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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Dunlap, TN, USA
    Posts
    146

    Default Any disadvantages to an observation window?

    I built my Top Bar Hive last fall prior to owning any other hives or bees. Originally I planned on putting in a small observation window on the side with a closing cover board. I ended up NOT installing the window but I still have a sheet of plexiglass laying around. I watched a video last night of one with a window and it really made me want to get out there and install it after all.

    Does anyone have any experience with these and are there any advantages/disadvantages to having one on the hive?

    .... As a secondary question, I'm using popsicle sticks that are inserted into my top bars as a comb guides. Anyone had experience using popsicle sticks?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Any disadvantages to an observation window?

    I have some tongue depressors in a hive with bees on them right now...will let you know how it worked once they've drawn a bit of comb.

    As far as the observation window, I'd put it in close to the entrance (looking at the brood comb), so you have the opportunity to spy on the queen & practice spotting her w/o having to tear the hive apart...now I think I need to go buy a piece of glass & take my own advise

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Any disadvantages to an observation window?

    I like the observation window. You can glean a lot of information about how the colony is doing without disturbing the nest. I'd agree with robherc on the placement. The more you can see of the colony the better. My window is dead center on the side and there are many times when I wish I could see a few bars closer to the front. It is also great for show and tell when friends visit. I'd say be sure that when you put the cover on the window the hive is dark. I think the bees appreciate that.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Murfreesboro, TN, USA
    Posts
    318

    Default Re: Any disadvantages to an observation window?

    The observation windows are okay, but you really can't see much except the edges of comb right by the window. You do get an idea of how far along in the hive the bees are working. I've never seen the queen thru the window. The best thing is that it is an easy way to impress people without freaking them out. If you build one, make sure you have something in between the glass and the cover during the Winter to prevent condensation. We use styrofoam. You can also use the piece of wood you cut out to make the window as your insulator.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,976

    Default Re: Any disadvantages to an observation window?

    They're more work and money to build. That's the only downside in my opinion.

    But I have them on all of my full-sized tbh's. As Steve says, you're unlikely to see the queen and you are limited to looking between combs. That said, I'd prefer having them for two main reasons:

    1 - I can look at the bees without disturbing the temperature of the hive and with minimal disruption. That includes all winter. I have been able to monitor the clusters all winter long. I can monitor spring build up - and have even seen queen cells. I have seen mites when they were bad. The information you get with a window is a lot greater than the information you get without one.

    2 - the glass provides a condenser for water vapor. The glass is cold, and moister condenses there first, and runs down that side. Less water condensing above the cluster.

    You want them closer to the entrance end. It will frustrate you if you don't. My newest ones are 40" long on a 48" hive. I usually only open them at night, and look in with a small flashlight. Truer sense of bee numbers, less disruptive than a blast of sunlight.

    Adam

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Any disadvantages to an observation window?

    Quote Originally Posted by SteveBee View Post
    If you build one, make sure you have something in between the glass and the cover during the Winter to prevent condensation.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    2 - the glass provides a condenser for water vapor. The glass is cold, and moister condenses there first, and runs down that side. Less water condensing above the cluster.
    I was thinking what Adam said there...water that condenses on the "window" runs harmlessly down the side wall.....
    BUT, I guess that could get annoying when you're trying to OBSERVE the hive through your "observation" window, so maybe just make it double-pane? One plate of glass on the inside of the wall, one on the outside and...voila, double-paned, insulated window; just need to add a windowshade now...


    P.S. Although I prefer & highly recommend real glass for an inside pain, there are decent arguments for maybe making the OUTSIDE pane out of plexi....kids' balls, lawnmowers+rocks, etc...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,976

    Default Re: Any disadvantages to an observation window?

    Quote Originally Posted by robherc View Post
    I was thinking what Adam said there...water that condenses on the "window" runs harmlessly down the side wall.....
    BUT, I guess that could get annoying when you're trying to OBSERVE...

    ...there are decent arguments for maybe making the OUTSIDE pane out of plexi....kids' balls, lawnmowers+rocks, etc...
    First, you don't get condensation during the summer, unless it gets really cool. Even in the winter, the condensation tends to form away from the cluster. So you can usually see no matter what.

    Second, you should have a wooden cover for the window. That cover protects the glass, and keeps it dark in there. If you don't cover it, the hive will be a greenhouse during the day and the combs will get too soft. The bees would likely abscond.

    Adam

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Calhoun Co, Texas, USA
    Posts
    1,310

    Default Re: Any disadvantages to an observation window?

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    First, you don't get condensation during the summer, unless it gets really cool.
    I live on the Gulf Coast...I get condensation on the outside of my car windows nearly every evening (Spring, Summer, Fall, and part of the Winter)...that's why I was thinking of the condensation being an issue.

    Quote Originally Posted by Adam Foster Collins View Post
    Second, you should have a wooden cover for the window. That cover protects the glass, and keeps it dark in there. If you don't cover it, the hive will be a greenhouse during the day and the combs will get too soft. The bees would likely abscond.
    Good point, I had mentioned a "window shade" in my post, but using just about anything solid to shade the window would eliminate the advantage of plexi...so yeah, I have to give you that one.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Nueces, TX, USA
    Posts
    139

    Default Re: Any disadvantages to an observation window?

    I live on the gulf coast as well and don't have any problems with my observation window. I look in there quite often to see what is going on. It does have a cover over it though.

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