A beekeeper asks:
Dear Uncle Drone
With all the warm and dry weather this month, are my bees likely to delay sealing away the autumn feeds I’ve been giving them and instead raise more brood on it, perhaps to the extent of trying to swarm? I noticed a big patch of drone brood in one colony last week and wondered if I need to start looking for queen cells again, having seen others talking online about swarms being taken recently.
Uncle Drone replies:
You have two different issues here. 1) the unsealed stores and 2) drones and potential swarming.
For the first issue, unsealed stores. This can be due to the lower night temperatures and reduced ventilation. Remember the bees remove a vast amount of water from nectar by evaporation, this will always be better if it is warmer and although most colonies have open varroa floors the entrances are reduced because they are being fed and medicated at this time of year. Another factor is that the bees are still bringing in more stores and need to put it somewhere.
For the drone issue. Until the colonies get to believe winter is coming they will tolerate drones and even breed more. The spring was not one of the best for getting virgin Queens mated and so this could be an indication that they expect to succeed their existing queen with a new one for the winter. This can and does happen even when you have this year’s queen present. Swarms at this time of year are not likely and casts that are seen could easily be mating queens being cared for on their return from the drone congregation site.