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  1. #61
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,111

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

    This is only my second year, but it looks to me like there are some pretty good reasons to look in fairly regularly.

    1) When a flow is on you need to check to see if they need more room or if you have honey that you could harvest.

    2) When there's a dearth of necter you might want to check to make sure they don't starve.

    3) If you live in an area where SHB are a potential problem, you need to make sure they aren't getting out of hand - there's no way of knowing other than opening it up that I'm aware of.

    4) If they requeen for any reason that is all well and good, but if the new queen doesn't make it back from mating, and you don't take action you might have to deal with a laying worker when a frame of brood would have taken care of everything.

    5) If you don't do inspections you might miss chances to make increase and prevent swarms - or at least minimize their impact.

    I probably pester my bees more than I (or they) need - but it's not as much of an issue now that I have a few more hives. I say that as long as you are in learning mode get in there (or don't) when ever you see fit. When you are no longer in learning mode - well, I guess you'll be wanting a good rocking chair - or a new hobby.

  2. #62
    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.

  3. #63
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Cookeville, TN, USA
    Posts
    4,111

    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.

  4. #64
    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!

  5. #65
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,401

    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

  6. #66
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Summerfield, NC
    Posts
    67

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

    "Why?" is probably more important than "How often?"

    I opened a few hives almost every day this week, and I really didn't want to disturb them because the flow has started, but they had issues I felt I needed to take care of. For example, one hive only had a small handful of bees and a queen covering two frames; no brood suggests that the hive swarmed last week and I missed it. Another had more hive beetles in it than I wanted to see. A third is an attempt at a walk-away split, but I'll try grafting in a few days if they don't have a queen cell started (not sure if I gave them any eggs/larva).

    I try to have a firm plan in mind before I do anything, and I try to keep track of what I am doing, what I expect to see, and when I need to check it again. Obviously, the bees screw with my plans sometimes, but that's when I close up and modify the plans. The hive that I think has swarmed was booming a few weeks ago; I had planned to add empty supers of drawn comb. Instead, I closed up after finding no evidence of pests/disease. The next day, I did a newspaper combine with a super full of bees and capped honey from another hive, in hopes that the extra hands will help it get going. I gave the other hive the empty super, since they had already filled up four and were heavily congested. Maybe it'll work, maybe it won't...but I like to have an idea of what I want to do and see before I bother with opening a hive. When I have to adapt, I do so without worrying about how long it's been since I've opened the hive, whether it's been a day or three months.

  7. #67
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    6

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

    Thank you for your post, Joseph. That's why forums are such a great source and worthwhile for 'newbies' such as me. So much to learn and so many different views.
    I suppose by looking at your bees on an almost daily basis, they know you and the fact you're not a threat to them. Perhaps I just need to get more confidence over time, as I do use a smoker each time I open my hive and also wear my bee-suit. One day I hope to be just like you and the beekeepers I see on video clips who wear their normal clothes... May be a little while yet

  8. #68
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Perth, Australia
    Posts
    6

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

    Thanks for that too, David. Yes it all makes sense. We are going into winter now in Australia. I took only very little honey (only 7 kg) after having my hive for 4 months, and left most of what they'd produced for them to have over the winter months, as I don't really want to feed them with sugar. Do you open your hive as much in winter too?

  9. #69
    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....

  10. #70
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    monterey Ca USA
    Posts
    83

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

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

  11. #71
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Tucson, Arizona, USA
    Posts
    5,401

    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

  12. #72
    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

  13. #73
    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

  14. #74
    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...

  15. #75
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Fort Walton Beach, Florida
    Posts
    1,256

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

    As a beginner, I spend a lot of time looking at the hives from the outside, but I've been looking at them frame by frame nearly weekly. This isn't optimal for the colony. I imagine, but the purpose these bees are serving is to be my teachers this first year.

    Also, my first hives are long hives, and getting bees to expand sideways seems to take more effort than letting them expand vertically. On my older hive, which has been booming, I add a frame or two to the brood nest nearly every week. It's gone from a 5 frame nuc to 20 frames so far.

    Anyway, I learn something, good or bad, every time I get into the hives. if I had a bunch of hives, I'd bother them less, and they'd surely do better, but... it's self-education time now.

  16. #76
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,333

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

    Amazingly this book is available to all online as a pdf

    http://www.kootenaybees.ca/At%20the%...20Entrance.pdf

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