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Author Topic: bees clustered so tight they're blocking entrance  (Read 1896 times)
VTnewbee
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« on: June 30, 2009, 07:21:15 AM »

Last night I went out to take a look at the hive and was shocked to find a mass pile up of what I thought were dead bees completely blocking off the entrance.  I freaked out and ran to tell my husband who went out to see and noticed that they weren't dead at all, they were just all clustered and piled up on top of each other.  While relieved to make this discovery, I'm still really confused as to what's going on.  Bearding came to mind, but don't they normally spread out all over the front of the hive, not just pile up in the entrance?  There were no bees on the front of the hive at all, just packed into the entrance. Not to mention, it's been cool and rainy the past 3 days so I wouldn't think they're hot, plus the way they were blocking of the entrance, they couldn't be fanning the hive I wouldn't think, since they were cutting off any airflow.  What's going on?
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kedgel
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« Reply #1 on: June 30, 2009, 09:19:19 AM »

Is there room in the hive? Over-crowding will cause them to spill out--especially in bad weather when they can't get out to forage.  This is a pre-cursor to swarming also. I'd recommend putting on another brood box if you only have one on the hive.  Are there "swarm cells" on the frames? If the queen is getting old, re-queening will help keep them from swarming too.
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JP
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« Reply #2 on: June 30, 2009, 09:30:02 AM »

You may just have wet, tightly clustered bees. I wouldn't panic, they should be off to normal activities once the sun comes up.


...JP
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phill
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« Reply #3 on: June 30, 2009, 10:04:22 AM »

For what it's worth, I'm seeing the same thing with one of my hives.

At first I mistakenly thought I was seeing the first signs of robbing. (Back awhile, more experienced beeks on this forum reassured me about that.) I added a super and cracked open the top cover to ensure ventilation. That eased the congestion a bit, but they're still clustered at the entrance. No swarm cells. Enough coming and going-- with plenty of orientation flights-- to suggest that the colony remains active.

The congestion eases up quite a bit when the sun comes out. But that hasn't happened much here recently.
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luvin honey
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2009, 10:16:39 AM »

Same thing in one of my 2 hives, too Smiley They are in the same spot, same heat and light, etc., so I'm thinking congestion and getting ready to do a split. We're about 300 yards from the hives and can see the brown cluster from the house!
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The pedigree of honey
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VTnewbee
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« Reply #5 on: June 30, 2009, 12:28:06 PM »

Thanks everyone!  I'll stop freaking out now!  They do have a second brood chamber already and even the first honey super (though they haven't done too much with this yet).  I'm not sure about swarm cells because I haven't been able to inspect the hive in over 2 weeks because of the weather and not being able to get a clear day when I'm not at work.  I did find one queen cell in the last inspection but I didn't think too much of it.  I just added the honey super and figured they'd be all set.  Up until last night I didn't see any sign just from watching them that swarming was a threat.  I propped open the outer cover a little like someone suggested because one oddball thing about my hive is that the inner cover (from Betterbee) does not have the little escape notch that everyone talks about.  It does have the center hole, but all 4 edges seal up to the outer cover unlike most peoples for some reason.  When I did prop it up I noticed that bees were basically spilling out of the inner cover hole.  (all I can think of are the old movies where 1950's teenagers got their kicks out of seeing how many people they could cram into a phone booth!)  I'd like to add more room, but it seems like I should wait until they do more with the first super.  I'm guessing that because of the lousy weather, they're probably working hard on drawing out the frames these past few days.  If the sun ever shines again, maybe they can start filling those frames!
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charles
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« Reply #6 on: June 30, 2009, 01:08:15 PM »

I propped open the outer cover a little like someone suggested because one oddball thing about my hive is that the inner cover (from Betterbee) does not have the little escape notch that everyone talks about.  It does have the center hole, but all 4 edges seal up to the outer cover unlike most peoples for some reason. 

Most inner covers *don't* come with the escape notches. What you have are the regular old inner covers.
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Tucker1
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2009, 02:19:36 PM »

Last year I purchased a Irmie Shim to use with a larger hive. The shim worked well by providing an extra entrance and some ventilation.  Even this wasn't enough in August, so I lifted the top cover/inner cover up on the back side of the hive. To lift the cover off just a bit, I used 2 clean wooden paint stirrer. Since then, I've using paint stirrers for lots of little things with my hives.

Hope this helped.

Regards,
Tucker
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luvin honey
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« Reply #8 on: June 30, 2009, 05:29:57 PM »

I LOVE those paint stir sticks! I use them for marking plantings in my huge garden and they are the guides on all my top bars. The folks manning the paint desks at the local hardware stores are starting to give me the hairy eyeball when they see me come in Smiley
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The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.
---Emily Dickinson
beegrlAK
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« Reply #9 on: July 02, 2009, 02:04:33 AM »

The bears knocked my box over last night and I put them back together at 0600 today.  They've been restless all day and tonight they're balled up in front too.  They're also coming and going out the back entrance where I slide my mite count board into (it's out right now).  Hot fence tape is up but not charged yet.  We put bells around, and we'll probably sleep with one eye open tonight.

Lots of bears around this week.  A neighbor had one run into her open garage and run off with a bag of garbage!  I've never seen this many. 

