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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Falls Church, VA
    Posts
    226

    Default Open hive and aggression

    I've been taking my hive apart about once a week. I remove a bar and if it has comb, place it on a stand so I can study it and rotate it. About three minutes per hive. Replace and repeat. About nine combs so far.

    I don't know if as I go from rear to front I get into more aggressive bees, or as someone said, "you have the hive open too long".
    Assuming the later, I need to keep a two-three bar space so I can move bars around.

    Anyone have a trick for keeping the hive as closed as possible, or for keeping the ladies quiet? - Mike

    PS - it's day 21 since they went in, so someone is having a birthday today!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: Open hive and aggression

    Smoke, or a spray bottle with a little HBH and water.
    I've used the HBH spray this spring when I suspect a queenless hive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Posts
    1,973

    Default Re: Open hive and aggression

    As you take out a bar and put it back in to move to the next one, always make sure you push the ones you've looked at together behind you. Leave no space open, other than what you need to get the next bar out. If you leave little gaps, the bees will get mobilized and start coming at you. On the other hand, if you close up the spaces, it keeps them warm, and vastly reduces the actual comb surface area that is exposed. that means fewer flying bees.

    Beyond that, the longer you take the more the bees will get exasperated with you and begin to try and sting you. You should work toward being fast. You said "about three minutes per hive", but I think you meant "three minutes per comb". If that's true, then you're in the hive for about a half an hour. That's a long time.

    I know you want to get into them a lot when you're new, but once a week is a lot. If you have window in your top bar hives, it allows you to check on their progress without opening them up.

    I only open mine a handful of times per year, and I'm hoping that I will get my understanding to a point where it can be less.

    Adam

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,797

    Default Re: Open hive and aggression

    A puff of smoke when you start. Another when they start to get more aggressive...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Siloam Springs, Arkansas
    Posts
    123

    Default Re: Open hive and aggression

    Maybe you should consider what 're-arrange' means, and adjust accordingly if it is doing harm.

    Which is not a function of the agitated bees, however.
    Trying techniques that I doubt will work because I like to be right!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Charles Town, WV
    Posts
    306

    Default Re: Open hive and aggression

    Hey, Mike... Maybe one day after work I can come by and help out and get a better feel for what you're doing and how your bees are responding. I am by no means an expert, though.

    Here are some thoughts:

    - Be slow and methodical. Try not to bang anything against the hive, such as your tools, bar stand, or anything else.
    - Before you move a bar, make sure it's not attached to the sides. Use a bread knife placed against the sloped wall of the hive, and carefully cut UPward, then slide the knife out of the way. Use it to pry the bar lose on both ends.
    - Lift the bar straight up. There'll be a crecendo of buzz when you do, but they usually quiet back down. Inspect the bar for whatever you're looking for, then place it back down. Use a 'bee down' strip or the scissor technique or whatever works best for you to keep from squishing bees. They don't like it when their sisters get squished!
    - I keep a water bottle with me. When the guards get agitated and start really buzzing my head, I'll pump some water mist right in front of my face and just stand still a bit. They usually settle back down.
    - Keep your lit smoker handy (I still struggle to keep mine lit) and use it as MB described above. If they get wound up, a few puffs in the air around you and one or two at the bar you're working on. Then set it down and let them have 30 seconds to relax before you move again.
    - Once you're done, move all the bars (singly, or several at at time if you can) back into place, or insert empty bars if you need to give them more room.

    When I do a full, thorough inspection, it can take a half hour or more to do the whole hive. I go slow, I pause often to let them settle, I try to not squish any of them (of course, I do squish some, but try not to).

    Bruce

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Falls Church, VA
    Posts
    226

    Default Re: Open hive and aggression

    Mike - looking forward to seeing you in DC this summer - Mike
    I use smoke and I try an keep it minimal and cool

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Falls Church, VA
    Posts
    226

    Default Re: Open hive and aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Ozone View Post
    Maybe you should consider what 're-arrange' means, and adjust accordingly if it is doing harm.

