Hot weather causes bees to beard.
Bearding is caused by heat, congestion and lack of ventilation. Bees will beard during the day and at night in hot humid weather. In hot weather the hive’s internal temperatures can rise to excessive levels. Bees will go out of the hive and cluster in huge numbers, they are escaping from the heat to cool themselves and the hive. Honeybees do this mostly to keep the inside of the hive from overheating and killing the brood (immature bees), it helps regulate the brood nest temperature. Brood and too many bees in the hive will increase the internal temperature so bearding is a simple way to regulate the temperature, less bodies in the hive creating heat. So bearding is related to ventilation when the weather is hot and not to swarming. It is an indication that they are hot. As the temperature cools and humidity lowers, they will all go back inside.
What to do? Pull the entrance reducer, if you have a screen bottom board pull out the insert, add another box to the hive to give the bees more room, lift the lid so fanning is more effective, put a screen cover on the top of the hive. Any one or all these things will help the bees regulate the temperature. Plus always make sure there is a water source for your bees.
The bees have attached this transplanted queen cell to the comb.
Every once in a while you get a hive that just will not take a queen. I made a nuc on 5/21and gave them a mated queen. They accepted the queen long enough for her to lay a few frames of brood then superseded her. The weather probably wasn’t great; we did go through a rainy spell, so the queen from the supersedure may not have been bred well. They got rid of her. So I gave them a virgin queen, they got rid of her. After that I happen to find a hive with some nice queen cells so I gave them one. This is their last chance they will end up combined with another hive if they do not take this queen. Sometimes I am persistence just because I want to see what happens, I always learn something and mostly I learn I am stubborn. The reason I am telling you all this is so I can tell you how I harvest and add a queen cell to another hive. I carry an X-acto knife in my truck, it makes a cleaner cut than my pocket knife, I use this to cut the cell out. The cell really needs to be on wax foundation not plastic or it will not come off intact, the royal jelly is at the base of the cell so on plastic you cannot get the entire cell, you need to cut through to the back side of the comb. Then keep the cell up right during travel, an X cut into a deep sponge will do this or holes cut into a small Styrofoam block, also keep it warm. I pull a frame from the hive where I am placing the cell and press my thump into the drawn foundation where I want to place the cell, which should be the brood area. I gently place the cell into the indentation my thumb has made. The bees do the rest of the work by attaching the cell to the frame as you can see in these photos, I smoked the bees off for the photo. Always brush bees or smoke bees from a queen cell never shake. It is a nice big cell, the weather has been great and there are plenty of drones around for a good mating. This is it, they take this queen or they are combined, even I can be stubborn for only so long and sometimes let the bees win.
Today I am starting to thaw pollen substitute patties I have had in my freezer.
In this photo the pollen patty is off to the side to show the cluster eating the candy. Ideally you want the patty over the brood so the bees will eat it. This patty will be put right on top of the hole the bees have made in the sugar. I have found clustered bees do not move, you can smoke them, really get them mad by rolling them around using a bee brush, they just do not move. You do not want to squish bees because then the other bees have to clean up guts. This exposes them to whatever the squished bee may have had, nosema or viruses, problems can get spread around the hive quicker. So when the pollen patty is going on the top of the frames I use the edge of the pollen patty to gentle push the bees over to get the patty where the cluster is because the brood is where the cluster is. If the pollen patty is not over or on the edge of the brood the bees most likely will move to it and eat it.
I feed the pollen substitute patties in the early spring and late fall to give my bees protein. When honey bees have do not have enough pollen, which is their only source of protein, brood rearing decreases and workers live shorter lives. When protein levels are insufficient nurses cannibalize eggs and middle aged larvae. The protein from the cannibalized brood is recycled into royal jelly. Nurse bees will also cap larvae early which results in low body weights of the bees when they emerge. Bees will live off their body reserves when there is not enough pollen/protein and colonies will rapidly decline in size if adequate pollen or a supplement is not available. Bees store food in their bodies in the form of Vitellogenin (Vg), this Vg food storage reservoir is vital to the survival of the hive. Read Fat Bees Skinny Bees (download for 142 page pdf) for a better understanding of this.
“In honey bees, Vitellogenin (Vg) is hypothesized to be a major factor affecting hormone signaling, food-related behavior, immunity, stress resistance and lifespan.” (Source http://jeb.biologists.org/content/early/2013/06/11/jeb.089243.abstract)
I plan to start putting the patties on next week so I will be posting more photos.
03/01/2014 – Today I checked one yard and all the hives are alive. I gave them some protein patties. Look at this nice big cluster. Sorry for the lousy picture I didn’t want to totally take off the covers it is cold out today.
Nice cluster for March. The hive is still very heavy and I gave them a pollen substitute patty 3/1/14
Go to New Moon Apiaries web site.
Winter in the bee yard.
February 24, 2014
Today I got out my microscope to check some bees for nosema. After three weeks of confinement one hive really had a mess on the front of their boxes after they flew. I squished 5 bees and 2 of them had nosema spores, 1 bee had just 2 spores but another bee had too many to count. I have a bottle of Nozevit and will be trying that.
My plan is to feed 1 cup of 1:1 syrup with 1 ml of Nozevit in a 1 quart baggie directly on the frames right over the cluster. I think with it being right over the cluster they will keep the syrup warm since bees will not take cold syrup. If they do not take it then I will need to drench them. With baggie feeding a rim has to go on the hive to hold the inner cover off of the baggie. It is cold out so this is going to put an air space right over the cluster. I do have added insulation on the top of the hive as you can see in the picture so that will help but it is not as warm as having the inner cover right over their heads. I am hoping they will take down the syrup fast so the rim can come off before the night time temperatures of well below freezing.
Since I am giving 1 cup of Nozevit syrup at a time I will give treatments every 3-4 days (weather dependent) for at least 4 treatments. Nosema releases spores every 3 to 5 days and as little as 2 days when the temperature is optimal.
The completion of the developmental cycle of N apis from ingestion of spores to production of new spores has been reported to be completed in 2 days (Kellner,1980), or 3-5 days (Bailey, 1981) if the temperature is optimal. (Source http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/89/09/71/PDF/hal-00890971.pdf)
I am glad we are heading into March and there is a better chance of some mild weather.
February 26 – Put on the first treatment of Nozevit. It is sunny, no wind and 25 F. I was happy to find the tops of the frames clean, no pooping in the hive. I just may have caught it soon enough to nick it in the bud. The sun is really warm today my greenhouse is 80 F.
I went out at 4 PM and they had not taken all of the syrup so I left it. I had edged a pollen substitute patty up against one side of the cluster and they were taking that. May be I should have waited on the patty but I am glad they are willing to eat, sometimes with nosema the bees will not eat.
February 27 at 7 AM it is 6 F. out, I will not be drenching them today; I will just leave them alone for now.
Go to New Moon Apiaries web site.