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  1. #1
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    Jan 2010
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    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
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    Jul 2009
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    Brightwater,Nelson,New Zealand
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    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
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    Dec 2009
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    Kingsley, MI. USA
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    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
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    Jan 2010
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    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
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    Sep 2009
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    Dexter, Maine
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    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paraplegic Racehorse View Post

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

    .
    Well, I hope nobody near me takes that advise, I want everyone in my area to inspect for diease and temperment at least a few times a year.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
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    Totnes, Devon, England
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    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    What are you doing opening hives just because the temp is over 50 deg? Leave the bees alone, unless you have a GOOD reason to open them - i.e a better reason than idle curiosity.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  9. #9
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    Brightwater,Nelson,New Zealand
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    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by buckbee View Post
    What are you doing opening hives just because the temp is over 50 deg? Leave the bees alone, unless you have a GOOD reason to open them - i.e a better reason than idle curiosity.
    I dont get this? why do you feel you have to leave the bees alone?

    How will you learn anything about a beehive if you dont know what you are looking at?
    You wont know whats normal ,
    you wont know if your hive conditions have changed
    you wont know if they need feed or pollen or treatments or whether they have a failing queen or about to swarm or anything!

    These guys are new to bees and have the thrill of learning about there bees ahead of them, they should be getting their heads into their hive and learning if they dont the next time you get a post from them it will be...

    Last time we looked in our hive it was fine now it's got no bees and no brood what's wrong what do we do?

    Kiwi

  10. #10
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    Nov 2009
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    Belfast, Ireland
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    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by Paraplegic Racehorse View Post

    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.
    Drones don't find virgins, virgins find drones. The virgin usually flies to a drone congregation area where they mate.

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwiBee View Post
    I dont get this? why do you feel you have to leave the bees alone?

    How will you learn anything about a beehive if you dont know what you are looking at?
    That's true, but beginners need to be careful that they don't do damage especially squashing the queen.

  11. #11
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    Malabar, FL
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    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    open, enjoy, and inspect your hive on a regular basis. Its the only way you are going to learn, and also the only way you will know if a problem arrises. Be careful, move slow, and pay attention, but most of all enjoy!!!! I applaud you getting your daughter involved, both my kids love to go to the beeyards and look at the bees.
    A government large enough to provide everything you need is strong enough to take everything you have. T. Jefferson

  12. #12
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    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by peacekeeperapiaries View Post
    open, enjoy, and inspect your hive on a regular basis. Its the only way you are going to learn, and also the only way you will know if a problem arrises. Be careful, move slow, and pay attention, but most of all enjoy!!!! I applaud you getting your daughter involved, both my kids love to go to the beeyards and look at the bees.
    IMO that is exactly the attitude that has caused so many losses to disease and so-called CCD. The more you disturb a colony, the more you stress them. The more you stress them, the more susceptible to infection they become. The more you open the hive and break their defensive propolis seal, the more opportunities for invasive bacteria and viruses.

    Unlike us, bees have a very limited internal immune system - most of it is externalized as a propolis shield. Every time you open the hive and poke around, you tear up that shield.

    Also, read this article about the importance of maintaining hive atmosphere, which argues strongly against unnecessary disturbance.

    If you want a daily learning opportunity, build yourself an observation hive.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  13. #13
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    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    To say that opening hives causes CCD is a rather wild statement we dont have CCD here in NZ or OZ does that mean none of us are opening our hives? LOL heck no!

    In the spring and summer here there's hardly any propolis in the hives you dont see them bringing it in until Autumn when they are settling down for winter.

    I guess you take what you think to be true and go with it,

    For me that means opening my hives and knowing whats going on with them.
    In the spring and summer it's more intensive, Autumn not hardly and winter practically never.

    As a beekeeper you keep bees and you need to know whats going on in your hive thats really important.
    As a Beehaver you just have bees and dont need to know whats going on in your hive.

    kiwi

  14. #14
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    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwiBee View Post
    To say that opening hives causes CCD is a rather wild statement
    I didn't say that. It's the attitude of unrelenting interference, including multiple medications, that does the damage.

    In the spring and summer here there's hardly any propolis in the hives you dont see them bringing it in until Autumn when they are settling down for winter.
    Then your bees behave differently to mine.

    I guess you take what you think to be true and go with it,
    No, I observe and I use my reasoning ability and draw comparisons to other living things. How well do you think your plants would grow if you dug them up ever week to check the roots were still there?

    As a beekeeper you keep bees and you need to know whats going on in your hive thats really important.
    The bees already know what is going on. They have been evolving here for 50 million years - 20 times longer than us - so I don't find it necessary to 'know' what is going on. It simply is not possible for us to really 'know' in any case - we can only interpret from our perspective, which is not the same thing. Most of what I read about bee behaviour is anthropomorphism: even down to labels like 'queen bee'.

    As a Beehaver you just have bees and dont need to know whats going on in your hive.
    Perjorative language does not constitute an argument, but merely reinforces prejudice.

