Let me set the scene... I'm going about my business at home and every now again, I look through the window to look see how the girls are doing at the bottom of the garden. All seems to look fine with bees flying backwards and forwards, so I carry on with whatever I was doing. It's mid-afternoon and thinking of going out and again I'm passing the back door and naturally look across to see what the girls are up to. This time, my eyes are met with something very different - hundreds of bees hanging around the entrance of the hive. We're told not to panic...!
But what do we all do? Panic. My mind starts going into overdrive as to what might be happening. Bear with me, because I'm still in my first year of beekeeping, and haven't really seen this type of behaviour from the girls. My immediate thoughts were that they were about to swarm. But my thoughts start to process what's going on. They can't be getting ready to swarm because there are no queen cells inside, I know, I looked at the weekend. Just 2 queen cups that weren't charged.
Come on Jenifer, think. What have I been learning over the past six months in my correspondence course on honey bee management? Look at the conditions around you. The day is fairly warm, there are a lot of bees inside the hive because it's a strong colony as Lizzie has been very productive in her egg-laying. I'm beginning to think more clearly than panic and that has to be the answer. The temperature inside the hive must have risen and those on the outside have left the hive to fan their wings to try to cool the temperature of the hive.
With two supers above, the girls aren't short of space but Lizzie is short of comb space to lay her eggs. Having sought advice, I decided to go for a double brood arrangement. Thankfully I had a stack of frames already made up that just needed foundation added before popping into a spare brood box.
On went the beesuit, wellies and the smoker lit. With the help of my other half, we lifted all the hive parts from the queen excluder upwards and put to one side, smoked the bees down and added the new brood box before replacing the stack back above. With it being a strong colony, there should be plenty of warmth from the brood nest below for the wax makers to drawn out the comb quickly so that Lizzie can get on with her egg-laying.
... and breathe! This is all part of my beekeeping journey and you have to experience problems to solve them and hopefully become a better beekeeper.
The image used has been published under the terms of a Creative Commons License and is attributed to Jenifer Tucker.