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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Northfield, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Smoke or No smoke

    They are saying 50 degrees today. I was thinking about putting a sugar board on. One of my hives that did not get one this fall. Still so new to this, it's my first winter with 4 hives. So do I smoke a little when going in quick or not? Anything I should be looking for on this quick look? I will try too answer this, live bees in a cluster ok that part is over what else should I looking for?

    Thanks in advance

    Deans Bees

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,866

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    You won't be disturbing the cluster or pulling frames. A few guards may fly out to investigate when you pop the top but nothing too serious. Does the hive need a sugar board? If you are convinced that they will starve without it go ahead and put it on. Otherwise I'd leave the hive shut.

    It is in the upper 30s here right now. I intend to walk the bee yards today and look for signs that the bees are doing their thing. I may heft some hives if I suspect they are light on stores, but most of my looking will be for dead bees that have been removed from the hive (a good thing as that means there are live bees to do the removing)

    To answer your question on smoke, it should not be necessary.
    Master Beekeeper (EAS) and Master Gardener (U Maine CE) www.beeberrywoods.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    Always smoke as calm bees are happy bees. At 50F I would:
    1) Check the entrance to make sure your reducer is not plugged with dead bees ( expect to find dead bees from the winter cluster)
    2) Puff a bit of smoke in the entrance and listen for a buzz.
    3) Are their a few dead bees, a pile of dead bees fresh bees on the ground, A pile may mean starvation.
    4) is there defecation on the front of the hive/bottom board - could mean dysentary - if so research and address
    5) Give a little heft at the rear - still should have most of it's season weight as brood rearing will start in about 2 weeks in your area nomrally and still months of brood rearing before coltsfoot in March.
    6) Pop the lid - puff of smoke, if your are running doubles are the bees in the top or the bottom. If they are in the top might be getting low on stores. Can you see capped honey?? Expect a few guard bees to do a frontal assault.
    7) How many frames does the cluster cover. 4 frames is good - 3 frames is a maybe and less is a future dead out
    8) Is their moisture on the lid, if so, ventilate by raising the lid by proping the cover
    9) Is your bear fence working????

    Make a list of issues, feed ASAP if needed with warm 2:1 syrup on top and plan your next visit.

    You are smart to check early, you can break a cluster at 50F if you find an emergency and This list is what I'd do. A little sugar on the inner cover even for a stocked hive never hurts.

    Go home , make a good cup of brew and revel in the knowlege your girls are alright and you've done all you can until the next warm spell!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Palermo, Maine, USA
    Posts
    731

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    Quote Originally Posted by Joel View Post

    feed ASAP if needed with warm 2:1 syrup on top and plan your next visit.
    The OP is in Massachusetts, so he may want to consider using a candy board or dry sugar instead of syrup.
    Like us on facebook This is the place to bee!
    Ralph

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Rowley, MA
    Posts
    251

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    Other than lifting to check weight I would not do anything unless that indicated an issue. It is going to be cold this week so the less disturbance the better. I have never used smoke in the winter.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,406

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    If you are going to add a candy board or sugar I would have the smoker lit and ready to go before popping the top. If they are down below you won't need it. Sometimes you'll open one up and find the cluster at the top. A quick puff of smoke will keep them calmer and encourage them to move down off the top bars, making it easier for you to add your sugar.

    I also agree that is the hive feels heavy when lifting, just leave them alone. But if you do need to add sugar just make it quick.
    To everything there is a season....

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Wisconsin rapids Wi USA
    Posts
    43

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    I made a mt camp to feed sugar later when it got warmer. but, my bees have been up by the top enterance for some time so I thought i should do it sooner. so last wk it got up to 36 degrees I didnt want to open up, so I cut a 1/8 in panel the size of the hive. lifted the top (quilt) a 1/8 inch slid the panel in very slowly, took quilt off ,placed mt camp on, then the quilt on it and pulled the panel out, never exposing the bees ( I wet the sugar when I filled it, so it had set and was hard on the outside so it did not fall down on the bees)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Granby, CT
    Posts
    547

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    Tip the hive and learn to asses its wight. You will get better with practice.
    No need to smoke for quick interventions.
    The advice for South Carolina is very good for SC but not for MA. No smoking in the winter. put the veil. Open the top and if you see the bees in the inner cover or close you may need feeding dry, not liquid. It is mid January. You can feed only fondant, candy or dry sugar.

