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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Clark, Mo, USA
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    24

    Default How often do you check production hives?

    I was wanting to pick the brain of experienced commercial beekeepers. I'm just starting out, and was wondering how often and how much time you spend on production hive inspections. I would like to grow my number of colonies slowly as I learn and I realize that i have to be effecient with my time. Currently i check my 5 hives once a week during the spring, summer, and early fall. I spend about one hour total each week and i feel like i'm moving pretty quick. During my fall full inspection I spent more like an hour and forty-five for all five hives. If you would chime in on how long you inspect each hive and how often i would really appreciate it. Thanks, Jordan

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
    Posts
    1,693

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    We spend 5+ minutes per production hive every two weeks. Check broodnest for eggs, need for honey supers, swarming possibility, and other basic neccessities.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,200

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    How often do you check your nonproduction hives?
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    939

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    We spend 15+ minutes per production hive every two weeks. Check broodnest for eggs, evaluate queen, pest & diseases, need for honey supers, swarming possibility, pull nucs, and other basic responsibilities. If something catches our eye, we dig deeper.
    I have exactly ONE hive more than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond question.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Wilmington, NC, 28403
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    Production hives - we don't do frame by frame inspections or look through hives just to see how they are doing at any point in the year. We are in the hives often enough doing things we have to do - medicating, feeding syrup or pollen sub, splitting, requeening, etc. that we do whatever checking we need to do simultaneously. Usually we are simply "looking" for something out of place - behavior, sound, amount of bees, etc. - something noticeably different than the other colonies in the same yard. Most problem colonies are obvious to the practiced eye and ear. There are several times during the year that we are are a little more deliberate and check for eggs, scrape bottoms, etc. - usually after late winter medication, after summer medication, simultaneous to last feeding pass in the fall. Financial and time pressures of running enough hives to make a living will make you more efficient if you let it and keep your thinking cap on.
    Last edited by 2dumb; 11-30-2012 at 07:35 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,617

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    Under the "Bull of the Woods", you had 4 minutes to open, inspect 10 brood frames, add/subtract any supers, and close it up. We are closer to the 6 minute mark, but the Bull was pre mites.

    Crazy roland

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Wilmington, NC, 28403
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    "Inspect 10 frames". Roland, are you running singles?
    "Too dumb to run too proud to quit."

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,617

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    Single deep brood chambers, less frames to inspect, plenty of room for the queen. We make the rounds sooner in the spring, stretching out as the year goes.

    Crazy Roland

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Amador County, Calif
    Posts
    3,161

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    Wholey smokes... you guys are checking and evaluating queens every two weeks. Shoot you got me beat by a long shot. Now I know why you don't have time to feed sub.
    NUTRA-BEE feed supplements

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
    Posts
    2,617

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    No Kieth, checking for CCD that often. Dead bees don't need supplements.

    Crazy Roland

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Maricopa, Ariz, USA
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    I'm with 2dumb on this one. I figure 1 man per 1000 hives to make it work......at the 15 minute rate per, a man working 12 hours daily.....7 days a week.... will finish 336 hives a week. That doesn't work for me....guys need to identify and correct problem hives in a couple of minutes while performing other work and move on. Now.....finding and killing African Queens......that's a different story, them buggers can be HARD to find, and must be killed, VERY time consuming.
    Last edited by dback; 11-30-2012 at 08:33 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Salem, Oregon
    Posts
    939

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    Quote Originally Posted by Keith Jarrett View Post
    Shoot you got me beat by a long shot.
    Of course, you are talking about my forklift...
    Again I have to state that being commercial does not mean running a half ass operation.
    I made a decision early on that I would never attempt more hives than I could properly care for. that has held true.
    My total loss ( peak 2012 - almonds) looks like 5.5%. I have had years below 3%
    So yes, that is exactly what we do when possible. No excuses.
    I have exactly ONE hive more than you.
    That makes my opinion beyond question.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Grand Rapids, Ohio
    Posts
    858

    Cool Re: How often do you check production hives?

    If they are producing why mess with them. Its the non producing hive you have to worry about.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,239

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    Shoot we are only beekeepers about 3 months out of the year. The rest of the time we are box movers, or box stackers. Feed em when they are hungry, super em when they are full, so easy a cave man could do it.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    1,693

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    How often do you check your nonproduction hives?
    Non-honey production hives (Q-rearing and etc) and weak or "worrying" hives get checked once a week max.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
    Posts
    4,239

