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Bees gathering on the front of hive

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Normandie 

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This photo was taken at about 5pm this afternoon (4pm UK time). The weather has been hot, humid and building up to thunder most of today. Is this normal activity for bees in those conditions or is this "building up to swarming" behaviour?

We last checked them on Thursday - so 5 days ago - and at that time we couldn't see any eggs or lavae under 3 days old. There were no obvious queen cells either. This is the aggressive hive I posted about last week.

 

Heather 

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Hmmm - no obvious queen cells - are you sure - No eggs and young larvae is a very good reason to be aggressive. They are panicking.
You need a test frame putting in the hive.

If not too crowded they are unlikely to gather like that because of the heat - it hasn't been that hot yet. They usually fan the hive first, I think. Really hot/humid brings them out on the front.

Previously,I would have said that it was too late in the afternoon for a swarm - usually about 11am - BUT I had one swarm today - at 4pm, so that knocks that theory on the head!!:svengo:

Test frame:cheers2:
 

MJBee 

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Three main reasons for bad temper:-
a. Queenless - Heather's advice will prove/disprove this
b. Mishandling - unlikely I'm sure:)
c. Genetics - re-queen
The weather does play a part too we had +28C a couple of days ago that ended in crash bang wallop. My bees were very touchy and also bearding the front of the hives.
:cheers2: Mike
 

Mission 

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I saw this last year on a warm humid summers evening. It was one of those nights when you can just smell a storm is brewing. I suspect the weather played a part in their activity, but I have nothing scientific to back that up with. The weather has been unsettled of late, and it could just be coincidence.

I agree with the other posts regarding their aggressive tendancies.
 

Normandie 

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An update.

Coupled with advice I received on the "bad temper" thread, we started asking around for test frames - as we have only one hive. Despite apparent good intentions on the part of several beeks in the region, a test frame wasn't forthcoming. One thing that one beek said was give it at least 3 - 4 weeks before you are sure your hive is queenless.

We were all set to follow MJBees recommendation of a new queen from "l'abeille d'auvergne" but other stuff gained priority so didn't get around to it.

Last week, we finally made contact with a local beek who has been somewhat elusive and he and his wife have turned out to be very helpful and knowledgeable and they went through the hive with OH.

We appear to have a new queen (didn't find her though) who is laying in a beautiful, consistent pattern straight across the frames. The bees are calmer and no where near as aggressive, very little bumping going on. Two supers of good honey stocks which we'll harvest in a week or so. We think they swarmed about 4 weeks ago - there just seemed fewer bees - but now the hive is chock full again. Our new best beekeeper friend said well done, belle colonie d'abeilles and he'd call us in a couple of weeks to see how we're getting on. He also commented that the spot we'd chosen for the bees was excellent but that he recommended we change the orientation from east to south-westish which we can do.

The whole beekeeping thing seems possible again. :cheers2:

We will probably buy a swarm off him as that gives us double the worry :rolleyes: but at least puts us more in control of our own destiny if we need test frames etc and anyway, we did always have in mind to have three hives eventually.

One thing we've done at his recommendation that doesn't feel entirely right - but on the basis that at the moment we want to be friends so we've gone along with it - is we have removed the queen excluder as he doesn't believe in them and thinks it reduces the likelihood of swarming. Yes, you'll get "bits" in the honey but it needs to be strained anyway so... gallic shrug...

Thanks to everyone here who gave us advice and support. It's been appreciated. :cheers2:
 
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jon 

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b. Mishandling - unlikely I'm sure:)
I helped a contact collect a colony of bees he had bought a couple of months ago and I did the first colony inspection and marked his queen for him. The box was bunged with bees but they were nice and quiet and easily workable.

I inspected them again a month later and they were absolutely vicious. The queen was still there, they had plenty of room and the brood chamber seemed normal. He had done three or four inspections himself in between.

He had a problem with another colony a month ago and I gave him a queen cell from my quietest stock. I checked it last weekend and had to close up after lifting out a frame. There was brood so the queen had mated ok.

Maybe it is handling, or odour or aftershave but there is more to quiet bees than genetics.
 

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