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Thread: Smoker and TBH

  1. #1
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    I've heard that with a TBH I should rarely if ever need to use smoke. This morning I went to look at the swarm that I hived 5 days ago and I'm already beginning to doubt that idea. All I did was spread the bars about 1/4" to see if the combs the bees were building were lining up with the bars. But even with that small of an opening the bees just came boiling out and it was difficult to close the gaps without crushing anyone.

    Should I have used a smoker or is this more a matter of bad technique on my part?

  2. #2
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    >I've heard that with a TBH I should rarely if ever need to use smoke.

    Hmmm. I almost always light a smoker and keep it handy. One puff does wonders.

    > This morning I went to look at the swarm that I hived 5 days ago and I'm already beginning to doubt that idea. All I did was spread the bars about 1/4" to see if the combs the bees were building were lining up with the bars. But even with that small of an opening the bees just came boiling out and it was difficult to close the gaps without crushing anyone.

    You were probably in the middle of the cluster. I'd have started at the far end to see where I'm at, put a puff of smoke in, remove a couple more bars and look from the end.

    >Should I have used a smoker or is this more a matter of bad technique on my part?

    Probably both. Use a smoker. Always try to start where there are no bees.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  3. #3
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    Hi Brucebee,

    Unless you have lots of experience with a specific hive in a specific location, always light a smoker before messing with any beehive. Maybe more than half the time you won't need it. But when you do, you will be more than sorry you didn't take a few moments to light one.

    It doesn't have to be full of fuel and ready to work a 100 hives. Just available and instantly ready in a pinch.

    Remember honeybees aren't tame little pets. They are wild creatures. And some African bees can be worse than just wild. So, always be prepared.

    Regards
    Dennis

  4. #4
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    OK OK... I'll get a smoker although I don't like the idea of it as it must leave a stink in the hive that lasts for many hours or days. That's got to be disruptive of the hive's activity.

    I tried to inspect the same hive today (a week later) and had similar problems. I did start from the front end of the hive knowing that the cluster was at the other end. When I got the the first clumps of bees they were hanging from a bar with no visible comb. For some reason I switched to the other end of the hive and pulled the division board. All h*ll broke loose as bees came pouring out (and chased me from the area). Later I had some success misting the front of the hive to convince the bees massed there to go back inside. But it took me a long time and several attempts to get everything closed up. What I really wanted to do was pull a bar and brush off the bees so I could see how the comb was coming. I didn't even get close to that. I'd have loved to have been able to see how an experienced beekeeper would have handled things.

    I observed the bees afterwards and every few minutes a bee would leave the hive hauling a corpse. I guess I was a little rough and killed a bunch of bees trying to reassemble things.

  5. #5
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    > That's got to be disruptive of the hive's activity.

    So is a defensive reaction to the beekeeper.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  6. #6
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    I have found however that bees in a TBH rarely if ever need to be smoked.

    Something you can try though if you need to smoke because you have agressive bees is something they do in africa with scuts there in tbhs. They hang an open can smoker from a nail directly below the hive entrance, the bees working to keep the smoke out of the hive have less time to deal with the beekeeper. They are more concerned about the potential fire.

    It seems to work without actually smoking the hive, its just a drifting smoke that the bees constantly fan away from the hive.
    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>

  7. #7
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    Bruce
    Every hive is a little different, some will boil out at the least noise and others don't seem to really care unless you are really in their face.

    A little smoke will do a lot. When I first started I thought I could do it with little or no smoke and no veil. WOrked fine until my bee inspector showed up. He suited up and proceeded to tear my precious hives apart. THe bees boiled out and I had to run for my veil.

    As the year progressed they got more and more antsy. So finally I figurred out that you are better off to just go slow, use smoke (or have it ready), and wear veil. SOmetimes you feel silly but better to just get in the habit of it.

    If you want to develop a closer relationship with them with less disruption try going without gloves.

  8. #8
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    It's normal for bees to get more antsy as the year progresses especially in the summer. That's not something particular to your bees.
    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
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    BruceBee-

    Your hive sounds like mine.

    Smoke/no smoke- same difference.

    I wont touch a bar without a full suit and ductape.

    But it seems to me, and has been my experience, that even hives that go ballistic later start out peaceful as swarms.

    In replacing a bar i try to use a slow scizzor-like motion from one end to the other-pushing them out of the way and giving them time to move.

    I dont know about Burlingame, hopefully you are too far north(but there is pollination, trucks, trains, etc) to consider AHB. Hopefully, they are just exceptionally hot.

    At any rate, you might want to think about re-queening before you get too many bees and that makes it abit tricky to find her.

    I'd be interested in hearing from some folks if there are good techniques for doing this in a very full, very defensive TBH. Hopefully somebody out there can help us.

    Good luck to both of us.-j
    My Mom's other kids are smarter than me, but i'm not nearly as nice.

  10. #10
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    Well I got my hands on a smoker and it made all the difference in the world. I was able to get into the hive without being intimidated with constant multiple head butts and without being followed when I left the area. In other word, this hive was now behaving like my much smaller one did without smoke. (Both hives ignore me until I start tearing their hives apart.)

    Well it looks like I've got a big problem on my hands. The bees have built their combs 90 degree to the way the topbars go. I pulled topbars and located the end of the combs. They cover 10 bars or 15". I pulled a bar from the middle of that 10 bar span and was looking at 7 combs worth of oozing honey. (The combs didn't collapse as they were held by the bars on either side.) So in 4 short weeks they've half filled the hive with comb.

