Swarm or bearding

Hi All,
So my bees have me confused yesterday in the early morning it appeared to me that my bees from one of my hives decided to swarm while they were doing their thing it started to rain. After a little bit of time, they seem to have come back to the hive and are now bearded underneath the hive and have been there for over 24 hours. I’m not sure what to do at this point the first video below is what was going on in the early morning, the last video is where they are currently. It won’t let me upload the video, but the video showed it looked like a swarm. I have had other hives swarm on me.

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Hi Mike. The second photo looks like where the swarm decided to settle. Maybe for some reason the queen is unable to fly very far, so they settled there.

There’s 2 things I would do: First of all I would check on the brood for signs of swarming. Then if so, I would stand a frame of open brood next to, and touching the swarm. The bees will climb onto it. Then you can put it into a new box.

After a bit more thought, what I would do is place the frame of open brood in the new box, flanked by other frames, before positioning it directly under the swarm, with the top bars pushed up into the bees. The bees will climb down onto the brood. Then you can put the roof on & take it away.

PS. Is that a second Chinese copy in the far right of the top photo?

I agree with @JeffH and it looks like you have two fake Flow hives there. With a fake, it is hard to know why bees might be swarming/absconding, as the hive structure is very different inside the hive from a traditional Langstroth or a genuine Flow hive. However, I also agree with Jeff that you need to do an inspection ASAP for queen cells.

If you search the forum for wbka using the magnifying glass at the top of the page, you will get several documents about queen cells and swarm intervention :blush:

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Hi Dawn. The inside of a fake F hive is very similar to the inside of my traditional hives. The thing that can be a problem is water pooling on the floor if it’s not tilted forward, unless some holes are drilled to allow water to escape. The bees love chewing that wood, as well as the cane QEs. They do a good job of chewing all around those little flipper entrance closers, rendering them useless.

Maybe it’s not for me to say, I’ll say it anyway. I think it’s a bit cheeky of @Mike-s showing a photo containing 2 fakes on this forum. There would be nothing wrong with asking the question, minus the photos.

PS. We sold a 9 frame colony to a bloke with a fake. I made sure that all the frames contained plenty of brood, which under normal conditions would have meant bees in the honey super fairly quickly. We had a fair bit of rain in the first few weeks, which obviously slowed the bees down from entering the top box. The bloke rang us twice complaining that my bees must be too big to fit through the QE. The second time I didn’t come to the phone, I told Wilma to tell him that I’d swap the colony for another one, if he wanted to. I thought about that floor, in that if it didn’t drain, water would lie there, & not dry out, leading to chalk brood problems.

So Wilma rang him to tell him to make sure the hive was tilted forward, & what my theory could be as to the reason the colony didn’t expand. Do you know what he said? “No, that wouldn’t be right”. We haven’t heard from him since.

I told him in his first phone call that he’ll need to be aware of swarming during our spring weather (he moved up ftom Tasmania). He said, “no, I don’t think that’ll be a problem”. …He’s a “know all”

Hey Mike, the WBKA booklet @Dawn_SD referred to is extremely helpful with learning how to manage swarming. It would also be good to read up on bee life cycle and behavior in general, since swarming is completely normal and to be expected.

@JeffH rightly points out concerns such as faulty design & construction in counterfeit hive setups like yours, which could point to another kind of behavior called absconding. This is when the entire colony leaves because of adverse conditions inside the hive, like pests or damage letting in water, cold, etc. But since it is spring and peak swarm season, that is probably what you’re seeing. A thorough inspection is in order.

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Hi All,
Thank you for the feedback, it is much appreciated.

Well, it was a swarm, and by the time I got home they were gone. The back story on this hive is one of my other hives swarmed in early to mid April in which I was able to get them back, it was a fairly large swarm and put them in the Chinese brood box. I was going to put the super on and that’s when they swarmed on me again.

Where can I find the WBKA booklet?

PS. @JeffH No the hive to the far right is not a Chinese hive only the one in the picture which was a gift from a 20-year-old so please keep your comments to a minimum. I assumed it was about the bees, not the box that’s why I put the pictures.

This is a picture of the swarm from early to mid April. It is actually pretty cool.

Yes, I’ll keep my comments to a minimum. Forget everything I said.

PS @Mike-s , in keeping it brief, that hive to the far right, the one on the ground, the front corner you can see looks identical to the hive that you identified as the only Chinese hive in the picture. These are the brood boxes that I’m very familiar with that come with the fake flow hives that came on the market shortly after the launch of the genuine Flow hive.

That hive on the far right sure fooled me, my mentor, as well as Dawn.

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