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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
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    Hillsboro, NH
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    20

    Default How often should we be opening the hive?

    My daughter and love working with the hive, and we have been in it 4 times the last two weeks. we don't open it unless the temp is over 50 degrees. but now that we know that things are well and how fast they are using the syrup, how often should we be opening the hive? We don't want to do harm to the bees.

    -Bill

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Brightwater,Nelson,New Zealand
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    142

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Bill in my opinion you can open your bees as much as you like taking the waether into account of course.
    I dont see that it does them any harm at all especially when they are on a flow and too busy to worry that you are there.
    I open my cell raisers and finishers everyday in the season and dosn't seem to make any difference to them.

    half the fun of having a beehive is getting in amongst it and seeing what they are up too.

    kiwi

  3. #3

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Since you asked, There are varying suggestions you will find in the many books and postings out there.

    Most will likely suggest one shouldn't go through a 'full' inspection more than once a week, others might suggest not more than once every couple weeks and others will go so far as to say that a 'full, comb by comb inspection is only warranted twice a year with lesser inspections that involve more entrance observations and quick checks under the lid sparingly so as to least disturb the hive scent and activity.

    There's a lot one can learn from just watching the entrance. of course, that said, there's a lot to be learned from opening the hive.

    You have to develop a schedule that works best for you and the bees in your yard.

    My own thinking is that each hive and bee yard has it's own 'personality' in terms of what i twill and will not tolerate.

    Big Bear
    No, I am NOT a bee "Keeper". Anything I post is just my opinion. Take it easy and think for yourself.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Kingsley, MI. USA
    Posts
    167

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    This just my two cents. I really don't belive that they don't care how often your in there. (Sorry!)

    http://www.thewarrestore.com/hiveinspections.htm

    Again, just my opinion.

    Chris

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Hillsboro, NH
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    No need to be sorry we like being out there and working with them I just didn't want to hurt anything.

  6. #6

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    I don't know that there is not a proper answer for "should". From the standpoint of the bees, we should never open the hive. Every time we so much as crack a propolis seal, let alone actually move boards or combs, we alter the micro-climate maintained within the hive. That micro-climate is a complex homogeneity of ventilating air currents, temperature and moisture variations, gas compositions, chemical (hormone) mixtures, auditory or vibratory status and signals, right on down to microscopic flora and fauna. It takes time and energy to re-establish a workable micro-climate.

    Some folks will guffaw at the idea of nest scent and temperature. Great. Let them. The bees notice. If not for extreme sensitivity to small changes in atmosphere, how can drones find a virgin on her mating flight when miles away and upwind?!? If you think the bees don't notice, you're delusional.

    There also is your time and labor and enjoyment to consider. Working the bees is, well, work. Plenty of bending and lifting and squinting at tiny things with the sun and sweat in your eyes and that constant tickle in your nose that tells you you're gonna sneeze. And they sting. But watching these critters fly and run about and live their lives and do other bee things on their combs is fascinating, can be watched for hours and is more educational than a whole season of Nova! And it is oddly relaxing seeing them buzz about; just gives you a peaceful feeling that all is right with the world.

    So. Ideally, you disturb the hive once per year - at honey harvest.

    Practically, though, you are unlikely to cause any severe deleterious affects if you're in the hive every day. There may be some brood lost to chilling and you'll probably get a little less honey and maybe more propolis if you aren't careful to scrape every time you're there. Ultimately, if you're in the hive to be a tourist, invest in an observation hive. In fact, get one anyway. They're just fun.
    The World Beehive Project - I build one of every popular beehive in the world!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by beez2010 View Post
    This just my two cents. I really don't belive that they don't care how often your in there. (Sorry!)

    http://www.thewarrestore.com/hiveinspections.htm

    Again, just my opinion.

    Chris
    Being a new 'beekeeper' with only one hive in my garden, it's good to be able to search for answers to questions as they arise. This post was some years ago, but the article in the link above reflects what I feel is right - if someone kept removing the roof of our house to peek inside, I'd get annoyed too... Of course, in Australia we don't have as many problems with our bees, yet it makes sense that if all looks well at the entrance of the hive, why stress the bees unnecessarily? Thanks Chris!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
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    5,408

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    My different and personal opinion:

    I started keeping bees when I was ten years old, because I was fascinated by them, and everything they do. I still am.

    I don't keep bees for honey, I never have. I only recently began raising queens and nucs, in order to share bees with others, and to have them help support themselves.

    I only keep bees so I can watch them do what they do. And now, for more than four decades I've done just that. I open and thoroughly inspect most of my hives, nearly every day. But, since I have so many more these days, it's more like once every second or third day. But I'm watching hives from the inside and out almost all day long. I'ts wonderful.

    Some hives respond well to a little smoke. Others never seem to need any smoke. While some, especially AHB colonies, will virtually abscond if they even small smoke. So, I keep a smoker lit and available while I'm inspecting colonies, but only use it sparingly, when it seems most prudent. I also keep a veil nearby, and use it when I start getting unwanted attention.

