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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Lunenburg,N.S. Canada
    Posts
    279

    Default Entrance observations

    I am curious. I have read numerous times that much can be deducted of a hives overall condition by watching the activity around the entrance of a hive. I understand "going through" a hive will set them back to a small degree so if it isn't neccesary I prefer not to.

    I can recognise incoming pollen, play flights in early afternoon, robbing behaviour and even had a couple of front row seats to swarms.

    I guess my question would be what type of behaviour/observation would send up a red flag to you that would cause you to open up and go through a hive?(besides the obvious like a mound of dead bees out front).

    I assume that most larger operations could not possibly check all their hives all the time and would have developed some sort of streamlined way of identifying problems.
    Last edited by PerryBee; 03-09-2009 at 08:16 AM. Reason: Spelling

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    collbran, co
    Posts
    466

    Smile checking hive

    well im new to bees as well i only have 1 hive started from a 3# PACKAGE LAST YEAR AS FAR AS CHECKING BEE IT MUST BE AT LEAST 57 OUTSIDE WITH NO WIND DON'T WANT TO CHILL BROOD AND IF COLD I USE A ENTRANCE REDUCER I MADE MY SELF USE A SNUG PIECE OF WOOD SO THEY DONT HAVE TO DEFEND MUCH I ONLY CHECKED 2 TIMES LAST YEAR TO MAKE SURE EGGS WAS STILL BROOD...AS FAR AS CHECKING I HAVE HEARD U CAN CHECK ATLEAST ONE TIME A WEEK I HOPE IM CORRECT IF NOT SOME ONE CORRECT ME IF IM WRONG....

  3. #3

    Default

    Check to see if bees are well formed, short abdomems or wings cocked at an angle indicates mites, lots of staining (poop) on the outside of the hive indicates nosema. If a lot of bees are crawling around on the ground that's not a good sign either.

    Search the Diseases part of this forum for more info.
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Limestone, Alabama
    Posts
    593

    Default

    An unusually large number of drones indicates that you may have a drone-laying queen.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    VENTURA, California, USA
    Posts
    3,637

    Default Smell

    You can tell a lot about the smell that a hive emits. When they are on a nectar flow you can smell it a few feet from the hive.
    Sound, it's nice to hear the roaring of the hive as they evaporate their collected food.
    Orientation and play flights of young bees will make you happy1
    Ernie
    Ernie
    My websitehttp://bees4u.com/

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    White County, Arkansas
    Posts
    872

    Default

    Watch for what kind of debris they are bringing out. If there are a lot of pupae and larvae watch for coloration. If you see a lot of drones watch what time of day they appear. Since I see a lot during fly times to Drone Congregation Areas (DCA) for mating flights.
    A book I am trying to get is, if I remember correctly, 'At the Hive Entrance'. I've seen a couple excerpts from this book and really want to get it.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Knappa, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    35

    Default Good Book

    Hi,

    I just bought the book "At The Hive Entrance" by H. Storch. It is one of the coolest bee books I've seen so far and I read it nearly cover to cover the first day. I highly recommend it. I bought mine through Betterbee. I know Brushy Mountain has it and am sure many others do too. Awesome book.

    ~ Elsa

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,985

    Default

    as a mental frame work you have discovered the proper place to begin. you need no hive tool nor veil... only your eyes and nose.

    the numbers of bees at the entry(s) suggest population internal to the hive. debris coming out the front door often times means there is some kind of problem... a lot of debris typically suggest a lot of problem. large number of flies (you should expect a few even on a healthy hive) at the landing board suggest some form of brood disease. typically the smell of rot will be quickly associated with brood disease. ants at or about the bottom board most times means some kind of debris is building up on the bottom board and has attracted the ants.

    there are of couse positive stuff to see and smell external to the hive that tells you alot also. like workers bring in pollen and the smell of ripening honey or the lingering odor of a hive all brooded up <the most wonderful and lush smell of them all.

    the problem suggest to you where as a beekeeper you will likely need to intervene... the positive list most time mean you just need to let them girls do their thing.

  9. #9

    Default

    I've enjoyed reading this thread and have learned a lot. Thanks tecumseh and others. The "At the Hive Entrance" sounds like a great book.
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,351

    Default

    scratches on the front of the brood chamber and bare ground or ripped up grass at the entrance to tell you a skunk is depopulating your hive after hours, a comparison to the number of bees coming with other hives, fighting at the entrance may indicate a weak hive being robbed, guilty looking bees indicating a dead hive being robbed (often crystalized honey as well), gray bee mummmies giving the tell tale sign of chalkbrood, dead brood or damaged larvae for indication of mite overpopulation, large numbers of bees washboarding indicating a poor nectar flow, and of course smoke which means a beekeeper is somewhere in the vicinity as well as sometimes angry bees which may mean look behind you, BEAR!!

