Orienting Bees or Swarmy Bees?

My one and only hive that I might be able to steal honey from this year. Door #1: Orientation flights (after being stuck inside for a day and a half). Door #2: A swarm on the way.

I pick Door #1. I also pick Door #3 if the bees are making lots of honey behind that door.

Later that evening…

It was a hot day and the bees were sort of bearding at the bottom entrance. I’m not concerned about swarming because I checked this hive for signs of swarming about every two weeks for the past few months. I’d rather leave the bees alone, but I’d also rather not have to deal with swarms if I don’t have to. Anyhoo…

I also removed three frames of brood from the top deep about ten days ago and replaced them with empty drawn comb. I also pulled out a heavy frame of pollen from the bottom deep, one of several heavy frames that I found, and replaced it with a foundationless frame. And that’s why I’m not too concerned about this colony swarming any time soon, despite the fairly large number of bees floating around the front of the hive in the first video clip.

Removing the frames of brood reduced the number of bees in the hive, thus relieving congestion, giving the queen’s pheromones more room to flow around the hive and make everybody happy. Replacing the frames with empty drawn comb gave the queen room to lay, which is pretty much always a good thing. The foundationless frame in the bottom box gave the bees space to fill in, not just a blank frame of foundation, but actual empty space that they will be compelled to fill in to maintain the wonderful bee space that dictates the design of the best beehives all over the world. Building comb to fill in that space instead of building swarms cells — that’s what I want to see. Thus, I’m not concerned about swarming.

A night shot of some bees ventilating the bottom entrance. (August 08, 2016.)

A night shot of some bees ventilating the bottom entrance. (August 08, 2016.)

My plan is to leave this hive alone until the fall when I remove the honey supers. I may take a peek at some of the honey frames once in a while to see how they’re coming along, but the brood nest will be left untouched.

By the fall, the will have made two medium supers full of honey for me and will have enough honey in the brood chamber for themselves to stay alive all winter. That’s what I call good beekeeping… if it works.

4 thoughts on “Orienting Bees or Swarmy Bees?

  1. If your twitter post about your nuc being too hot has anything to saw about this, is that they may also be competing with heat, which I believe is another influence to swarm. Be prepared in case of Door #3!

  2. No way, José. Those are mostly orientation flights. This hive is fully ventilated with an empty moisture quilt on top. This is what a colony at its peak condition looks like. It always rides the edge of swarming just a little bit. I’m putting my money on honey.

    I hope.

    I also pulled three frames of brood from this hive about two weeks ago to relieve congestion and any swarming triggers. I’m also betting on it being too late in the year for a swarm. I know a swarm can happen right into the fall, but statistically, it doesn’t happen as often at this time of the year when the queen should already be slowing down her laying in preparation for winter.

    I hope.

  3. I should change the title of this post to “When will this colony swarm?”

    I passed the video on to a friend and asked her that question and she said I should check the hive for swarm cells. But I think she’d say something different if I’d given her the full history of the hive (which I later added to this post).

    Anyway, I’m still placing my bets on no swarm and tons of honey.

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