17972343_10210427138129607_4961063145897402465_oCongestion. A topic I repeatedly misunderstand. And, in all likelihood I remain confused. Congestion, which leads to swarm behavior.

I used to think congestion was not enough room within the hive to comfortably house all of the bees. Kinda like when your cousin comes to town with his 6 kids and stays for a week. Apparently this is in error. Adding an empty box with foundation may help a little because the wax producing aged bees may go up and draw some wax but that’s not it, really. I mean your cousin’s kids are still holed up in your bathroom even if you make them sleep on the back porch.

So, I’ve read about opening up the brood chamber with an empty frame. I tried this last year only I couldn’t bear to place an empty frame in there so I placed a frame with foundation. Mistake again. I guess I need a tutorial on how this idea works.

So this year I think maybe it’s time for me to switch to nine frames since I have drawn comb now. That has to be more “open” right? Turns out I got it wrong again. What this would do is reduce the number of frames for bees to hang out making them more likely to be crowded on each frame.

Okay, so what I understand now, I think. (How can I really know anything when it comes to bees?) Anyway, I think I know that it is nurse bee congestion not bee congestion. And it is not simply too many nurse bees. I mean it IS too many nurse bees, but moreover it is unemployed nurse bees. The nurse bees are getting in each other’s way. There is an overabundance of out of work nurse bees for the amount of work to be done. It’s like ladies night and there are only 4 guys in the bar.

So, what does a colony do when it has too many nurse bees, which also happen to be coming into wax creating age? Swarm, that’s what.

So how do we reduce their unemployment and keep them in the hive? Give them work. Add drawn comb for the queen to lay in. Produce more work space AND employment opportunities.