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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Austin, TX
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    80

    Default Just when I think I understand them, they send me back to the drawing board

    Sorry for the lack of description in the subject line.

    Finally, I think I get how to keep my bees. They'd been having anger issues, then I discovered they were not queenright.

    They got a new queen and started doing better. Their attitude completely changed for the better. They were blowing me kisses. I thought all was well.

    Then, they lost a bunch of honeycomb in the heat (which I removed, and know now that I should have left behind. My bad.) But they still loved me (though I didn't finish the inspection because I didn't want to stress them.)

    Today, I see new capped worker brood (Yeah! First time in a looooong time.) But they're ticked.

    It's been very hot, but less hot the last few days.

    All was well when I inspected the back of the hive (honeycomb), but when I started getting into the brood, they were ticked. They were boiling out. Bees were everywhere covering everything. Smoke would not getting them to do down. When I gently blew on them, they did not go down. Instead, they became very agitated. I can't tell if they were head butting me or not, but they were coming up to my face and they all would dart around the hive where I blew.

    Amazingly, I didn't get a single sting. I thought I would.

    Nothing made them happy. What gives?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
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    Winhall, VT
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    1,066

    Default Re: Just when I think I understand them, they send me back to the drawing board

    It's hot. Bees get pissy in the heat. Provide some shade and water and leave them alone.
    Raising Vermont Bees one mistake at a time.
    USDA Zone 5A

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Austin, TX
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    Default Re: Just when I think I understand them, they send me back to the drawing board

    Quote Originally Posted by Keth Comollo View Post
    It's hot.... leave them alone.
    It's going to be hot all summer. How often should I check them?



    p.s. I love your signature tag.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Just when I think I understand them, they send me back to the drawing board

    Keep in mind that unemployed foragers can be recruited back to being guards. There are plenty of reasons why you may see heightened aggression, a dearth being one of them. Not only would there be more foragers not in the field, but the bees would be more defensive of both honey and brood.

    Queenless hives can be more aggressive or more peaceful. Last fall I tried to save a queenless swarm, no clue what I was doing. They were always angry. Now I have a queenless nuc, and the bees act extremely docile, as if they are depressed that they don't have a queen.

    People always want some sort of cheat sheet for beekeeping. Like a flow chart, if this, that, and this are happening, this is the problem...but it doesn't work like that. To some extent perhaps. But the example above taught me. I thought queenless hives were always aggressive. Now I've learned different.

    I'd try not to bother them when its too hot out. You should be able to get away with only doing inspections once every two weeks, and that's still a lot. You've got a window to see in, that's all you need! Good luck.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    Austin, TX
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    Default Re: Just when I think I understand them, they send me back to the drawing board

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Brueggen View Post
    You've got a window to see in, that's all you need! Good luck.
    Fair enough, I've got a window. It's true that I do not use my window. At the beginning I would look in the window, and then I'd break into the hive. After a while, I thought, why bother with the window since I always crack into the hive.

    I think the problem with the window is, I didn't know what to look for. I'm just learning what to look for while in the hive when I'm in there. And I'm not always sure.

    When I look in the window, all I can really tell is 1) Yep, there are a bunch of bees, and 2) Cool, they're drawing wax.

    Is that enough?

    One of the backyardhives.com videos shows a man laying on top of his hive (no suit) with bees buzzing around him. When interviewed, he says that he only checks his hive once a hear to collect honey. I'm sure most here would find that extreme, it does make me wonder why I'm checking them weekly.

    It makes me wonder if I need to check them at all.

    Maybe he just does window inspections and maybe that's all I need to do.

    Do I need to see something beyond 1) Yep, and 2) Cool?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
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    DFW area, TX, USA
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    1,050

    Thumbs Up Re: Just when I think I understand them, they send me back to the drawing board

    Quote Originally Posted by KatGold View Post
    ...snip...When I look in the window, all I can really tell is 1) Yep, there are a bunch of bees, and 2) Cool, they're drawing wax...snip...It makes me wonder if I need to check them at all.

    Maybe he just does window inspections and maybe that's all I need to do.

    Do I need to see something beyond 1) Yep, and 2) Cool?
    You will learn nothing if you don't sit outside the hive and watch, look inside the hive and see how things are supposed to look and note when something changes....When you have your finger on the pulse of the hive, you can make a diference when it matters. You can be independent and proficient once you learn about the hive....Otherwise not.

    Keep your motives for beekeeping in mind as you decide your inspection regimine. Then, balance what is best for your motives and the needs of the bees. They can survive a lot of interference by you and me. I keep bees because I like having them around. I don't care about the honey. I'm cursed with a curious mind, and curious minds want to know things. Sometimes that curiosity sets them back. As long as I don't squish the queen, introduce AFB with my hive tool, take their winter stores or perpetrate some catastrophic harm to the colony, I'm fine with it. Do no harm, but watch and inspect enough to satisfy your curosity and become proficient as a responsible beekeeper. One visit a year is not enough to really 'look after' your bees.

    My 2 cents, HTH
    Last edited by Lburou; 06-30-2012 at 09:34 PM.
    LeeB
    I try to learn from my mistakes, and from yours when you give me a heads up :)

  7. #7

    Default Re: Just when I think I understand them, they send me back to the drawing board

    I too have been checking mine about once a week, but I am also cursed with the curious mind. I know I don't need to do it that often, but I enjoy making sure things are tidy. When I first started my hive I only looked through the window for about three weeks, and watched as they built crooked comb. Now I like to check once a week or so just to make sure they don't get out of line. Once they are squared up I'll let them be.

    I've been experimenting with my hives a lot too. I just started with my first package on Easter, and now I'm up to 4 hives and have already raised my own queens. I just want to learn so much more! Next up is a foundationless Lang and some more scientific queen breeding efforts, just for the sake of learning. I want to know all that I can now in preparation for ramping up next spring.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Austin, TX
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    Default Re: Just when I think I understand them, they send me back to the drawing board

    Wow Tom! You just started in April of THIS year with one package, and now you've put to two hives and are raising queens? Holy cow!

    Do you ever get to Austin?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Just when I think I understand them, they send me back to the drawing board

    Quote Originally Posted by KatGold View Post

    Do you ever get to Austin?
    Haha, I was just there yesterday! Do you know of Round Rock Honey? I'm taking a position with them as an educator for their beekeeping classes here in Houston. I was out yesterday for introductions and to sit in on a class for training.

    My philosophy on beekeeping for right now, is that I'd rather lose a hive in an attempt to learn, than learn by losing one later. I read up as much as I can on each subject, such as splitting a hive, but what good is knowledge without practice?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
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    Austin, TX
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    Default Re: Just when I think I understand them, they send me back to the drawing board

    Dang the bad timing! I'd have invited you over to hang with my bees and me.

    Okay, let's get this straight. You are as newly a newly as I, and now you're working for RRH as an educator in share of the Houston classes? Wow!

  11. #11

    Default Re: Just when I think I understand them, they send me back to the drawing board

    Indeed. They were advertising on Craigslist that they needed teachers. I responded with what qualifications I had. I met one of the owners in Houston to help set up the hives, and I guess he was happy enough with the skills I had that they asked me to do it. I'm really excited about it.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Baytown, TX., USA.
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    Default Re: Just when I think I understand them, they send me back to the drawing board

    Tom B.;

    Good, helpful post.

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