Author Topic: Gorging on Honey?  (Read 173 times)

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Offline MudSongs

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Gorging on Honey?
« on: July 23, 2019, 05:49:11 am »
I haven't seen bees gorging on honey in preparation for swarming for several years.  Then I took a look at this video clip I recorded a few days ago during an inspection and thought, "Oh darn, are they gorging on honey?"



During the inspection of the 3-deep hive, I saw plenty of fresh brood, royal jelly everywhere, at least a few frames of empty drawn comb for the queen to lay.  But it wasn't a thorough inspection because I had the impression there wasn't a swarm risk.

I'm probably being paranoid, but does the frame in the video look like bees gorging on honey to anyone?

I've seen gorging bees before.  They're lethargic and kind of fat.  I didn't notice if these bees were fat, but they did seem to be holding tight to the uncapped frame of honey.  I think I'm just being paranoid.

- Phillip Cairns
Isle of Newfoundland

Offline Bakersdozen

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Re: Gorging on Honey?
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2019, 09:24:46 am »
MudSongs, I couldn't tell much from your video. Before a colony swarms they will form queen cells.  If you can see larvae in the queen cell, swarming is not far away.  You can watch the calendar to know when they are going to cap the queen cells.  If they have capped the queen cell, they have probably already swarmed.

A couple of days before swarming they will also start doing something that I will call a dry run or practice run.  If you could see in the hive, some of the girls would be scurrying around getting their sisters worked up and moving.  The noise they make is just like they are swarming. You will see a large number of bees on the outside of the hive and then all of a sudden it ends and everything goes back to normal.

Swarming usually happens during a strong nectar flow and there is an overcrowding situation.  Not always, but usually.  (Concerning beekeeping, never say never.  ;D)
In your location, is there much summer left?

Offline MudSongs

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Re: Gorging on Honey?
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2019, 08:29:00 am »
I posted the video just in case there was some telltale sign that I was missing.  I haven't been around large colonies for a couple years and I can tell I've lost some of the feel for it.  I was pretty sure the colony wasn't swarming, or gorging on honey in preparation for a swarm, but I was feeling paranoid.  In fact, it seems to be a well balanced colony.  Every time I dig into the brood nest, I find lots of capped brood but also nice open space for the queen to lay.  She seems to be cycling through the brood nest with perfect timing.

We haven't had much of a summer in most parts of Newfoundland.  The summer season in short in Newfoundland and the seasons are always delayed compared to most places in North America, but this season much of the island has been cold and dreary, temperatures maxing out at 15°C / 59°F. on a good day.  Many beekeepers I talk to say their colonies have been very slow to build up, which is the case for me too.  Only in the past 10 days or so have I noticed much expansion in my colonies with temperatures into the 20s (around 77°F).

It's also my first year with a stock of bees that are mostly Russian.  I have two small beeyards, one farther inland where the average temperature is about 5°C warmer than the other.  The colonies in the slightly warmer beeyard are doing great, almost too great because I'm having a hades of time staying ahead of them.  The colonies in the cooler beeyard are just starting to build up, and I don't expect to get honey from them.

I know Russians are sensitive to temperature changes, shutting down when it's cold and building up quickly once it warms up, but there must be a pivotal condition that causes them to shift into high gear.  The bees in my cooler have not met that condition.  The 5°C difference is dramatic.  My two beeyards seem like completely different worlds.

We only have about a month of summer left.  Iceland seems similar to Newfoundland, and maybe some parts of Alaska, though on average it seems that Iceland has even warmer weather than most of the coastal regions of Newfoundland.  At least we don't have Varroa on the island.

- Phillip Cairns
Isle of Newfoundland