Our hives are inside of a dog run, you should see the stings on my hands after the episode this morning, crabby girls.
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mick
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« Reply #10 on: July 02, 2009, 05:56:50 AM »

What does Bear taste like?
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Creamhorses
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« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2009, 08:30:19 AM »

One of our hives [2] has regular congregating on one side @ the opening.......like they're lounging/hanging around.  the hive right next to it doesn't.  Both hives are new for us....the colonies were grown this spring.  One appears to be stronger than the other and required a second super a week after we brought them home.  This congegation hive was slower coming along, but when I checked last week, outer frames were being worked, I added a super to that.  It has not made a change in their lounging......but I'm not concerned.  I would if they were covering the whole entrance.  Please give an update as to what happens with your hive. 

 
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luvin honey
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« Reply #12 on: July 02, 2009, 10:58:17 AM »

What does Bear taste like?
Very yummy or very bad Cheesy My husband used to go up to Canada. The first one was amazingly yummy! The second one was so bad even our Lab wouldn't touch it.  rolleyes
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The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.
---Emily Dickinson
Creamhorses
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« Reply #13 on: July 02, 2009, 07:24:09 PM »

Ok, tonight the bees gathering @ the entrance to the hive have only about 4" not covered with bees.  Is this a Vermont thing..weather, terrorists?

I don't want to bother the bees in this crappy weather, and the next reported sun day is next Wednesday, according to some stranger turning his car around in our driveway...........that's good enough for me.  :^)
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phill
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« Reply #14 on: July 02, 2009, 08:49:19 PM »

It's not just Vermont. Massachusetts too, apparently. The cluster on one of my hives covers the whole entrance. There's one small congested opening where they're going in and out, but they're not flying much anyway because of the rain rain rain. 

This is happening in the stronger of my 2 hives; the other one seems normal. I opened them both during a rare break in the rain, and the one where the bees are clustering still looks fine in every other way.

I'm still thinking that sunshine will change things quickly-- if we ever get sunshine again.
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luvin honey
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« Reply #15 on: July 02, 2009, 10:06:29 PM »

I have now had one beekeeping experience that allows me to pretend a little bit of beekeeping wisdom  grin

My bees swarmed!!

So, check out the inside of your hive. I was worried about swarming since the inside of my hive was very full, I had it as ventilated as I could, they were bearding on the front porch and it was COLD outside.

Well, it turns out they were really overcrowded and preparing to swarm. Hope yours don't do the same.  Undecided

If I could do it over, I would have somebody hold an umbrella over me and do a split in the drizzle or not, or at least get some emtpy bars in there to break up the broodnest... Good luck!
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The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, any time, to him
Is aristocracy.
---Emily Dickinson
catminy
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« Reply #16 on: July 02, 2009, 10:12:59 PM »

Hello,  I'm new here and to beekeeping. What's really amazing is I found my little ladies doing the same thing today.  I live in central Alabama and the weather is hot and dry.  I was worried because they looked dead!  I got my binoculars and sat a few feet away and watched for signs of life.  I added a second med. brood box 2 weeks ago.  I haven't had time to peek in to see what's going on inside. If they are preparing to swarm, what's a newbee to do?
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Gregs
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« Reply #17 on: July 03, 2009, 07:03:23 AM »

Hello...

To follow up a bit on the inner cover discussion earlier on this thread can/should I just notch a section out of each inner cover? Thanks.

FWIW, I was seeing similar behavior as VTNewBee on my two hives yesterday. Lousy weather has been the norm here in Cornwall.
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phill
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« Reply #18 on: July 04, 2009, 07:30:31 AM »

We finally got some sun yesterday. Sure enough the cluster at the entrance broke up and the hive looked normal and healthy: lots of orientation flights, lots of foraging, generally happy-looking bees. It rained a bit again in the evening, and they went back into the cluster formation-- but not as pronounced. Looking good again this (sunny) morning.

Curious whether you other folks see the same thing happen when you get some sun.
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Creamhorses
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« Reply #19 on: July 04, 2009, 08:33:31 AM »

+1

The sun was out for a couple hours midday yesterday, so I suited up after getting the smoker stoked. [Having trouble getting those cakes started what with the high humidity. Using hay to jump start them.]

The bee cluster had broken up in the heat of the sun.  This particular hive appeared to be the weaker when we brought them home, but now it has shot well ahead of the other.  The second brood chamber is full sized/w 10 frames.  The three center frames are drawn and there's a bevy of activity there.  The other hive has no drawing of comb in the second stage, however all 10 frames in the main body are overflowing with bees. 

I visited a fellow beekeeper yesterday who sells honey and explained that perhaps we should start feeding the colonies because of the totally rainy month of June, and that there's not much blossoming now for honey until the golden rod comes along.  Now I'll have to wait until Monday to get over to BetterBee....only 30 miles from Bennington.  Gonna get two of the top feeders made of styrene and have that syrup from sugar in place come Monday night.  @ this point, I'm concerned about having the hives healthy and strong for survival.

Anywho....a typical month of July would do us all a great deal of good,don't you agree?

Bee careful and have a safe holiday,

Dave & Nancy


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