After a small break for vacation, we checked in on the hives to see how they were doing. If you remember we have three hives. Hive one is the most advanced (from a population and honey production standpoint) because it was started in late April, hive three arrived with a stable queen situation and was off and running, and Hive two was the hive we had to re-queen. While it fell a little behind, it is doing well now.
Upon arriving at the hives, I noticed that the bees from Hive three (far left) were clustered around the entrance in a very strange behavior that I hadn’t seen before. According to our expert entomologist, Elly, that is called Bearding. Essentially the bees are hanging out on the front porch.
This is caused by one of two things, either the bees are out of room OR it is too hot and humid in the hive and this is their attempt to allow room for air flow to ventilate the hive to maintain correct temperature and humidity for brood development and honey production. We opened up the hive to determine which situation we have.
We opened the hive and the honey super on top was essentially empty – there was still plenty of room. Heat was the issue. After removing that level, we double checked the brood chamber and it was doing well. Our fearless leader made the decision to temporarily remove the queen excluder (the wire grate in the photo) to encourage the bees to spread out in the hive.
Turns out that by bearding, the bees are doing what they do best – caring for the hive to keep it cool. Because of the high heat, we have had to delay treating for mites again for the next few days at least, the temperature required is 85 degrees or below.
When poking around (inspecting) in the hives with ‘new’ equipment – those frames where the bees have to build brand new comb – there were some interesting things that I thought you should see.
Our final discover this week was that of a feral bee hive on the grounds. I won’t reveal exactly where it is, but high in a tree, a staff member discovered the comings and goings of some honeybees. There is no way to determine where the bees came from or how long they have been there, but they seemed very busy and cooler than the bees in our hives (no bearding here). These bees will do their work undisturbed by us nosy beekeepers or any Whiting Forest guests.