Brood box rammed with bees…action required?

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Drone Bee
May 27, 2020
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As mentioned in another thread, I’m away travelling so haven’t been into my four colonies at all yet. My dad has hefted/weighed them for me and they all seem about right, each having 6-8kg of stores. So I’m very happy. I’ll be back on 10th April to do my first inspections.

However…I have one colony that has been rammed with bees ever since autumn. So many that you can barely see the top bars through the clear crown board. Obviously this is great, but I’m wondering if they can wait until I’m back before they’re given more space? Or am I asking for trouble?

This colony is from a swarm that arrived in my swarm trap last summer. They built up really well, filling the single national bb by winter (although never needed supering).
They may be there because that’s where the food is. If they heft ok then there’s little to worry about.
There’s no food there…they got a bit of fondant earlier in the year but finished it ages ago. This colony has been like this since about September.

Even during the really cold spells mid winter, the cluster was huge and covered I’d say 80% of the bb.

They’re weighing 29kg in a wooden national bb with super above (super is just for insulation and feeding). My base hive weight is about 20kg I think so approx 9kg stores
Just been sent an update video from today and the plot thickens…they’ve started building comb in the empty Tupperware box I used for feeding (I guess this should be removed and the comb discarded?). Incidentally, the comb they’ve built under the crown board isn’t new…they made that in the autumn).

Shall I ask my dad to put a new bb on top with drawn comb/foundation? If so what ratio of drawn comb/foundation? I’ve not got that much drawn comb so would rather not use the majority of it on this colony as my other colonies may need some at some point too!

Or should I stop worrying and leave them alone until I get home to inspect them on the 10th?

View attachment IMG_8642.MOV

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While clear crownboards have their uses, they are not a good indicator of how many bees you have in a hive. How many seams of bees, how many frames of brood? The latter is the best indicator. One thing you could do, is lift the back of the brood box so that you have an angle to look at the seams and the front of the hive is resting on the hive floor. I've done this to hives I thought were deadouts. Looking from the top of a clear crownboard showed very few bees, lifting it on one side I could see 4 to 5 seams of bees low down in the hive.
The clear CB shows the bees are alive and are at the top where it is warmest, the issue is it doesn't tell one much more about how many seams the bees cover or the brood/stores status.
Four or five drawn, above the nest, flanked by foundation.
The OP is in Cumbria, why place a cold void above when cold weather is still around. The better solution would be to place the new brood box below the existing one. You will maintain temperature by not breaking the seal of the crownboard and the box below causes minimal disturbance. I've done this with 14x12 chambers, but around February/March. If they need space they will build downwards.
why place a cold void above when cold weather iis still around
Yes, a risk, but not that great as until the middle of April Cumbria will have 12-15C with nothing lower, so bees will be out foraging in the sun between the showers and building fast.

Even during the really cold spells mid winter, the cluster was huge
If Dad were willing, a better plan would be to raise fourish frames of open brood into the centre of the new top box, add foundation to the flanks to fill, centralise the remaining brood in the bottom box and add drawn comb to that box to fill.
Yes, a risk, but not that great as until the middle of April Cumbria will have 12-15C with nothing lower, so bees will be out foraging in the sun between the showers and building fast.
Before I posted I looked at the different temperatures. This week depending on where in Cumbria, temperatures are down to single figures and bees will naturally move downwards.
Hmmm, ok. I was hoping I could get away with taking the earlier ‘chill out’ advice and deal with this when I got back to be honest?!

I’m in Carlisle by the way
Could work, esp. if drones aren't mature & flying, but the colony balloon is expanding and the beekeeper must keep ahead of it.

All Dad must do is take off the BB, put on the new and put back the old. Is he up to it?
I was considering doing a demaree on them as soon as I got back…do you think it would be too late by then?

That said, there’s so many bees, I’m not sure I’ll be able to find the unmarked queen.
Checked all four areas and only in Appleby in the East does it drop (once) below double figures. Carlisle, Whitehaven, Barrow, all are 10-15 for ten days.
I live just outside Keswick and it was 7*C today, our weather forecast says 8*C tomorrow then 9*C Thursday. Then we will reach the dizzy heights of between 10*C and 13*C up until the middle of April. Worst thing is it’s forecast to rain everyday until 15th April 😫. We are still awaiting any blossom and leaves on the trees here, not the best for beekeeping. It’s a picturesque idyllic place to live it’s just the weather that lets us down. We can only hope that it improves 🤞. Whinge over 😂