will make your box attractive to your bees, especially the frame of brood which nearly always succeeds in inducing a cluster to cover it and start taking care of the young larvae in open cells.

I am curious if you used any type of finish on the inside of the box that’s possibly repelling to the bees, or if it’s become wet with condensation inside? Anyway, send an update if you can!