    We think entrance observation is probably the most important observation.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    5,119

    Default

    Part of what you wil be looking for isn't what is happening with each colony. but the differences between the colonies. Differences in flight activity, pollen gathering, and hive debris. If most of the colonies are flying strongly, and a couple aren't, you look at the couple that aren't. If all are bringing copious amounts of pollen, you would look at the ones that aren't.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Lunenburg,N.S. Canada
    Posts
    279

    Default

    All of these are good answers, I guess the thing to look for most is the differences.

    Joel, I find one of your observations very interesting. While I have read about bees "washboarding" I have never actually seen it. I did not know that this was an indication of a poor nectar flow. Could you expand on why it is they (the bees) would exhibit this behaviour during a dearth?

    Sounds like "At the hive entrance" will be on my list next visit to the library as well.

    Thanks

    Perry

  13. #13

    Default

    tecumseh wrote
    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    debris coming out the front door often times means there is some kind of problem
    One of my hives has something that looks like pollen to the side on the entrance board. It's tan though, rather than yellow or orange as most pollen in the area is. It's small and grainy like pollen. I've been wondering what it is, thought it might be chewed up wax? Need help with identifying it.

    Michael, I agree with you that the differences in flight activity, pollen gathering, and hive debris at the entrance helps with managing your colonies. I am just learning and appreciate the feedback. Perry washboarding isn't, anywhere I've seen, an indication of nectar dearth, it's more I've read maybe a preparation for swarming.
    Last edited by gingerbee; 03-13-2009 at 01:06 PM.
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Fresno California USA
    Posts
    2,496

    Default Great thread!

    Many really good comments. Also: There was once in my home town a beekeeper known as " Big Nick ". He was blind, and made many of his observations using his ears. He listened for virgins piping in the evening, the sound the bees made after a sharp knock, no doubt just the daily flight or lack of it spoke volumes to him.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,861

    Default

    I agree with the theory that washboarding is at slack times. Nothing to do but clean I guess. I usually see it late summer and early fall when we have no strong nectar flow. No swarming.

    I look for differences, things like dead bees, chalkbrood mummies, yellow jackets, and differences over the past few days (since they are in my back yard). Robbing can be seen this way. A small amount of activity from a hive and then one day a huge amount.

  16. #16

    Default

    Beedeetee

    A small amount of activity and then a large amount would indicate what? A nectar flow, bees being strong? Or a colony weakening, preparing to abscond? A strong colony getting ready to swarm? A weakening colony swarming to replace the queen? If there's anything I've learned about beekeeping it is this: ask a beekeeper and you'll get opinions. I respect yours but don't necessarily agree with them. Thanks for your comments though.

    In my own beeyard I'm not sure. It's why I read and try to learn. The more I read the more opinions and ways of doing things there are and keeping bees based on opinions isn't sound. it's confusing. I've tried things I've read in the forums and have learned you can't depend on opinions.

    Tom, "hearing bees in flight"- you'd have to have an keen sense of hearing to hear bees flying unless they were swarming, no doubt. Your post is certainly eloquent, virgins piping in the evening. I've never heard that, but would like to.
    Last edited by gingerbee; 03-14-2009 at 02:52 PM. Reason: add info
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Location
    Camas, WA
    Posts
    1,861

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by gingerbee View Post
    Beedeetee
    A small amount of activity and then a large amount would indicate what?
    It could be any of those things. In the late summer it would probably mean robbing. The reason that I look for it is that it usually means something is going on and maybe I should take a look.

    It is just one of those things that I look at as I walk through the bee yard.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Fresno California USA
    Posts
    2,496

    Default Hearing bees

    Gingerbee an apiary in a honeyflow is very noisy!

  19. #19

    Default

    Tom,

    I have a small one, so I imagine the noise level would be different from what you may have experienced. I don't know you or your circumstances, just my observation that the difference in daily flight activity would be hard to hear.

    Beedeetee, we just have a difference in opinion about what activity in an apiary might mean.

    I love my bees, I love the fact that I'm contributing in a positive way to my community through pollination, contributing to sustainable agriculture, diversity in a natural way even though I make little (no) money off it. I want them healthy and happy.

    I don't know the best way to manage colonies but I am learning. And I want my decisions on that based on sound fact rather than guesswork.
    Last edited by gingerbee; 03-14-2009 at 08:02 AM.
    Try to learn something new every day and give thanks for all your blessings.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Lunenburg,N.S. Canada
    Posts
    279

    Default

    Listening.

    Now that is something that I honestly never really thought about. I've heard virgin queens piping and the roar of a hive that has become queenless but those instances are after I'm already "into" the hive.

    It had never occurred to me to actually stop and listen to the sound of an entire apiary! My two yards have five hives each so I'm not sure if that makes a difference but I'll be sure to listen (if it EVER warms up here)

    Perry

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