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Swarm or Beard?

We are very new to beekeeping and have established a hive this season. About a meter away is an apple tree. It is a very hot day today and the bees were just in a flurry of activity before settling in a large ball in the apple tree. There is a few bees flying around still but probably no more then usual. Occassionally a clump of bees fall from the ball of bees. We put the super on approx 3 weeks ago. Is this bearding? Or have the swarmed and decided to make a new hive very close to the flow box? Or is this the preperation before a swarm?

Hi Verena, welcome to the forum and the exciting world of beekeeping. It sounds very much to me like you just witnessed your bees swarming. They swarm out of their hive when they feel they need more space. Initially they will land close to their old home while Scout bees go in search of a new suitable home. This process will usually take anywhere from an hour to a day. If you have a spare hive to house them in, and you were confident to do so, you can catch them and all of a sudden you now have 2 hives. If not it would be worth catching up with a local beekeeper to come and get them before they home themselves somewhere that they shouldn’t. You will need to act quickly as they may not hang around long.

Thanks TimG :slight_smile: I suited up to go catch them and as I was setting up off they flew! They didn’t hang around long. Will be ready next time!

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Hi @Vetea

To add to @TimG’s post, it sounds like your bees would have already been preparing to swarm when you placed the Flow Super on e.g. you may have noticed queen cells if you had a close look at all of the brood frames. Once the bees have decided they are going to swarm, there’s not much a beekeeper can do to change their mind, such as adding a Flow Super).

If the Flow Super’s still on, it may be a good idea to remove it (if you haven’t) whilst your colony replenishes numbers again.