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Overcrowding

 
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rakeman
House Bee


Joined: 28 Jun 2015
Posts: 18
Location: East Harling, Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 8:15 am    Post subject: Overcrowding Reply with quote

I have a problem with overcrowding in my TBH. The bees have been 'clumping underneath the hive and on the face with the entrance holes. I thought they might be about to swarm but they have stayed put for a week now. I swept them into a large cardboard box hoping they'd be there the following day to take them to a new hive be most of them had got back to their hanging positions under the hive or on the front. I've opened the hive and added extra bars, completely removing the follower boards. The number of bees on the outside has reduced (they may yet have swarmed) but still a large mass of bees around the entrance holes. Is there anything else I can do to reduce overcrowding. I have built another hive but not sure how if I can use it as an 'overflow' hive. Any thoughts please. It's turned wet and cold and I am concerned the bees may suffer. Many thanks in advance.
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Barbara
Site Admin


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1455
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi. It sounds like bearding which is pre swarm behaviour....unless you have a clipped queen, in which case it may be a swarm, but you would see signs of comb building if it was a swarm after a couple of days, especially if you disturbed them by trying to box them up.
They will swarm when they are ready and they are quite capable of surviving a down pour on the outside of the hive at this time of year as the bees on the outside orientate their wings to shed water like slates on a roof and they rotate positions within the cluster so that the outer ones are replaced before they get chilled.

Is the hive completely full?...ie there is no space to give them extra bars? Have you inspected it for capped honey and queen cells? If there are quite a few bars of mostly capped honey, you could harvest some, which would free up more space for brood and perhaps give them room to grow, although my guess would be that swarming preparations are now well underway and swarming imminent.

Good luck with them and I hope you manage to catch the swarm.

Best wishes

Barbara
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BuffBum
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Nov 2015
Posts: 57
Location: Quarry Bank, West Midlands, UK

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 6:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

" and they are quite capable of surviving a down pour on the outside of the hive at this time of year as the bees on the outside orientate their wings to shed water like slates on a roof and they rotate positions within the cluster so that the outer ones are replaced before they get chilled."

Hey Barbara, I've just been out to check on mine and the few that haven't entered the cardboard box are covering the hole and acting exactly as you describe, even me accidently banging the box didn't have any effect they are like a solid shield.
I have put another cover over them though.
Lance
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rakeman
House Bee


Joined: 28 Jun 2015
Posts: 18
Location: East Harling, Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Barbara. I'll follow your advice. I did take a comb of honey this week and another collapsed to the bottom of the hive as I removed it. I observed the bees frantically scooping up the honey but haven'y looked in for a few days. As a relative newcomer to beekeeping, I need to get myself familiar with the comb arrangement and to be able to identify queen cells etc. I really could do with a mentor in Norfolk. I don't think many bee keepers go for TBHs in this neck of the woods though. Thanks again
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BuffBum
Guard Bee


Joined: 10 Nov 2015
Posts: 57
Location: Quarry Bank, West Midlands, UK

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 7:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rakeman,
I've only had bees for less than a year and I have recently bought PCs book Managing the Top Bar Hive and It has explained a lot, for example there are several management plans showing comb layouts which I am going to find very useful. A+++
I must get my mentor to read it as he is a out and out vertical hive aficionado.

Lance

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rakeman
House Bee


Joined: 28 Jun 2015
Posts: 18
Location: East Harling, Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that advice Lance. I'll get a copy.

Best wishes. David
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mannanin
Scout Bee


Joined: 25 Feb 2009
Posts: 254
Location: Essex. UK.

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Again I agree with Barbara. Bearding in hot weather is common and not necessarily a sign of swarming. However in mild weather in May/ June I would put my money on pre swarming behaviour. They could be off very soon but I don't see that as a disaster. By all means give them a bit more room but you are probably not going to stop the inevitable. A colony in a rude state of health will always try to swarm, it's what they do. Good luck.
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1451
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Fri May 19, 2017 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple of days ago lots of bearding on my Warre. Less yesterday when it was a bit cooler and none at all today when only a few brave bees ventured out at all! I would echo that if temps are warm bearding may be just them hanging out and chilling. Overcrowding does increase bearding but it also makes swarming more likely. I gave my Warre another box to build comb in.
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