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    I think what just these few posts should point out to the OP is that commercial operations can operate in many different ways. From my perspective, once a nuc has "caught" a queen in the early spring and is up and running there isnt any reason to tear into it through the rest of the year. Through the summer and fall we only take the time to inspect a hive to do routine mite checks or if there is reason to suspect that there is some sort of problem. Hives that arent growing and producing need to be checked at the first sign something is amiss or else the next time through it may have turned into a box full of wax moth or shb but this should be a relatively small number. Our goals are to have all of our hives producing through the summer, if they appear normal upon opening them thats plenty good enough for me, any additional time spent browsing through them is just "burning daylight". I dare say I am not alone among commercials in this approach. All beekeepers dont operate in this manner as many have other goals that require a lot of manipulations through the course of a season. Losses? Sure we have a few, this year its looking like about 10% attrition from check backs through the end of the year which is a pretty typical number, some probably poor matings while others might be good smaller hives that were casualties of the disruption caused by bee moving. Perhaps a caveman could do it, perhaps not but the point being that through most of a season we inspect only if we feel its truly worth our time to seek out a problem.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Grand Rapids, Ohio
    Posts
    858

    Cool Re: How often do you check production hives?

    Well Said Jim.
    If things looks, smells, and sounds good when lid is open, really no need to dig deeper. Its the hives that don't that you spend 80% of your time on. Some problems are easier to fix then others. I only worry about the hive I'm working on. It is a job, but Keep it Fun

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Maricopa, Ariz, USA
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    Quote Originally Posted by HarryVanderpool View Post
    Again I have to state that being commercial does not mean running a half ass operation.
    LOL......Well, ouch.....that left a mark, but no doubt we are certainly a 'half ass' operation.

    To the OP.....Jim couldn't have stated my philosophy more clearly. I would add that, as is true in many things, all beekeeping is local. Just as an example......an extended, frame by frame inspection in our 118 degree heat to locate a tiara would eliminate the need for subsequent inspections....or the need of a solar melter to render your wax. I am friends with several very large commercials that NEVER inspect for queens after they "caught".......if it has bees, give it a super.....if it doesn't have bees, it becomes a super. As you can see, there is quite a dichotomy in management styles....determine your goals and do what works for you.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Wilmington, NC, 28403
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    This post is for J. Atkins - they guy with five hives who started the thread.

    Never go in a hive without a reason. "Seeing how they are doing" or "plain old curiousity" is not a reason. All beekeeping tasks can be divided into five areas:

    1. Staying queenright
    2. Making sure your bees have enough of the right feed (liquid carbohyrdates, protein supp, amino acids) and enough water
    3. Protecting your bees from disease, pests, and predators
    4. Controlling the internal and external hive environment (amount of internal space, full sun vs. shade, etc.)
    5. Objective oriented actions


    If you will start categorizing your activities into these categories it will help develop your decision making process over time. Bees have a natural annual cycle with nature. You job is to try to accomplish your objectives in harmony with that natural cycle by making it easier for the bees to do what they want to do anyway. At the same time you should be disrupting the natural cycle of the diseases, pests, and predators without interfering with the bees natural cycle or the accomplishment of your objectives any more than is absolutely necessary. All easier said than done.

    Never do anything for your five hives that you couldn't or wouldn't do if you had 2,000 colonies. Efficiency is efficiency. You may only have five hives but you likely have a family, PTA, a job, etc. I have seen hobby beekeepers make things so complicated they end up neglecting their bees because it seems so overwhelming to work them. I have a guy that works for me part time and also has a full time job. He has 16 colonies of his own he runs like he had 2,000 to work. He nets about $8,000.00 a year off of that handful of hives and doesn't spend a lot of time doing it. He has the mind set and skill set to be a commercial beekeeper with a relatively short learning curve if he ever wanted to.

    Make all of your hives the same so that you can treat them the same. Equalization of colonies preempts a multitude of problems and allows you to feed, medicate, etc. rapidly since there is little hive by hive subjective decision making.

    If you really want to learn to work bees, burn all your bee books, stay off of the internet, do not go to hobby beekeeping meetings. Instead, if you can, find a commercial beekeeper that will let you work for him for free. Keep in mind I wrote work not agri-tourism. When he needs you to work plan to leave when its dark and get back when its dark. Speak when spoken to. Don't try to prove how much you know. Get there five minutes before he does and be the last one other than him to leave. Get out and unlock/lock the gates so he doesn't have to. Take the jobs no one else wants. In short. make it worthwhile to put up with the inconvenience of having you ride along. If you do that most guys will take you under their wing and give you as much help as they can. If you have a wife and she can't live with that and you really want to learn how to keep bees get a different wife.

    I'm sure I managed to piss somebody off with something I said herein but its the best advice I have for you J. Atkins.
    Last edited by 2dumb; 12-01-2012 at 06:39 PM.
    "Too dumb to run too proud to quit."

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    26,200

    Default Re: How often do you check production hives?

    Some of the best advice I have heard 2dumb. A very good reply to the OP.
    Mark Berninghausen "That which works, persists."

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