    If you can only gather information about what is going on in your hives by opening them, then you are limiting yourself as a beekeeper. Simply by using your senses of sight, smell and hearing at the entrance should give you all the information you really need to know.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  15. #15

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

    everyone has their own opinion. Making judgements on others based on those opinions probably isn't the best thing to do. For me, I listen to the bees. I don't consider myself a beekeeper or a bee haver. I am a bee conservationist.

    In my methodology, I let the bees tell me what and how much attention they need.

    If my initial observations of each hive upon arrival at the beeyard indicate there is stress or other possible problems in the hive, I then take the next step to a brief and limited peek inside the hive. if at that time there is more evidence to a problem they might need help with, I will then do a full inspection.

    If at any of these times, there are no indicators of problems, then I limit my inspection to observing and taking information externally.

    I find by studying bee biology and behavior, that the bees are able to tell me when they need assistance instead of imposing what I want to do on them.

    There is a very good book out there called "At The Hive Entrance" by H Storch that goes into explicit detail of what to look for, listen, smell, etc simply by observing the outside of the hive.

    I and others who think similarly do indeed believe that preserving nest scent and environment is of the highest priority.

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

  16. #16
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    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by kiwiBee View Post
    As a beekeeper you keep bees and you need to know whats going on in your hive thats really important. i
    This is correct. The idea that opening the hive too often causes disease is akin to superstition and is not borne out by any facts.

    The most likely factor involved in CCD is large scale migratory beekeeping, especially to the Central Valley of California where one million hives from all over the US and Australia converge to an unbelievable density.

    It can be compared to nothing so much as the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, where the potential for serious epidemics is always a grave concern.

    Egypt prevented dozens of pilgrims over the age of 65 or under 25 from travelling to Mecca as part of measures to prevent the spread of swine flu.

    Pilgrims wanting to go on umrah or hajj must also show airport officials in Cairo medical certificates to prove they do not suffer from any chronic diseases, including diabetes.
    Nothing like this is required for bees' entry into California. There is no testing done for viruses, mites, etc. going in or coming out.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by peterloringborst View Post

    The most likely factor involved in CCD is large scale migratory beekeeping, especially to the Central Valley of California where one million hives from all over the US and Australia converge to an unbelievable density.
    Which might be true if it were not the case that most of the hives were DOA in California, or so soon afterwards that there is no chance they caught anything there.

    Check the research at Penn State: multiple pesticide residues + pyrethroids + coumaphos - much of it added by beekeepers. Migratory beekeeping is damaging, of course, but you can't pin CCD on it.
    The Barefoot Beekeeper http://www.biobees.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: How often should we be opening the hive?

    Quote Originally Posted by buckbee View Post
    Which might be true if it were not the case that most of the hives were DOA in California, or so soon afterwards that there is no chance they caught anything there.

    Check the research at Penn State: multiple pesticide residues + pyrethroids + coumaphos - much of it added by beekeepers. Migratory beekeeping is damaging, of course, but you can't pin CCD on it.
    First of all, I carefully worded my statement so that nobody would think that I was "pinning" anything on migratory beekeeping. However, in your statements you leave out several aspects.

    One, the hives "coming in" to California were most likely there the previous spring and could have acquired any number of novel pathogens. Most bee viruses exist in hives as latent or non-apparent infections.

    Which sets the stage for this scenario. They pick up the "germs" while on the road (California, Florida, Maine) where there are other migratory outfits bleeding off sick bees.

    They go off and endure further stressful conditions (winter, sheds, drought, other pollination jobs, etc). WHen they are brought back to California, they are collapsing and spewing sick and dying bees everywhere, passing the pathogens to surrounding hives.

    So you have a cycle, which worsens each year. Dave Hackenburg, the first to suggest that CCD was some new and different problem, is saying that this winter is the worst yet.

    None of this "causes" CCD. It might have set the stage for an epidemic, however.

  19. #19

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

    c'mon guys, really? now you're going to hijack this thread for another argument?

    No wonder people are getting tired of you.

    The man asked a question about what people think is appropriate for going into a hive. it's fine to express opinions, but anymore, things are just getting too carried away.

    Bottom line, each person needs to decide for themselves, based on their own unique set of circumstances, experience and geography on how to manage their hives.

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

  20. #20

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

    Quote Originally Posted by bigbearomaha View Post
    The man asked a question about what people think is appropriate for going into a hive. it's fine to express opinions, but anymore, things are just getting too carried away.

    Bottom line, each person needs to decide for themselves, based on their own unique set of circumstances, experience and geography on how to manage their hives.
    I agree. Ultimately, they're your bees. Keep them how you like and I will keep mine how I like. Eventually, you will form and hold opinions about what is appropriate and what is not. Until then, just do what feels right.

    I still say you should get an observation hive, though. Every beekeeper should keep an observation hive for at least one season. The education is invaluable.
    Last edited by Paraplegic Racehorse; 05-16-2010 at 05:46 PM. Reason: fix a bbcode object
    The World Beehive Project - I build one of every popular beehive in the world!

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