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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
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    Larimer County, CO
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    448

    Default Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    Hi all.

    This may seem like a lame question to ask, but I have to ask it. Can any of you offer any suggestions for how to not kill a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together after a thorough inspection? Seems like the rims of most of my boxes are lined with smashed bees. Is there any way to prevent this, or is it just gonna happen when a hive gets to a certain population? I've tried smoking them back, brushing them off, etc., but it seems like there are 2 or 3 add'l bees to take the place of each one that I brush/smoke off.

    If it's gonna happen, I'm fine with it I suppose, but if I can avoid killing a bunch after every inspection I'd like to do that. Tips/suggestions appreciated.

    TIA
    I'm the dude, so that's what you call me.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    712

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    There incredibly few things about beekeeping that I hate...one of those things is the sickening CRUNCH of bees sammiched between mating surfaces. One or two isn't too bad, but 10 or 20 of them is a heartbreaker.

    Langstroth suggests to replace components so slowly that the bees have time to move after some pressure sets on them. That can be time consuming and painful with a 60lb super. The fatbeeman replaces his boxes by swiveling (shimmying, rotating, you get it) the box around such that any bees between the mating surfaces would be gently rolled and then run off. This seems to work pretty well. Combine that with some smoke and you'll kill way fewer bees.
    Try it. What could happen?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Bolton, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    268

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    In England Some bee keepers place a cloth over the hive boxes that are open while they are working the bees the keep them down in the box. For the box that is exposed and they are working on, they will place a cloth on it for a minute or so to help clear the bees down. They then pull off the cloth just before placing the box on top. I was taught that by an English bee keeper here.
    The cloth is just bigger then a box and it has a rod in two opposite ended to add some weight.
    Glen
    You Tube bee Channel Zone 5A
    http://www.youtube.com/user/GlenGH

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    2,676

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    Some beekeepers smoke the underside of boxes before putting them back on the stack.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Flora,IL
    Posts
    2,646

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    Quick puff of smoke puts them back on the frames... correct beespace and a smoker should be trouble free.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,250

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    I use cloths to cover my hives, it is especially helpful when I have several hives opened at the same time, the bees stay calm under the cloths which are actually small bath towels. When I go to set a box or cover back on the towel is removed and there are far fewer bees to contend with.
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Larimer County, CO
    Posts
    448

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Dewey View Post
    Some beekeepers smoke the underside of boxes before putting them back on the stack.
    i've started smoking both the underside of the box i'm about to put back on and the top of the box that is already in place but still manage to smash a few, or a lot, every time.
    I'm the dude, so that's what you call me.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Larimer County, CO
    Posts
    448

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    Quote Originally Posted by WWW View Post
    I use cloths to cover my hives, it is especially helpful when I have several hives opened at the same time, the bees stay calm under the cloths which are actually small bath towels. When I go to set a box or cover back on the towel is removed and there are far fewer bees to contend with.
    i will try this next time. thank you.
    I'm the dude, so that's what you call me.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Eatonville WA USA
    Posts
    166

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    I like to slide my supers slowly back in to place. As for the top covers (this will not work with a migratory cover ) I like to put four screws one in each corner. I screw them down to bee space about 3/8 inch then the lid sits on the screws and does not crush the bees.


    Johns Bees

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    North Liberty, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    114

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    I do the twist method after smoking. In also cover open boxes with squares of the firm, dense styrofoam insulation. Bees don't tend to cling to that when I remove it like they can with cloth and it does't sag on top of the frames, is lightweight and cheap.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Oakville, CT
    Posts
    35

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    Quote Originally Posted by johns bees View Post
    I like to slide my supers slowly back in to place. As for the top covers (this will not work with a migratory cover ) I like to put four screws one in each corner. I screw them down to bee space about 3/8 inch then the lid sits on the screws and does not crush the bees.


    Johns Bees
    You do this on the telescoping lid? do you use an inner cover? I see many don't use an inner cover, but then wont you lift the frames with the lid?

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Oshawa, Ontario
    Posts
    200

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    Smoke and twist...

    or twist and smoke...
    it's all good.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    mineral county,Montana USA
    Posts
    796

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    accept that there will be a few deaths, and move decisively. thats what works for me. as i've gotten more comfortable working bees i kill fewer. practice working bees.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    1,347

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    Sounds like a good strong healthy hive if they are bearding over. I put the inner cover on and place box ontop of outer cover. Covering the frames will also help prevent putting the other hives into a robbing mode if things are real dry. Sometimes I smoke em down or brush them off the ledges with hand. Slide boxes into place. Killing a few is inevtiable.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Utica, NY
    Posts
    9,018

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    I try to hover a little and then drop the front corners down first about an inch short of the front wall. That takes half the weight off the box so it is easier to shimmy it into place. Smoking does clear the top of the frames of bees most of the time but I think some bees have a death wish that insist on staying on the top ledge.

    I guess I don't pay attention on the few that get in the way anymore.
    Brian Cardinal
    Zone 5a, Practicing non-intervention beekeeping

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Haymarket, Virginia
    Posts
    196

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    I may try the cloth thing. There are regular massacres on one of my hives (100+ squished) if I do a full inspection. We always smoke and slowly slide/rotate the boxes into place, but the colony doesn't care. It's not AHB bad, but they have an attitude, boil out of the box, etc. You can count on getting popped if you inspect brood chambers. I'd requeen, but naturally it's our best hive....

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,379

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    If you set it down gently at an angle you have only four points that contact. Then you can slowly slide it into place. Also, of course, you can brush clumps of bees out of the way with a bee brush.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Eldersburg, MD, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    I use pillow cases as hive drapes, I bought sizes larger than the standard pillow case size and I cover all boxes that are open. This helps keep the number of the bees in the air significantly down, they stay much calmer and there are few to no bees along the edges when I whip off the cover to replace a box.

    I wash them between inspections because inevitably a few bees will sting the pillow case and I don't want the alarm pheromone on there.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Haymarket, Virginia
    Posts
    196

    Default Re: Tips for not killing a bunch of bees when putting a hive back together anyone?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    If you set it down gently at an angle you have only four points that contact. Then you can slowly slide it into place. Also, of course, you can brush clumps of bees out of the way with a bee brush.
    You're right. It's actually what we're doing, but the one hive is simply crazy at times. They even stung our mentor. (One would think they'd be mite free with such a bad attitude.)

    I will try the pillow case thing...reminds me of throwing a shirt over a horse's head!

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