New Beekeeper Question: Two hives behaving differently

Asked April 23, 2019, 7:18 PM EDT

We picked up two nucs on Saturday (3 days ago) and put them in their deeps on the same day. What I didn't expect to see is that the two hives seem to be behaving dramatically differently. One is way more active (it's gotten way more different than photos taken earlier). We will do our first inspection tomorrow (although we are so new to beekeeping we are not exactly sure what we are looking for). Is this normal? Photos attached and taken in the late afternoon. Thanks in advance.

Washington County Oregon bees beekeeping

4 Responses

Yes, those are typical afternoon pictures of honey bee colonies. New forager bees are taking orientation flights, so they can make it back home with their loads of nectar, pollen, or propolis. Remember, these two colonies have different genetics and will thus differ from each other. This is the beauty of having more than one hive; you can compare them to each other.

As far as what you are looking at during a hive inspection, the Portland metro beekeepers already had their bee field day. But the Willamette Valley Beekeeper Association is having a bee day this coming Saturday, April 27, at Coffman Farms in Dallas, OR. It is free, open to any interested person. They will cover smoker care and lighting; hive inspections (in the bees), queen spotting, all stages and castes of bees, and Varroa mite monitoring with alcohol wash. It starts at 10:00, address: 2775 Ballard Rd, Dallas, OR. Be sure to wear your bee suit with gloves.

If you are unable to make the bee day, watch these videos from University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada on Working Bees. You will find their videos helpful and research based.

On the resources page for the Oregon Master Beekeeper Program there are links to “Best Management Practices for Bee Health” and “Tools for Varroa Management”, both from Honey Bee Health Coalition. If you live in town you should look at the resource from Oregon State University Extension, “Residential Beekeeping: A Best Practices Guideline for Nuisance-free Beekeeping in Oregon”.

If you haven’t already, you should start attending a local bee club, the Oregon State Beekeepers Association has a listing of local branches that will guide you to the club that meets closest to where you live.

Have fun with your new bees, and don’t be afraid to check them for Varroa. The “Tools for Varroa Management” has complete information on how to do just that.

Very helpful. Thank you Anna! We're like first time parents who just brought home their first newborn!

Two different hives; two different sets of genetics. Makes perfect sense. They behave very differently. One has a lot of activity on the outside; and the other is very orderly with little activity on the outside. Both hives have a lot of bees out collecting pollen/nectar during the day so I'll take that as a good sign. When we peeked inside all seemed well. Each had a queen; each seemed to be progressing nicely.

We are members of the TVBA (Tualatin Valley) they are super helpful and knowledgeable (our next meeting isn't until next week). We bought our nucs from them and when we picked them up, they provided us with mite treatment as well.

I did notice some other behavior I think you call "bearding?" But I couldn't understand what would have made them "beard." At times, the "beard" has been much bigger. Pic attached.

So much to learn! And so fascinating! We spend a lot of time ogling our hives pure amazement. Thanks you again for your invaluable insights. We will definitely watch the videos you suggested and purchase the books as well.

Very helpful. Thank you Anna! We're like first time parents who just brought home their first newborn!

Two different hives; two different sets of genetics. Makes perfect sense. They behave very differently. One has a lot of activity on the outside; and the other is very orderly with little activity on the outside. Both hives have a lot of bees out collecting pollen/nectar during the day so I'll take that as a good sign. When we peeked inside all seemed well. Each had a queen; each seemed to be progressing nicely.

We are members of the TVBA (Tualatin Valley) they are super helpful and knowledgeable (our next meeting isn't until next week). We bought our nucs from them and when we picked them up, they provided us with mite treatment as well.

I did notice some other behavior I think you call "bearding?" But I couldn't understand what would have made them "beard." At times, the "beard" has been much bigger. Pic attached.

So much to learn! And so fascinating! We spend a lot of time ogling our hives pure amazement. Thanks you again for your invaluable insights. We will definitely watch the videos you suggested and purchase the books as well.

You are very welcome. I'm glad to have helped. Bearding is the bees response to a need to cool the hive. If you have Diana Sammataro's book, "The Beekeeper's Handbook", she explains more about bearding on page 34. It is not a problem.

Bees make the best teachers. Look in the hive regularly to see what you can learn. Do enjoy your bees and learning how to be a beekeeper. It is a fascinating journey.