Sometimes we come to a hive and we find a big group of bees outside the entrance. At times this indicates the hive is about to swarm. Sometimes it is because the hive is too hot and the bees outside are cooling it down. And other times it can be for some other reason entirely.
In this instance we were working on a very hot day so the bees outside were helping cool the hive down. Firstly by not being in the hive their body warmth is not increasing the hive tempreture. Secondly they line up in a line and flap their wings pulling hot air from the hive which thus cools it down.
As we removed the wall sheeting from the hive we discovered a seconed layer beneath. Suddenly our work time increased by another hour as we had to spend longer exposing the hive.
With the hive exposed the full scale of their work was exposed. We were informed that this hive had been in the wall for at least five years.
The bees had been hard at work over their time in the wall and they were very ordered. Their home consisted of three massive sheets of comb layered within the space they had available.
The queen ran to the bottom of the hive with her entourage which made it so easy to find her. This was because seeing a group of bees running downwards gave her away. Normally when the comb is removed bees will climb higher. They need a reason to climb downwards, the queen being the most obvious reason.
With the queen in the hive we can now close it up and get ready to position the hive near the old entrance.
In an ideal situation the new hive box is placed as close to the old hive entrance as practically possible. This allows returning foragers to easily find the new hive.
Here we see bees fanning once again. With their tails in the air and flapping their wings they are spreading a pheromone which tells the rest of the hive that this is a good place to be with the rest of us.
Late at night we return to collect the hive and once again discover the old hive all clean with the remaining bees now inside their new home.
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