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Overcrowding

 
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rakeman
House Bee


Joined: 28 Jun 2015
Posts: 19
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: 1581
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: 62
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: 19
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: 62
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: 19
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: 259
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: 1495
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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MikeRobinson
Foraging Bee


Joined: 01 Apr 2012
Posts: 200
Location: Upper Northwest Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Bearding" is a behavior that I have observed on most of my hives, most of the time. Especially on a warm, muggy day like we have in the summertime around here (today, in fact ...), the bees "pile up" on the sloping outer wall. Then, in the evening, they go back inside.

In my experience, this is normal behavior which requires no intervention from you.
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AndyC
Scout Bee


Joined: 04 Jul 2014
Posts: 303
Location: Uk/Horsham/RH13

PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

May I ask, does your TBH have bottom ventilation?
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rakeman
House Bee


Joined: 28 Jun 2015
Posts: 19
Location: East Harling, Norwich, Norfolk, U.K.

PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:01 am    Post subject: Overcrowding Reply with quote

Yes, I do have ventilation but the overcrowding has finished. They may have swarmed. Many thanks
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MikeRobinson
Foraging Bee


Joined: 01 Apr 2012
Posts: 200
Location: Upper Northwest Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to kindly suggest that, perhaps, "bearding" might not have in fact been an indication of "overcrowding."

Virtually every day that I visit my hives, "on a muggy Georgia (USA) afternoon," I witness "bearding" and think nothing of it. It has nothing to do, so far as I have ever seen, with "swarming."

Furthermore, with regard to "swarming" itself, I basically do not try to "prevent" that process, nor to "intercede" in it. I simply decide if I would like to catch the swarm to make a new hive. If I do, I build an empty hive-box and put it nearby, with a few cotton-balls soaked with lemongrass oil tossed inside. (Quite often, I soon see honeybees streaming in and out of it.) Either way, I figure that "I have launched a bouncing baby honeybee-colony out into the world," whether said colony decided to continue living with me or not.

(And, if they decide to abandon me altogether, "at least I tried.")
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AndyC
Scout Bee


Joined: 04 Jul 2014
Posts: 303
Location: Uk/Horsham/RH13

PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your a lucky man to live in an area where swarming can be tolerated like that.

Many if us live in places where it is not an option and management is essential.

My apiary is near a farmhouse but the farmer is ambivelant about my bees so I can do either and on the TBH I just let them do their own thing like you.

That's not an option on nationals as without colony management they are likely to swarm and cast swarm until the population decline is terminal IME.
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