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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Worcester, MA, USA
    Posts
    61

    Default Estimating the population of a hive

    Hi all,

    My two tbh's seem to be doing well (despite cross-combing that makes management less than fun). They've each built out about 18 bars and the traffic at the front of the hive is tremendous. I was wondering, just out of curiosity, if there's a way to estimate population based on that? My hive is about 12" tall, 18" wide at the top and 6" at the bottom.

    As an aside, I was a bit disappointed not to find any capped honey (but lots of nectar) in there. Seems they should have been building stores, right? This is my first year at this and I have not been good about regular inspections. If fact I haven't looked inside since early July when I did see a little capped honey - and robbed about 10" square inches of comb 'cause I just HAD to try it!

    Thanks,
    Matt

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

    Default Re: Estimating the population of a hive

    Hey Matt, I wouldn't worry about the actual population as far as actual number of bees go. I kinda keep track of the density
    of the bees on the comb, on the side of the hive, etc. You'll notice when there's a significant population change. There could
    be combs with almost no bees on them if you have a population drop, or things could look really crowded when a big emergence
    of brood happens and they haven't caught up with building comb. Watching the entrance activity is good. It can tell you if things
    are normal or not. Noticing how big the orientation flights in the evenings are can give you an idea also.
    Look for what's not the norm. If something seems strange, go in and take a look. Oh, and also when a hive is building up,
    they're gonna use up the stores to feed brood first. Then when enough starts coming in to keep the brood fed, they'll start storing it.
    Last edited by Steven Ogborn; 09-02-2012 at 03:19 PM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Worcester, MA, USA
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: Estimating the population of a hive

    Thanks for the feedback Steven. I'm not particularly worried about the population #'s... really just wondered how it compared the 3lbs I put in to start the hive at the start of the season. I'd guess that there are about 2x as many but its hard to say. All the combs are covered in bees at the moment.

    i suppose I should start thinking about feeding to get through the winter as there is a lot of brood cooking still. Nights are getting cool here. First frost is just a few short weeks away...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Worcester, MA, USA
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: Estimating the population of a hive

    Just for fun, here's a 40 second clip of the activity at the hive entrance before I went in for a look:


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Denison, Texas
    Posts
    510

    Default Re: Estimating the population of a hive

    If you're worried about stores, go ahead and feed some. Then go in and see if anything has changed. I'm not talking about putting a gallon on them. A couple of quarts ought to tell you something.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rockford, MI
    Posts
    2,534

    Default Re: Estimating the population of a hive

    I was reading that a typical Lang hive set up will hold 60k bees. Another article said closer to 100k bees.
    My TBH I figure has between 70-80k and is still growing. Last check I had 24 of 29 bars filled.
    As far as capped honey, you should have at least 30-40# per TBH at this point in the season in a perfect scenario.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Estimating the population of a hive

    The Worker Bees in the video above are grumpy because they are evicting the Drones, usually a big mess of dead drones infront of the hive for a week.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Bonn, Germany
    Posts
    120

    Default Re: Estimating the population of a hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Gwinn View Post
    Hi all,
    ....
    and the traffic at the front of the hive is tremendous.

    I was wondering, just out of curiosity, if there's a way to estimate population based on that?
    No.
    Estimating the population of a hive without openinig it is not accurate. It is uncertain and doubtful.
    You could try a temperature and acoustic methods.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Worcester, MA, USA
    Posts
    61

    Default Re: Estimating the population of a hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Che Guebuddha View Post
    The Worker Bees in the video above are grumpy because they are evicting the Drones, usually a big mess of dead drones infront of the hive for a week.
    It looked like that was happening but I wan't sure if it was just my imagination... I'll go out and look for the dead drones. Lots of drone cells in there.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Worcester, MA, USA
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    61

    Default Re: Estimating the population of a hive

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Gwinn View Post
    It looked like that was happening but I wan't sure if it was just my imagination... I'll go out and look for the dead drones. Lots of drone cells in there.
    Interesting. No drones at the entrance this week! No dead drones on the ground either, but none coming or going from the entrance.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Estimating the population of a hive

    Ants will try and harvest those dead drones fast at this time of the year. I have seen Hornets taking away dead Drones infront of the hive.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,760

    Default Re: Estimating the population of a hive

    You can't exptrapolate anything about the population of a colony by the activity at the entrance. Usually on counts frames of brood covered in bees and forms and estimate or assesment of strength (not an actual number per se, simply weak, moderately strong, strong) of population and then whether there is enough honey stored to maintain that colony.

    I disagree w/ the term grumpy used to describe activity at the entrance. Certainly active. Apparently a warm and sunny day. Probably at the peak of flight that day? When did you take that video? I noticed the drones, but they seemed to me to be exiting the hive on their own, not being ejected. Besides, it's way too early for that to be happening here in the Notheast.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

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