Since the first inspection 10 days ago Britain has had some of the hottest weather for this time of year, recorded temperatures highs of 36.7C (98F).
I have been observing the bees daily and there seems to be a good procession of traffic in and out of the hive. On average I have been topping up the feed with a 1:1 1kg to water about every 3 to 4 days and this appears to be the general requirement, I will probably continue this until that have filled their brood frames.
One observation on one of the hottest evenings, was a mass of bees outside of the hive around the door, it appeared out of the ordinary so I checked and its called Bee Bearding (image shown is not my hive). This clustering on the front of the hive almost all of the time this is totally normal, and even a good sign. This can be seen in strong colonies as the population is at its height and as the bees are storing and ripening honey at a blinding pace. To keep the honey at correct temperature and allow for airflow in the hive, a small to large number of adult bees will hang out in the front, helping the internal temperature to stay cool. You might even see some fanning of their wings, pushing air into the hive on the hottest days.
Bearding is often a totally healthy sign of a colony working at its peak. It can be a sign of a strong colony with a large population, all in service to their single purpose: overwintering successfully with enough honey stores to survive.
My concern was that this occurred on one of the hottest days so I was considering ventilation, I knew that they still had enough space to keep building but this should be a consideration. Another aspect to consider regarding space swarming, if they are out of room this could be a possibility.
My solution was to slide out the hive floor, on my hive this slides easily so no need to get all dressed up into the protective gear, the mesh floor provides protection from intruders and far better ventilation.
Today during the second inspection I left off the lid of the feeder tray, the reason is because I can’t see anyway that the hive is been ventilated through the top vents in the roof with the lid of the feeder in place? Whereas the dome in the centre has vent holes so hopefully the hive will get better ventilation – I will continue to monitor and report back at a later date.
I was showing a my family the hive from a safe distance (1m from the hive rear), I spotted a bee that looked larger than my average size bee, I thought it odd and jokingly commented that it didn’t look like one of my bees! A few seconds later a guard bee had dragged it to the ground and a fight ensued, the raiding bee was left on the ground. I assume that the bee was attempting to rob from the hive, but I cannot be sure.
I have looked at joining the British Bee Keepers Association, its actually better to join a of the local affiliated group, mine is Shropshire Beekeepers’ Association, the full membership benefits are listed as:
- Membership of the British Beekeepers Association
- A monthly BBKA Newsletter
- Insurance cover up to £5 million for
(a) Public Liability for harm caused by your bees
(b) Public liability for claims arising out of swarm collection
(b) Product Liability (including sales through Farmers’ Markets)
- Bee Diseases Insurance to help cover the loss of equipment following a compulsory destruction order
- Reduced subscriptions to the journals BeeCraft (monthly) and the Beekeepers Quarterly (optional)
- Help with acquiring bees through the collection of swarms or the purchase of colonies
- Access to SBKA equipment such as an extractor, microscope etc.
- Support to help with your practical beekeeping problems
Not bad for £28 per annum!