I noticed over the last few days that the last over-wintered poly nuc left has had bees bearding outside, this means they are having problems with the hive temperature getting too high, probably due to overcrowding. Overcrowding is one of the main reasons why bees swarm, so I knew that I had to move them into a full size hive sharpish, before they start making plans to swarm.

Bees bearding on the front of the nuc last night

This is a simple operation, but even this early it is bloody hot, 23° and bright sun, so I wanted to get it done as early as possible – good plan, but I still melted in my bee suit!

The job is quite straightforward;

  • Move the nuc to one side
  • Put the new hive where the nuc was
  • Take 6 frames out of the centre of the new brood box to make room for the frames from the nuc – I actually take a couple more out to ensure there is enough room to shake the bees in, and to get the frames in without rolling the bee on the comb.
  • Take the frames from the nuc, inspect and place them in the centre of the brood box, in the same order they had been in the nuc.
  • When all the frames had been removed from the nuc, hold it over the new hive and give it a few good bangs to shake any remaining bees into the new hive.
  • Put back the extra frames I had removed to make room
  • Place on the crown board and roof
  • Job done!

The queen is a nice yellowish colour, and she was doing a lovely job of filling the frames with brood, the nuc was fit to burst, so they should build up quickly in the new hive. The bees were very calm, despite all the upheaval. They settled down very quickly, as if nothing had happened.

Bearding on the front of the nuc this morning – there are a lot of bees underneath the nuc, out of view of the camera

Moving the bees into a hive gives them much more room, eleven frames instead of six in the nuc. The young bees will be happy drawing out comb on the new frames of foundation, and the queen will have much more room to lay in. It is said that bees that are drawing out comb will not swarm, but I never take anything for granted with bees!

Having been a bit concerned earlier in the year that I might struggle to fill my new hives, I am now left with just one spare hive and two spare brood boxes. I still have the poly nucs I can use, and of course, have all the mating nucs to fill with bees, so obtaining a swarm or two would come in handy.

Plenty of bees flying in and out of their new home – no bearding now.

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