"Fuss Quotient"

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Walt B, Dec 4, 2009.

  1. Walt B

    Walt B New Member

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    Is there a rule of thumb for checking bees? I thought I had absorbed what the books said, but then...

    I was on another forum earlier in the year, and it seemed people were checking, changing, checker boarding, swapping, moving around frames in the brood chamber, and doing all kinds of things. In the process there were reports of swarms, crushed queens, missing queens, "angry" bees, great honey harvests and any number of other observations.

    I didn't check my girls hardly at all and figured I errored on the side of "doing nothing". I just watched the comings and goings of the hives and checked when I thought one hive looked different from the other, but didn't do the weekly operations that others reported. After an initial check to make sure I had laying queens in my packaged hives, I left the brood chamber alone.

    The hives are set for the winter (such as it is here). I plan to give them pollen in late January and supplemental syrup if required.

    There's a bunch of valuable experience here, so, what should I, and maybe others, have done differently? Is there a happy medium in checking the hives? When should a person just go through the hive and check everything? When should a person just leave the bees alone?

    Thanks for the anticipated responses.

    Walt
     
  2. LilWilli

    LilWilli New Member

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    I can attest that methods put forth have both similarities and disparities. In the end, however the destination is the same. ...We live and learn.
     

  3. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    I think two full blown frame by frame inspection a year is good. One in the spring, and one going into fall. The rest of the time, it may involve cracking the boxes looking for swarm cells, popping the top to see if more supers are needed, etc. This may be anywhere from weekly to monthly.

    I think knowing how to inspect and minimizing damage, is very important than thinking no inspections are the way to go.

    As a breeder, some of my hives may be opened on a regular basis, to pull eggs to graft, raising cells, making nucs, etc. The bees are very hardy, and overcome anything I throw at them.

    I think understanding that going in too much does effect stress, productivity, etc., and is important so your not over doing it. So perhaps having a reason beyond being "addicted" should be best.

    Most beekeepers could cut down their problems, inspections time, and negative effects on the hive, if they would get over the notion that the queen must be found upon every inspection.
     
  4. LilWilli

    LilWilli New Member

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    Well put, Bjorn. Especially the queen search. Disruption does cause nothing but stress.
     
  5. alleyyooper

    alleyyooper New Member

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    We check our hives once a month after the spring reversel. A full inspection again just before the honey supers are added. Once we see eggs we button them back up and leave them alone.

    :mrgreen: Al
     
  6. barry42001

    barry42001 New Member

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    The rule of thumb should be the least disruption that you cause the better for the colonies, when you open a colony up and really take it apart, may take the colony 2 - 5 days to re-orginize themself and start to return to normal, they may not show thier distress, but it's there, one thourgh inspection early spring to prepare for honey flow, and again late fall to prepare for winter would be the order of the day. minor disturbances like super removal are not that disruptive if done correctly.
    Barry
     
  7. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    walt b writes:
    I didn't check my girls hardly at all and figured I errored on the side of "doing nothing".

    tecumseh:
    wise fellow is you walt b. always open them with some purpose in mind. if you are new beekeeper get into them ENOUGH to learn something. don't over do it. most new beekeeper would also profit (and somewhat borrowing from walt b's experience) to first learn what the bees are tellin' ya' at the front entrance before utilizing the force of a hive tool.

    bjorn writes:
    I think two full blown frame by frame inspection a year is good.

    tecumseh:
    same way here. once in the spring to clean off bottom board and once in the fall to reorganize the hive downward and check condition of stores. I think of these two as the essential minimum manipulation. I would also suggest that disturbance in the primary nectar/honey collection period of the year should primarily be limited to checking population and adding space.
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I think it was hinted at above. I go into a hive when I have a definite purpose in mind. Otherwise, they are on there own. After making a nuc, or hiving a swarm or removal, I may check it 3 times in a month. Some colonies, I may not check more than 3 times a year. When I check one, I go deep enough to accomplish what I set out to do, no further. A spring clean-up is mandatory, but sometimes the fall check may be only a lift of the back of the hive. If I can't lift it, it's good for the winter.
     
  9. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Can this be done without pulling frames in the topmost box? I (and the bees) would appreciate a quick lesson here, if you would be so kind. What do you look for?


    I got over this a long time ago when I discovered that I will not ever see the queen when I want to. In 4 years, I have seen a queen TWICE, and totally by accident. I look for larvae (can't see eggs either, most of the time) and call it good.

    Maybe I should look into getting glasses... :roll:
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    hobie writes:
    I have seen a queen TWICE, and totally by accident. I look for larvae (can't see eggs either, most of the time) and call it good.

    tecumseh:
    for a new beekeeper it should be pure luck... us old hand get to call it skill (please add your favorite funny face here). when you see pearly white larvae you have all the information you need in regards to the queen.

    the remainder of what you might need to know in regards to what happening inside the hive is somewhat to highly seasonal... for example your prime concern in the fall and early spring is stores and population and the two relative to each other. supering is another thing and in another season and I would suspect 'should' be (imho) different somewhat depending on your area (most specifically the kind of flow you have). the risk or benefit from almost any manipulation is going to be somewhat dependent on location.

    my two denaro...
     
  11. cow pollinater

    cow pollinater New Member

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    I have noticed that as a whole they certainly do much better when I leave them alone unless I have a reason to be there but I have also noticed that my really quiet bees do well even with me opening them up... like they are less disturbed by my tamperings. In a way I think queen breeders automaticaly breed for bees that can handle our disturbances as it takes quite a bit of manipulation to raise queens on a commercial scale and hives that can't stand the intrussion aren't used.
    Most of my bees are by and large un-tampered with but a few select cordovan hives make it up close to the house for the kids and all the people that come with having kids to see... They get opened a few times a month and sometimes a few days in a row and they always do fine.
     
  12. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    I will usually make 3 thorough inspections one early spring one just before the honey flow and late fall.

    Early spring,-to clean bottomboard,check stores,check for brood,feed pollen patties and syrup if needed, fumagilin-b and maybe mite treatment.
    Before the honey flow.- to check brood pattern,bee population,look for a disease problem (DWS,SHB'S, MITES, ect.) make sure mouse gards are removed,good hive ventilation and supers.
    Late fall,-Check stores, bee population,if queen has shut down (here if i see alot of drones or drone larva, i check to see if i have a queen) feed pollen patties,syrup if needed, fumagilin-b, mites. shb. disease ect.
    During these inspections i don't look for the queen unless i see a problem, but i keep a eye out for her and if i do see her, i will treat that frame very carefully. There are many other things i check for but these are the main ones i also make two or three inspections for swarm cells between the early spring and honey flow inspections. Some may think this is to much but i feel like lt's necessary for good honey production. Jack