This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Sunday, July 14, 2019

The true population of the hive

 A beekeeper from the east metro sent me these pictures. The question he had was, are the bearding bees foragers? It is 2am and 70 degrees, why are they bearding?
This pic was taken by a trail camera at 2:00am. Photo by M. Lai

This pic was taken at 9:00am. Now 82 degrees and no bearding. Photo by M. Lai

This is a great example of the true population of a hive. All the bees are home at night. Even at 70 degrees there is a large population in the hive. The populations are so big, the hive is crowded and the bees need to hang outside to keep cool. The hives are not attempting to swarm, they are just hot. Also, the bees are circulating air through the hive, dehumidifying the nectar collected from the previous day.
 Now the lower picture. This pic was taken at 9:00 am and 82 degrees, note very little bearding. What gives? Why no bearding, it is warmer then at night?
 The bees hanging out at night are foragers, or a combination of foragers and house bees. This top picture gives us the real strength of a strong colony. The lower picture shows us that the foragers are now out working. The colonies have a large forager population, and a large house bee population.
 How would I know this? The beekeeper has four to five supers on the hives. The bees are filling up the supers. He couldn't get to that level of honey production without having both large populations of foragers and house bees.
 When a hive has poor honey collection, it is because the population of foragers and/or house bees are not sufficient. The hive needs both classes of bees to put forth a good honey crop. A swarm (loss of foragers) a dead queen in late May and early June (low numbers of house bees during the nectar flow).
 The key to a big honey crop is a great nectar flow and a hive that is packed with bees. More bees means more honey. Keep the bees from swarming and the honey is in the bank.