    Gilman

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,113

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    I would probably light the smoker and probably not use it... a little smoke in the air can make a big difference and if there is a response, a puff across the top will quickly quell it.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Santa Fe, NM
    Posts
    664

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    Joel your recommendations are not acceptable for all locations. You can't feed sugar syrup in Me. or Mass. this time of year. And like Mike B. indicated you should always have your smoker lit. I've got the hell stung out of me before doing winter inspections. I don't suit up like a spaceman but still.
    "Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay".....Krishnamurti

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    computer issue
    Last edited by Joel; 01-15-2013 at 03:27 AM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    again - one more try
    Last edited by Joel; 01-15-2013 at 03:27 AM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Erin, NY /Florence SC
    Posts
    3,361

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    Quote Originally Posted by Riskybizz View Post
    Joel your recommendations are not acceptable for all locations. You can't feed sugar syrup in Me. or Mass. this time of year. And like Mike B. indicated you should always have your smoker lit. I've got the hell stung out of me before doing winter inspections. I don't suit up like a spaceman but still.
    Risky - Your response is not acceptable in all locations. :-)

    I was addressing a new beek in mass. facing a 50F day and several warm days to come. I should have addressed the methodoly we use for emergency winter feeding and by the way - since we've used it for 20 years in one of the coldest micro-climates in the north east I would suggest it is very acceptable. Nothing against sugar boards as supplmental feeding, I was addressing emergency feeding should he find starvation. We cover the rest of the list in the same region. Not sure about the smoke aspect of your post but I puff a little at the entrance, a little under the top cover and on any warm winter day I may open 30-40 hives and in ALL locations I never get the **** stung out of me.

    Here in the Finger Lakes we winter 175 singles (1/2 our total hives) in one of the coldest micro climates in the region. We frequently have a few hives which due to mid season queenlessness or a dearth area might be starving in January. Our goal is to get quantity feed into the cluster as when the temps fall into the teens the cluster will reduce and a hive will starve with honey, feed jars, or a sugar board, two inches away. We place 4 quart jars of warm feed directly over the cluster on the top bars on 1/8 inch sticks. At 25 - 30F the cluster will still be glued to the jars feeding and will take as much as a 1/2 quart of warm feed a day and 1/4 quart when it turns cold. I would guess at his temps he could top feed as much as a gallon into the cluster, then throw on his sugar board for good measure.

    That's just how we do it - not meant to work in all locations - but in Mass, at 50F ........

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Old Town, Maine, USA
    Posts
    99

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    I put some dry sugar on two hives yesterday when the temp was well in to the 50's, and was very glad to have had my smoker and veil. One hive didn't care that I was there. The other...yow! Lit me up in good shape.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Park City Ky
    Posts
    1,837

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    I'm with Michael on this one. Lite it and have it ready, likely not use.

    As a good illustration, Saturday, Kentucky Temp 71 degrees, I drove past my Stovall Brood Stands just looking to see that the landing boards were clean, and to see an occasional dead bee at the entrance. As I stopped in front of hive number 11, the bees boiled out of the hive and attacked my White Tahoe, (ever notice how slowly electric windows work), In line with this thread, I thought man, if I had been on the ground, rather than in a vehicle, I would have been in trouble.

    Better to be prepared, and not need the smoke, than to need the smoke, and not have it available. Winter bees can become angry bees quickly.

    cchoganjr

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Granby, CT
    Posts
    547

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    I get a bit old fashion about smoking this time of the year.
    In CT the average highest temps are in mid 30 F in mid January. The Cluster is tight and with some lack the queen has started laying or will start soon.
    If we open the hive this time of the year there are bee that are going to fly for a short time and able to sting us. We can avoid getting stung by dressing properly and limiting the time the hive is open.
    We can lit the smoker in case things go really wrong but using it this time of the year will disrupt the cluster will make them consume more and we will be on the mercy of the weather for the cleansing flights.


    Gilman

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    IG, Slovenia
    Posts
    21

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    Quote Originally Posted by bleta12 View Post
    Tip the hive and learn to asses its wight. You will get better with practice.
    No need to smoke for quick interventions.
    The advice for South Carolina is very good for SC but not for MA. No smoking in the winter. put the veil. Open the top and if you see the bees in the inner cover or close you may need feeding dry, not liquid. It is mid January. You can feed only fondant, candy or dry sugar.

    Gilman
    Yeah i agree, no smoke. They are calm as it is.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,113

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    > using it this time of the year will disrupt the cluster will make them consume more

    I don't believe they will. I open a lot of hives with and without smoke all the time and see no difference in the number of bees with their heads in the cells. I think the idea that smoke makes them consume honey is a theory that Langstroth came up with to explain why they didn't sting when smoked. I see no evidence that it is true.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,406

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    Dean's Bees,
    Well, how did it go? Just curious if you decided to use the smoker and how things went for you.
    To everything there is a season....

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Northfield, Massachusetts, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default Re: Smoke or No smoke

    Thanks for everyone response... Did not go in because it was cloudy and only hit 41. So I lift the back to get an idea on weight. They should be ok.. Monday temp. went to 50 and all hives were out enjoying the day..so as I...Put the electric fence on just in case the skunks were out wondering around that night looking for a quick meal. But in the future I will alway light just in case.

    Thanks again

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