We are based in Texas, East of Dallas on a 3 acre homestead which is very slowly coming together. For the first hive I decided on the split 55 gallon plastic barrel idea, which seems to have attracted its first bees for us. For part of the morning it is situated in the shade, but 12pm onwards gets full sun, something I am sorting by adding a metal skin on the roof and shading the sides with a small fence work.
My question is not really about that as the cooling so far seem to be working, Fingers crossed. What I am concered about is I have adapted the larger plug of the barrel into a screened plug, to allow more air flow, which I tried fitting tonight, without sucess. I had forgotten the threads on either side of the holes are different! Doh.
Anyway the hive was quiet but on removing the plug I noticed the bees all huddled into the space behind it.
First question. Is the hive big enough for the swarm I have or do they huddle around the access hole at night?
I do have a divider that I can take out to give then full space of the barrel hive, but at this early stage, litterally about 2 weeks of them taking up residence I have read its best not to disturb them too much. Is this right?
Last question is if I do open the top up to remove the divider, when is the best time to do it. ie do I use smoke, (probably silly question)
Thanks in advance.
They need more ventilation. They are hovering near the hole, and fanning to keep the inside of the barrel cool. The basic Langstroth hive has a space the full width of the box. It can be closed off partially in cold weather, but we always ran ours full open unless it was a new colony and could not defend the whole length of the gap. That is 16" length where the bees could line up to create air flow.
Best time to disturb bees is on a mild morning, when there is a lot of stuff in bloom. Many of the bees will be gone, foraging, and the ones that are doing the housekeeping will be happy with nectar flowing in. Yes, use smoke,
At just 2 weeks in the hive the swarm has not grown any larger yet, no brood has hatched. But foragers have been busy bringing in nectar, so I would give them more room. If it was a good sized swarm to begin with they should easily use the equivalent of 5 deep frames of space, and I remember some swarms so big they needed to go into a full sized box right away. If they find the space is too small they may take off again or split as soon as they are assured of another queen.
Thanks for your reply Diana.
I have drilled a few more holes and given them full access, also covered the roof with a metal skin. Through the holes I can see them at work, with the aid of a flashlight. They really do not hang around, several good sized combs already there.
It was a good experience, I enjoyed it and had no stings. I guess its how you feel whilst there, I am not the anxious type and don't mind them buzzing around me anyway.