    Which is not a function of the agitated bees, however.
    The only re-arrangement is the removal of three blank bars that are against the follower, then the sliding of each bar back, with an inspection of each bar, followed by replacement iback n it's place. At the end, everything gets shoved forward. - Mike

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Falls Church, VA
    Posts
    226

    Default Re: Open hive and aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by Merlinspop View Post
    Hey, Mike... Maybe one day after work I can come by and help out and get a better feel for what you're doing and how your bees are responding. I am by no means an expert, though.

    Here are some thoughts:

    - Be slow and methodical. Try not to bang anything against the hive, such as your tools, bar stand, or anything else.
    - Before you move a bar, make sure it's not attached to the sides. Use a bread knife placed against the sloped wall of the hive, and carefully cut UPward, then slide the knife out of the way. Use it to pry the bar lose on both ends.
    - Lift the bar straight up. There'll be a crecendo of buzz when you do, but they usually quiet back down. Inspect the bar for whatever you're looking for, then place it back down. Use a 'bee down' strip or the scissor technique or whatever works best for you to keep from squishing bees. They don't like it when their sisters get squished!
    - I keep a water bottle with me. When the guards get agitated and start really buzzing my head, I'll pump some water mist right in front of my face and just stand still a bit. They usually settle back down.
    - Keep your lit smoker handy (I still struggle to keep mine lit) and use it as MB described above. If they get wound up, a few puffs in the air around you and one or two at the bar you're working on. Then set it down and let them have 30 seconds to relax before you move again.
    - Once you're done, move all the bars (singly, or several at at time if you can) back into place, or insert empty bars if you need to give them more room.

    When I do a full, thorough inspection, it can take a half hour or more to do the whole hive. I go slow, I pause often to let them settle, I try to not squish any of them (of course, I do squish some, but try not to).

    Bruce
    That would be great! That assumes you work further in than Falls Church? - Mike

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Charles Town, WV
    Posts
    306

    Default Re: Open hive and aggression

    Quote Originally Posted by mhorowit View Post
    That would be great! That assumes you work further in than Falls Church? - Mike
    I drive to either Leesburg or Hamilton then catch a bus from there into DC. So I'd actually be double backing to go see. Or maybe we can work out a Sat or Sun. Maybe one day I can drive further in and park at the Vienna metro station and then double back to your place after work.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    Lyons, CO
    Posts
    3,027

    Default Re: Open hive and aggression

    There must be some mistake. I have it on good authority that bees in top bar hives never sting . Keeping inspections brief and goal-oriented (check for eggs, monitor for space needs and out) and judicious smoke use will improve your (and their) experience.
    Bees, brews and fun
    in Lyons, CO

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Chickamauga, Walker County, Georgia
    Posts
    383

    Default Re: Open hive and aggression

    This weekend, we definitely found Adam's admonition to be true: the number of openings had a direct correlation to the manifestation of defensive behavior. As the number of openings was reduced, the defense subsided. In the second hive inspection, when we were careful to keep the bars together, defensive behavior did not manifest.

    It definitely seems to be associated with the light, I think, not heat, because we found that by temporarily covering the open space with an inverted top-bar slid into place (holding our fingers then over each end of the gap to further block the light), the bees soon lost interest in that opening and we could then (removing the temporary bar again of course) close it up using the usual jiggle. When bees are "boiling up," and body-slamming you and so on, that's defense and you've got to check that. You can never push the bars together under those conditions: first you must block the light and then wait a moment.

    The best way: Make a two-bar or-so opening, then start "moving that opening" from one end to the other as needed, closing-up each bar against the one behind it such that the one gap remains about the same size as it moves forward.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Location
    Postville, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    380

    Default Re: Open hive and aggression

    Beekeepers with Warre hives will use a cloth to cover any openings. Obviously if you are removing a top bar, you have to have an uncovered opening. But what about temporarily covering the opening you've made in the hive with a cloth while you inspect the bar you've removed?

    I will say that taking about 3 minutes to inspect each bar is rather long, and it doesn't surprise me that the bees get testy. On a hot day, you will probably regret going through the hive that slowly. Fresh comb won't tolerate being in the sun for that long without breaking, especially with honey in it.

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