Yesterday we had some welcome rain to break the drought. Today I have a number of reports/questions about unusual hive activity.
The bees have been rather 'house bound' over the last day or so because of the weather. When all the girls are home during wet days, the foragers often hang off in a quieter area and get some nap time but with all those extra bees at home and the nurse bees still working it often means the inside gets hotter, damper and stuffier.
This afternoon the sun came out and a number of hives have bearding out the front (extra numbers of bees either cooling down or ventilating to move the air about near the entrance). This is not unusual and two of my hives are doing the same.
They also have masses of bees out the front doing orientation. This often occurs in the early afternoon however there are larger numbers because some of the bees had missed out due to weather. They will settle after a while.
Another issue reported. Bees robbing hives (and no the robbers do not have capes or masks!!) although some of your girls may have an 'S' on their chest if they are fighting off robbers.
If you are seeing fights at the front of the hive and you think alien bees are getting in, then reduce the entrance of your hive. If you don't have a wooden reducer you can use anything... a handful of grass, newspaper, sponge and close up half your entrance for a few days. If you have any small nucs then reduce it to about a half inch. Bees can defend a larger entrance as the hive grows stronger, but as the day length reduces and the colony slows, you will need to take some action. Most hives are ok at the moment. By March/April I will begin to reduce some entrances again depending on the strength of the hive, and by June/July will have reduced all my hives by at least half as they cluster for the winter period. (Southern Hemisphere cool climate with late winters)
Sometimes you get robbing from another hive close to your hive. I have only seen this once when I had a very large, strong hive about three feet from a smaller hive. I needed to work on my open hive for a bit, so I took the lid off the stronger hive and they stopped the robbing within a few minutes. Opening their hive meant they needed to look after their own supplies. I reduced the entrance to the smaller hive as well and all was fine.
I am so impressed at how many of you are observing your bees and checking on their welfare.