    It looks like I'm going to have to approach this as a cutout. In other words, remove all the comb and try to salvage what I can. I'll probably try to attach salvaged combs with rubber-bands. A friend of mine that has a similar setup (we started at the same time) had some minor cross-combing and we rubber-banded some of the comb that we cut off.

    Are there any better solutions. They bees are doing so well I wish I could just leave them alone but that would just lead to more trouble down the line.

  11. #11
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    I would build frames to fit the top bar. Swarm catching frames will make it even easier. Just make them to fit your top bar with a 3/8" space around the outside. It's hard to support honey comb even IN a frame, let alone without one.

    http://www.beesource.com/plans/swarmframe.htm

    These look much harder than they really are. It's just a frame out of 3/4" by 3/8" boards (rip 3/8" off the side of a one by) the size you need with holes drilled in the center and horizontal wires put in. Then you hinge two of them together. I used plastic from a 2 liter pop bottle cut about 1" by 1" and stapled on each pair of frames for the hinge.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  12. #12
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    I'm glad your hive settled down.

    I made some swarm-trapping frames to fit my TBH and have used them. They do make life easier. Abit of a challenge to make them, but way worth it. I ended up with a gap between the two halves that leaked alot of bees for awhile, but they closed it up after awhile. They(the frames) got rotated to the outside, filled with honey and harvested. I have them set aside for if and when i get any comb failures.

    When i have had cross comb, i have removed them (they were very fresh-built and small) and then turned the hive to line up the bars(or frames)
    along the axis they wanted to build and they straightened out from there on. Coulda been luck, but it was more than once. Turns out this was east or abit north of east.

    When i hive a new swarm, i face the front toward sunrise, which sets the frames or bars on an east-west axis and that has worked well.

    I've got a new one i haven't checked on since i hived them. I hope to see them tomorrow. I may be in for a big surprise, it's been quite awhile.-j
    My Mom's other kids are smarter than me, but i'm not nearly as nice.

  13. #13
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    &gt; I'm glad your hive settled down.

    I think it is more that I settled down than the hive! [img]smile.gif[/img] I'm pretty sure that the bees are of fairly average disposition based on descriptions of truely vicious bees. For example, even when I didn't use smoke these bees didn't follow me in large numbers nor for more than a minute or so.

    Re: swarm frames
    &gt; These look much harder than they really are.
    That's easy for you to say! [img]smile.gif[/img] I think you're right about building some swarm frames. The rubber-band approach probably is better for one or two messed up bars rather than the wholesale problem I have. And things should go a lot smoother if I've got some of these frames built.

    Do you think I should bother to match the angles of my KTBH (120 degrees) or just build square frames that fit the space? Also -- it seems like the bees might glue the swarm frames together if there are a bunch of them in a row. These bees seem to be fond of propolis.

    Finally -- instead of a hinge what about making a simple frame and the stapling some netting to the back, putting the combs in, and then staple some netting to the front. This seems like it might be easier to build even though it is not very elegant. My concern is that the netting would ruin more cells then the horizontal wiring in the plans.

  14. #14
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    &gt;Do you think I should bother to match the angles of my KTBH (120 degrees)

    I would.

    &gt; or just build square frames that fit the space?

    I wouldn't.

    &gt;Also -- it seems like the bees might glue the swarm frames together if there are a bunch of them in a row.

    They will, of course. But that's just normal problems to deal with.

    &gt;Finally -- instead of a hinge what about making a simple frame and the stapling some netting to the back, putting the combs in, and then staple some netting to the front. This seems like it might be easier to build even though it is not very elegant.

    I won't really be easier to build. Once you've set up, the only thing you're doing that's harder with the swarm catching frames is making twice as many. There's nothing to the hinge. Just cut some pieces of plastic from an old bottom and staple them on.

    &gt;My concern is that the netting would ruin more cells then the horizontal wiring in the plans.

    It will.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  15. #15
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    Well I built the swarm frames and cut out the combs. I ended up using 10 frames and didn't use most of the honey or drone cells. However, now, 3 hours later a large number of bees are still bearded on the outside of the hive. When I look at the hive entrance it looks like there is more traffic going in than out but it isn't easy to tell. A lot of the bearded bees are foragers with pollen on their legs.

    I hope the bearding isn't a sign that they are in danger of absconding. And I hope I didn't kill the queen. I guess I should look for open brood in a week or so if they are still here.

  16. #16
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    Also -- I collected the combs that I didn't use in a bucket and ended up with 2 cups of nectar/honey. I'm thinking that I should dilute this with water and feed back to the bees?

  17. #17
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    One last thing... when I put the hive back together I used:
    blank top bar
    3 swarm frames
    blank top bar
    3 swarm frames
    blank top bar
    3 swarm frames
    blank
    swarm frame
    blanks to the end of the hive
    All the swarm frames were brood or mixed brood/honey. Does the pattern I used make sense?

  18. #18
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    &gt;Also -- I collected the combs that I didn't use in a bucket and ended up with 2 cups of nectar/honey. I'm thinking that I should dilute this with water and feed back to the bees?

    I wouldn't dilute it. It spoils too easily. I'd just feed it or use it whichever you like.

    I would keep an eye on them bearding to see if they are going to go in or try to abscond.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
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    &gt; I would keep an eye on them bearding to see if they are going to go in or try to abscond.

    Well it is 8PM and most of them are inside so I don't think they are going to abscond. The hive entrance is only 3/8" high so that might have slowed down re-entry. More likely they were confused by all the mayhem that occured this morning!

  20. #20
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    ive noticed noticed more bearding than normal after a major operation.
    all that is gold does not glitter

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