Overpopulation of bees

My morning run. It’s when I clear my head. When I work out whatever conversations I need to have with myself. This very hot morning that followed a very hot day last week I thought about bees. My “bee-dar” noticed an overpopulation of bees as I was passing by a row of hives, one covered in bees.

One of the hives looked like this:

overpopulation of bees
This is what a hive that is “bearding” looks like. It could be from overpopulation of bees, from heat, or from robbing.
queen cell
This is what a swarm cell looks like

My first instinct: it was really hot outside, so maybe I needed to vent the lid. So we did. Then I called in the big guns. I sent this photograph to my mentors and asked if outsider bees were “robbing” this hive. Next, I asked about the potential for swarming. This was the only hive out of 18 that looked like this. It looked like it was inside out. I was asked to look deeper into the hive to get to the bottom of this. To search for swarm cells. When I went out to the hive and opened it, I noticed there were as many bees on the outside of the hive as there were inside.

This note came back from mentor Michael Embry: “I went out to look at my hives this morning. Everyone I looked at was full of swarm cells. I’ve been making new hives all morning. Also got in ten new queens from Georgia that will need homes once I make them. If you look at that hive with the “beard” I would certainly look for swarm cells. This isn’t really swarm time. I think because of the hot/cold spring swarming is late, late, late. Beekeepers ‘normally’ deal with swarming around the early part of May.

Any other year I would say that this is not the time to make a split. This year I am not so sure. Yesterday I made several splits. Like I told you in last note right now I am loaded with swarm cells. Normally you would make splits when swarm cells are present. This works fine at the onset of the honey flow but now the honey flow is two-thirds over. So unless you like feeding bees all summer you should not be making splits at this time.”

I explained that if I could add an empty honey super, I think that would give them space in the hive. Michael explained, “If you give them an empty honey super you need to place right over the brood boxes which means the other full honey supers need to be placed above this empty one. The bees will see that they have more room to expand and will work on filling the empty super. They will continue to work on the full honey supers curing and capping that honey until you need to remove it for extraction.

When temperatures are like they have been for the last few days it is normal for some of the bees to cluster outside. It helps them to reduce the temperature inside the colony and to move air more efficiently.

I installed the empty honey super as instructed.