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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NW Lower Michigan
    Posts
    59

    Post

    After 3 weeks my 3lb package of Italians had drawn 10 combs. They are fairly calm during inspection but I need some work on my handling techniques. First is how do you replace the bars without crushing bees? They like to come up for a look and are reluctant to go back inside. I ended up putting one end of the bar tight against the next and then gently and slowly bringing the other end together closing the gap. This takes a while as they keep popping up into the gap. Is there a better way? They very much don't like smoke and actually attack the smoker when I use it. The other thing is using the bee brush. This really gets them hot and they begin buzzing loudly and attacking after being brushed off a surface. I would like to eventually work them without gloves or smoke if I could refine my techniques enough to permit it.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Casper, Wy, USA
    Posts
    806

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    Hi Rich,

    What kind of bee brush are you using? A few companies still sell a black horse hair brush designed for draftsmen and not beekeeping. That brush will instantly inflame the bees. The best brush is composed of soft, yellow, plastic bristles.

    Or you could have very hot bees. How do they behave before you open the hive? Do they follow you? Head butt? Sting instantly when they bump into you?

    How about after working the hive? How far do they follow you, etc,

    Regards
    Dennis
    I once wrangled bees. But now, I know better, so I do better.
    http://talkingstick.me/category/bees/

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NW Lower Michigan
    Posts
    59

    Post

    Hi Dennis,

    The brush I use is a "bee brush" i.e. soft yellow bristles. The bees are very calm before opening the hive. I can stand 2 feet from the entrance observing them without any protective clothing and they show no defensive behavior. Even when the hive is first opened they stay relatively calm. When they come out between the removed bars they seem more curious than defensive. It's only when I try moving them either with the brush or with a little smoke do they start buzzing loudly, flying, head butting and attempting to sting. After the hive is closed they don't follow at all but his could be because I have a somewhat wooded path that I use that leads away from the back of the hive. I'm not sure but I don't think they are unusually hot, they just don't like me trying to make them move which makes me think it's the way I'm attempting to manipulate them?

    Rich

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,553

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    I use technique mostly. Set the bar down in such a way as to push the bees back down without crushing. In other words the bar is sliding down against the other bar, not being pushed over to it. A smoker helps push them down as does your breath. Of course on a hot hive your breath will make them mad, but mine seem to take it well enough. They just panic and flee. [img]smile.gif[/img]
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NW Lower Michigan
    Posts
    59

    Post

    Thanks Michael, I'll try that next time.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Post

    Frame rests are a BIG bee-saver in this regard.
    The Stoller 2-piece spacers give one a "lip",
    a nice metal surface to scrape clean under each
    frame, and raise the frame up to allow bees to
    scurry under the end bars when they are in place.
    (It also makes a much smaller contact area
    between the frame and the frame rest, so
    frames don't get "stuck".)

    The 9-frame spacers snap onto the base "lip",
    so we put lips on everything, as it standardizes
    the box design for everything, and keeps the
    bee space correct.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Post

    Working bees without smoke, although occaisionlly successful, goes against the nature of the bees phermone defense mechanism. If they are attacking your smoker you need to find a less acrid fuel or cooler fuel, make sure your smoker is full so you aren't blowing sparks or flame and don't puff too hard. Smoke is not just to protect you, it prevents guard bees from sacrificing their lives when they have to defend the hive from an intruder, which you always will be no matter how much you technique improves.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

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    I don't know if I agree completely with that last post. Smoke isn't a necessity, I bought a smoker this year "just because" and it got exactly two uses before being shelved. If you work on your technique AND on yoru comfort levels which come with exposure, you do learn to be much less of an intrusion/intruder and the bees can gain a tendency to be more interested in what you are doing instead of seeking to get rid of you. One of the advantages of a TopBarHive is quite frankly that you become much less of an intruder.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Location
    Bradenton, FL, and Davenport, IA, USA
    Posts
    930

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    Learning to replace topbars is a technique that does need to be learned. I slide the bar up next to the one its going to be against, just putting slight pressure on the bees that are there. most of them will scurry down leaving 2 or 3 in the space which can be worked down quickly and carefully by "tapping" them with the bar you are replacing. I don't mean squashing them, but lightly tapping their backs until they move out of the way. Also quite frankly, you are killing QUITE a few less bees than you would be if you were replacing hive bodies on a langstroth hive. I kill 2 or 3 bees each inspection per hive from squashing on topbars. Its an inevitable loss for almost every beekeeper. Sometimes I dont' even realize it until I see the flattened bee next inspection session.
    Scot Mc Pherson<br />McPherson Family Honey Farms<br />Davenport, IA<br />BeeWiki: <a href=\"http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org\" target=\"_blank\">http://beewiki.linuxfromscratch.org</a> <br /><br />Pics:<br /> <a href=\"http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/\" target=\"_blank\">http://linuxfromscratch.org/~scot/pics/bees/</a>

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NW Lower Michigan
    Posts
    59

    Post

    Thanks everyone for the help. The smoker fuel I'm using is made by Dadant to supposedly be cooler and less irritating than wood chips etc. It's a compressed fiber disc that smells rather like burning hemp. I think my mistake may have been not using enough fuel. I was getting light puffs instead of a thick plume of smoke.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,553

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    I think the mistake most people make with a smoker is too much smoke. But you do need it lit well.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Post

    Rich, I keep some of that on hand for emergencies. It is about the most acrid smoker fuel I've used. It also does not make good thick clouds of cool smoke and often blows sparks due to the lack of "filtering" material on top of what's burning. I prefer pine straw or used hay rope. They light easily, burn for long periods and make copious amounts of relatively cool, thick smoke.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    NW Lower Michigan
    Posts
    59

    Post

    Interesting, I'll try some pine straw next and see if that has a better effect. Thanks.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Kernersville, N.C.
    Posts
    110

    Post

    My limited experience with TBH and smoke is similar to Scott's. I do not "like" to use smoke, but I keep a lit smoker close by in case I do something clumsy or stupid during inspections.

    I have used smoke 1 time this year because I collapsed a filled bar when cutting side attachments. Created quite a stir when it fell. The smoke gave me enough time clean up.

    As a hobbyist, I like to inspect fairly often, and as Scott said in a previous post, the TBH (with no smoke)allow me to inspect with minimal intrusion.

    It will be interesting to see TBH temper when the honey flow ends.

    Regards,
    Miles

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