Can anyone tell me what’s happening in this photo and in the video below?

(Click the image to view the bottom entrance in closer detail on another page.)

I’ve seen the bees clustering off the bottom bars before, but never this thick. They’re clustering right down to the bottom board, leaving virtually no room to walk. What’s up with that? Here’s the video:

It’s from Hive #1 which has a mixture of conventional and foundationless frames. The foundationless frames produced thousands of drones that are eating up all my honey (yeah, that’s right, it’s my honey). The bees were also stuck in the hive for most of June because of lousy weather. The weather for the past week, though, has been super fantastic. Today was warm with brief but heavy rain showers. The video and photo were taken about twenty minutes after the sun came out around 5pm. I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe nothing. Maybe a colony preparing to swarm? I become more dumbfounded every time I observe something new. Possible explanations seems endless. I can’t even pretend to have a clue. Any ideas?

4 Responses to “Thick Bottom Bar Clustering?”

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  1. steve says:

    I too had this happen and still occasionally see it happen in the evening as the bees are winding down from their day out. Sometimes it is thick and concentrated in the middle and other days its thinner and on one side of the box. I’m not sure what it is but perhaps that is where the queen is? or maybe its cooler near the bottom. On my #2 hive I went with a slatted board above the bottom board and i don’t see any of this clustering like hive #1 that has a screened bottom board. Even with an additional entrance at the top of the hive (which gets used a lot!) there still is the clustering on the bottom like yours. Hopefully someone can tell us if this is common behavior. Although nothing i have experienced so far is common.
    Steve

    • Phillip says:

      “On my #2 hive I went with a slatted board above the bottom board and i don’t see any of this clustering like hive #1 that has a screened bottom board.”

      Did you order a slatted bottom board from a supplier or make your own? It’s not standard equipment and I’m not sure where order one in Canada. I’d build one myself (or attempt it anyway), but I don’t much spare time these days.

      “Hopefully someone can tell us if this is common behavior. Although nothing I have experienced so far is common.”

      You bees have swarmed twice, right? At least you know you have some healthy bees. With the foundationless thing I have going on and the thousands of drones, I’m sure about anything anymore.

  2. Steven says:

    Looks to me like bees just hanging out of the way, out of the brood chamber. After a rain the humidity is a little high, and the bees want to keep from getting things too hot (with their body heat). It’s sort of like swarming.

    I agree a slatted bottom rack should minimize that. I use slatted racks, and have almost no bearding.

    — Steven

  3. Phillip says:

    Rusty at Honey Bee Suite answers my question here:

    http://www.honeybeesuite.com/?p=4583

    Thanks Rusty.

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