    There are so many other things you can learn by frequent and careful observations, but I think it best if you discover them for yourself.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Missoula, Montana
    Posts
    101

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by beez2010 View Post
    This just my two cents. I really don't belive that they don't care how often your in there. (Sorry!)

    http://www.thewarrestore.com/hiveinspections.htm

    Again, just my opinion.

    Chris
    great website adn wonderful insight to beekeeping. much appreciated!

    i'm a new beekeeper. i tend to side with less is more...meaning the observation window and watching the hive entrance are enough for me. i really only want to open the hive when i harvest the honey....i think going into the hive can only hinder the bees' natural way of order/things. so, would it not make sense that we stay out of their way? i tend to see it that way because common sense says so...no amount of inspecting can really "fix" things...it's best to let the bees be bees.

    i have an observation hive and love it. i'm fascinated by going out in the evening and sitting on my milk crate and looking up in the hive and listening...watching...
    Zone4A
    “We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.” -Maclean

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    That's pretty much the way I look at it too...Bees have been doing their 'thing' for thousands of years. We have been the ones to disturb their natural rhythms through our modern agricultural practices. Creating a safe haven for a hive to have its own space and peace to carry on with their normal business seems to make sense to me.I do like your idea of an observation hatch... will investigate this a little further. Right now I just sit to one side of my hive and watch the comings and goings. I see the pollen being brought back, see that they seem quite content... that's enough for me right now...

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Columbus, Indiana
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Sorry im a newbiel, but when you mean when there are on a flow, well can you be more descriptive please.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    4,162

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mikefurst View Post
    Sorry im a newbiel, but when you mean when there are on a flow, well can you be more descriptive please.
    A flow is whenever there is nectar available and the bees are foraging, and hopefully storing away honey. Most everywhere has a Spring flow when all of the trees are in bloom and a lot of areas have another flow in the fall when asters and golden rod are in bloom. In my area bees can starve to death during July and August when it's hot and dry. You should talk to some local bee keepers to find out when your main nectar flows - and the ones that produce the best honey - usually happen.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Thanks, Mike Yes, I'd like to know that too....

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    monterey Ca USA
    Posts
    93

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Screw it... I'm starting a worm farm.....

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,408

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    We don't have much Winter, down here. But sometimes we have several Winter nights with temperatures below freezing. I do work colonies through the Winter. Most Winters I even continue raising small batches of queens. I'd done that for several years in a row, but this past Winter, it did became too cold to continue. Though I was able to start again, quite early in this 2013 season.
    48 years - 50 hives - TF
    Joseph Clemens -- Website Under Constructioni

  16. #16
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Not nearly as exciting, but a lot easier - I have had one for about 3 years and it's great for all the vegetable scraps from cooking

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,681

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by b.walden View Post
    how often should we be opening the hive? We don't want to do harm to the bees.
    I think the knowledge you gain from having your head and hands inside a hive in the learning stage out weighs the potential "setback" it might cause the hive. The first year or two when I started had me looking in quite often. Be as least disrupting as possible. Enjoy learning.
    Regards, Barry

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    28,430

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by b.walden View Post
    how often should we be opening the hive? -Bill
    As often as is necassary to do what you need to do to the colony. Any more is for your benefit, not the bees. But there is nothing wrong w/ that, as long as you don't mind running the risk of doing harm. Too many inspections and you run the risk of harming or killing the queen.
    Mark Berninghausen
    The answers are the end. The questions are the journey. Journey on.



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Bucksport, Maine
    Posts
    177

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Bill,
    It always tickles me to here of families sharing the joy of keeping bees. I want to give you the best possible answer to you question. You both have to learn about your bees and what is going on in the hive. There are lessons in life that your daughter will learn from these visits both from the bees and from you. You cannot ignore the disruption that occurs with each visit. If you go in too often the bees will suffer regardless of the claims of others. You will learn this as you go if you are truly interested in the bees. If your bees don’t make it the first year that is ok because you learned and shared this time with your daughter. You will be ahead with the comb already built for next year. During this first year you will be developing a beekeeping philosophy. It is entirely up to you what you daughter learns about bees, life, and her Dad from this experience. There is “crush, kill, destroy” the stupid insects; let nature do what it does and respect these marvelous creatures, and everything in between. Choose wisely Grasshopper!
    Dave - PM me if you are interested in natural beekeeping in Hancock County Maine.
    http://www.davesbees.com

  20. #20
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Hillsboro, NH
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Hello all:
    I had to change my account name (I was bwalden but I was suddenly unable to post and I can't get a response from the admins so I made a new account). I appreciate all of your responses, we only go in the hive once a week and only on warm days. We keep our visits short to keep the bother to a minimum. we haven't had to work to hard to get into the hive. They are building very straight combs with no cross comb. The bee's have so far been very docile and we have not had to use the smoker (it just seems to piss them off). I am sure we are making mistakes, but we will learn in time. I did not know that it would create such a hubbub. Thanks again for all of your opinions

    - Bill
    Last edited by Bill123; 05-20-2010 at 08:55 PM. Reason: my poor spelling

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