Bees on the outside of the hive – is this normal?

I confess, I am a very nervous beekeeper.

My wife is in awe at my supposed bravery in taking on such a ‘scary’ hobby – but the reality is, I still don’t feel comfortable beekeeping unless I have a professional by my side, or at least, my Dad.

He stands there calmly saying “focus on what you are doing”, I go into a panic-like zone and forget the basics like making my beesuit bee-tight.

Last week, I plucked up the courage to open the hive for a second time.  I had to.  It was the start of May – the swarmy season – and apparently I have “swarmy” bees.  The books said I needed to:

  1. Check if they were making a Queen cell, because if they were they would soon swarm and cause chaos
  2. Look for a Queen and mark her, so that I could undertake an artificial swarm to prevent a real swarm and chaos
  3. Make sure there was honey, pollen and brood in the frames, confirming that everything was OK
  4. Give them a sprinkle of icing sugar, to help reduce varroa

Only four little “to do’s” but one massive, noisy hive with 30,000 bees in it!

Crikey, it was busy (see photos below).

Step 1 – Looking for a Queen

No chance!  30,000 bees (many strangely on the outside of the hive after I had been examining the frames) versus one panicky, novice beekeeper with bees crawling inside his beesuit.

Yes – admittedly on my side I also have a calmer novice beekeeper (i.e. Dad) but unfortunately he’s an ally with macular degeneration who hadn’t had his Lucentis injection recently and now has a view of the world with an aspect ratio of 124:1.  To my Dad, all the bees looked like long, stripy worms.

Step 2 – Looking for a Queen Cell

Dad thought he saw a queen cell – but what did he know?  (Quite a lot apparently, see my next post).  In my panic-driven rush, I told him it was a drone cell.

Steps 3 & 4 – Checking the frames & using icing sugar

The frames seemed to have enough pollen, nectar (not capped) and brood. And I finished off the session by throwing icing sugar about, some of which went in the hive.

Phew.  Another encounter with bees leaves me stingless. Success in some form at least …

Help! Am I doing this right?

Beekeepers – how did I end up with so many bees on the outside of the hive?

Beehive covered in bees  Close up of bees outside hive

Postscript: You might want to read some of my swarmy bee posts!

Author: Roger

regaining my sanity through beekeeping

6 thoughts on “Bees on the outside of the hive – is this normal?”

  1. Hallo Rodger, i only recently found your site so the adventure I read here turned out to be 3 years old. Commenting on the lovely “preparing to swarm” beess is therefore out of date. But I did not see if anyone else had answered your questions. Have you tried to find a beekeeping club in your area that practices natural beekeeping. That is far less intrusive to the bees than conventional beekeeping and you might find it more relaxing. There is also a great guide which is a free pdf download and is available in English called “At The Hive Entrance” written by H. Storch. It concerns knowing what is going on in the hive by observing the entrance. You hardly disturb the bee cover at all. If you tell me your e-mail I will post you a copy if you like or you can just download it yourself. I think your Dad sounds great, buy him a beesuit too…….

  2. What is a small white worm – about an inch long, pointed at both ends, with no brown dot on the end for a head like wax moth? I found one on the top of my frames in one of my two hives.

    1. Hi, ditto on the inch long pointed worm. Killed 1 on the way into hive. Any ideas? Thanks in advance. … am 4 months into my hive.

    2. In my part of the world there are generally two types of not bee larva in hive. One is a wax moth, and the other is a hive beetle. One of my mentors can tell the difference by crushing them between his fingers. one is rubbery and one turns to mush. I cannot remember which was which, but in the end, does it really matter which it is? just get rid of it.

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