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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Chicago, IL
    Posts
    130

    Default Newbie question - Nightime beekeeping

    What are the drawbacks to working with bees at night? I hear everybody say it's bad but not why. Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
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    2,497

    Default

    They are harder to see... You can work them with a red led light, but it may be better to work them just before dusk when they are settled down for the night but still enough light to work.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Woodlawn, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    326

    Default nighttime may be fight time

    Tried to super a hive tonight just before dark. These bees have not been aggressive at all, so thought I could just pop it on. Bad idea! One of the guard bees gave me a warning tap on the finger, which is still sore. Three more head butted me even after I had retreated 15 feet from the hive. I would recommend having the smoker tuned up since the worker bees will be home for the night, and be prepared for them to be a little more protective. The temp might be cooler, but the hive might be hotter!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,031

    Default

    I frequently work mine in the dark with a red LED headlight, no veil. Smoke is still often necessary. In red light some things are very difficult to see clearly enough, so I save those tasks for the short daylight hours when it is still cool enough to work bees. Even switching my headlight to its white-light mode for just a moment is usually a bad idea. Nights with lots of moonlight can also be problematic. Remember most bees won't fly, in the dark or red light, but a few will and they can still crawl pretty fast.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Tip of the Thumb, Michigan
    Posts
    676

    Default

    From my personal experience... just don't!

    Guard bees seem to always be on HIGH alert and, although they're not supposed to fly at night, you'll swear they're jumping REALLY far! They'll fly at headlamps. They'll attack car headlights. They'll crawl on the ground and up your pant legs, and up and under your veil.

    Night time will turn your gentle little lambs into crawling, stinging little nastys!

    DS

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Houston, Texas
    Posts
    127

    Default

    DS is right. Never worked a hive at night but was trying to box a swarm years ago right before dark & nothing went right. I had always heard not to mess with bees at night but that's when I learned why. Bees do crawl at night & they go UP, including legs. I ended up with a softball size ball of bees on top of my pith helmet not to mention the ones that got inside the veil.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,031

    Default

    Seems a little bit is being lost in translation:

    In the dark of a moonless night - does not equal - "just before dark". Just before dark, note emphasis on "before", is still light enough to inspire trouble, but not necessarily enough light for the beekeeper to work comfortably.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Default

    I have been working for years to crossbreed a honey bee with a
    firefly to address busy hobby beekeepers who don't get home
    from work before dark.

    So far, not a lot of luck, but I remain hopeful.

    Until then, don't work hives at night.
    Dawn is a better time, as it is often the coolest time of the day.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, N.C.
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    5,080

    Default

    Ask fellow forum member "Zane", if he can see through his swollen eyes enough to read this, why you shouldn't work bees at night.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,031

    Default

    So then, am I the only one who works bees in the dark of night without difficulties?
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    lansing, MI
    Posts
    28

    Default

    I am a new beek, but when I packaged my bees I misjudged the time before sundown and ended up working in the full dark, I didnt seem to have any problems, but they didnt have a hive to protect then. Since then I have gone into my hives once more during full dark (working most of the daylight hours sucks for bee keeping) and I never noticed a attitude difference in my bees, I assumed you werent supposed to work at night because the ones that crawled out would be removed from the hive during possibly cold night hours.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Crystal Falls, Mi.
    Posts
    181

    Default

    My girls want to be left alone at night for sure..... Even dusk they seem to take on a whole differant attitude.....
    T.G.
    When I grow up, I want to be like John K.......

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Boone, NC
    Posts
    39

    Default

    I've never worked the bees at night but I frequently get within inches of the front entrance with a flashlight and they never seem to mind me or the light.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Snowmass, Colorado, USA
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    2,497

    Default

    That's because they are all yelling to the guards "stay away from the light!!!"

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,031

    Default

    Wow, here seems to be an entirely novel and untapped facet of beekeeping, at least I hadn't thought much of it until now. I had one bad experience about thirty-eight years ago and hadn't even tried it again, until recently, once I obtained a portable headlamp with high-intensity, red-light (625-630 nm), LEDs.

    From the input, so far, it appears that there is some subjective, anecdotal evidence concerning nighttime beekeeping. I was wondering if anyone is aware of any objective, scientific investigations/experiments/research having been performed in this area.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Inver Grove, MN
    Posts
    1,462

    Default

    My observations of night-time beekeeping.

    I go out at night and use a hedge shears to clear the grass from right in front of the hives. At night there's no traffic and the job is easy. It takes only a few chops in front of each hive. Even though I've got cardboard on the ground in front of each hive, there's always a little grass that manages to get in the way.

    I enjoy going out after dark just to smell the hives on a hot summer evening. Sometimes you can smell them from 25 feet away. I think if I could bottle that smell, I could make a fortune.

    The bees never come after my little mag light. It's got a slight yellow-ish cast to the light.

    I once, and only once, used an LED head lamp. The light was very bright and had a slight blue-ish cast to it. The girls came at me like rockets. I ripped the headlamp off as fast as I could. No stings, but startling to be sure.

    I haven't opened a hive at night, yet. I read somewhere about people making nucs at night. It must have been in one of the bee mags.
    Linux - World domination through world cooperation

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Location
    New York City
    Posts
    3,401

    Default

    I had a person who was truly allergic to venom with an Eastern
    Yellowjacket colony in a log in his woodpile. For those who have
    not seen these beasties, imagine a hard-shelled armored wasp
    about the size of an adult male's thumb, with a stinger that
    looks like a 10-gauge hypodermic needle and a wingspan of
    several inches.

    The goal of the operation was simple, to lasso the log, drag it
    down to the lake, and then spin it in the lake to drown the
    yellowjackets, or at least force them to seek new a new
    nesting site.

    So, flashlights were used, and several of them took flight
    when the log was disturbed, and flew straight up the flashlight
    beam at the person holding the flashlight.

    Needless to say, this was distressing to the person holding
    the flashlight, who did not think quickly enough to turn off
    the flashlight.

    "Drop the light, drop the light!"

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Helmetta, New Jersey, USA
    Posts
    99

    Default

    I've heard that in Brazil, they regularly work their hives at night. I guess the AHB are so testy during the day, their limited ability to see you gives the keeper an advantage. How that applies to EHB, though is less clear.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Cameron, MO
    Posts
    586

    Big Grin Night shift bee's

    Yes, I got stung on the eye working bee's @ night. Note- they DO fly @ night!!! My fault no veil. I was in shorts and t shirt, no other issues. I happen to get home after work @ 4am so its just a good time for me to move any straggler bee's from my recent swarms/traps and ck on things when they are all there. I just got back from moving a grapefruit size ball back to the hive and its 11pm and almost hot here. Note, ALL the bee's are there @ night so there's more to disturb or see. I'd say be careful when its cold and all the bee's are inside. Dont want to get them cold. They are pretty mellow @ night and I havent had any problems. Well except what Idee told you of!Its been real warm @ night around here and all my hives are hanging out @ the entrances and outside just like us on day like this!

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    piperton,Tennessee,usa
    Posts
    369

    Default

    Did anyone mention Bees crawl up your pants legs at night? Oh yeah they can fly at night too right to a warm body.

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