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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Hopkins, MI USA
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    Default Is all of this management necessary?

    Just curious as I'm very new to bee keeping. Won't the bees pretty much take care of them self's if you give them the room they need? I know various state laws require someone to inspect hives and such but my state does not so I don't see the benefit in bothering them to much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
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    Morrison, Colorado, USA
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    53

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    I think that kind of depends on what you want out of beekeeping. If you want to have a colony of bees, that maybe survives the winter, maybe survives varroa mites, or whatever other pests you may have in your area, and maybe give you some honey to harvest, and you don't mind replacing your bees if something happens, then no, management isn't necessary.

    There's nothing necessarily wrong with that either.

    If you want to try to help ensure winter survival, disease free bees, maximize honey harvest, or have a sustainable apiary, more management becomes necessary. At least that's my experience so far.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
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    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    46,138

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    >Just curious as I'm very new to bee keeping. Won't the bees pretty much take care of them self's if you give them the room they need? I know various state laws require someone to inspect hives and such but my state does not so I don't see the benefit in bothering them to much.

    If you put bees in a box and ignore them they will swarm. When they swarm, there is a certain percent chance the new queen won't make it back from mating. How high that percent is, varies by climate, time of year, birds, dragon flies etc. But if she doesn't make it back they will die out. There is a certain percent chance every winter that they will die and that goes up if they are not being cared for because some years there isn't enough food. Basically if you started with 100 hives and ignored them, you'd probably always have some bees in the hives, partly because swarms will move in from time to time, but the number will dwindle over time from queenlessness, winter, robbing etc. These are all things that beekeepers can intervene on to improve those odds. You can give them a queen, or some brood when you suspect they are queenless. You can make sure they have enough stores in the winter. You can help them manage space (less when there are less bees to guard it and more when they would have otherwise swarmed) and the entrance (less when there is a dearth so they don't get robbed and more when there are traffic jams in the flow) and you can do splits when they would have swarmed to the trees to keep the bees in your hives instead of the trees...

    All in all, from the bees point of view, bees might do almost as well without your help, but a lot of them will end up in the trees...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Location
    richland center, wisconsin USA
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    294

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    AMEN.... a great manager has vision and finds a team to move in that direction.. So educating yourself in how the bee works, inside its body, within its hive and the surrounding world. You will can then decide how you want to help this bee, assist you in what you desire,( money, nutrition, entertainment, education). Mr.Bushes writings are a great start, others might not agree with all practices, but they are his. Just as how you decide to manage your bees or not manage will be your decision.

    Good luck let us know of your success
    "Anytime you see someone more successful than you are, they are doing something you aren't."

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Mt holly, NC, USA
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    52

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    Minimal intervention beekeeping was much more of a possibility 30 years ago.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Hopkins, MI USA
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    74

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    Thanks for the replies! I was planning on just giving them habitat to live in to help with declining numbers. With the new bees I have now I'm feeding them to help them get ready for winter and I was planning on trying to keep track of mites and pest.

    I had heard that it can set a colony back up to 2 weeks worth of work by opening the hive....I didn't want to set mine back since they are already behind. Is that not true? From reading here it seems like everyone is in the hives every two weeks or so.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
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    20

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    Well, your're trying to get a conversation started that examines the distinct differences between heavily managed bee keeping/honey production as opposed to "newer" hobby bee keeping. The newer hobby bee keeping came about as a result of the awareness of C.C.D and perceived ill effects caused by the over use of pesticides (i.e. recent introduction of "neonictinoids", etc.). You really need to do a lot of research on the net to compare and contrast the differences between heavily managed hive keeping(every other week inspection/interuption as opposed to the more leave alone method). Reading the information on this website and the website Biobees.com(advocates a more natural approach) will make your head spin. Ultimately you've got to choose your own way when armed with all of the available information concerning heavily managed (i.e. Langstroth type hive) and a more natural/minimalist approach(i.e. Warre, top-bar hives).

  8. #8
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    Jan 2009
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    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
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    2,864

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by thehackleguy View Post
    I had heard that it can set a colony back up to 2 weeks worth of work by opening the hive....I didn't want to set mine back since they are already behind. Is that not true? From reading here it seems like everyone is in the hives every two weeks or so.
    Just opening up the hive for a few minutes is not going to set them back. I don't know where statements like that come from, but its not the first time I have heard someone say it. How does it set them back? At worse, it may cause a little confusion while you are in the hive and a few minutes afterwards, but things get back to normal much quicker than you realize, certainly nowhere near one or two weeks.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
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    20

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    Go here--http://www.bee-friendly.co.uk/ investigate the thoughts and theories of "nestdurftwarmebindung"(about 2/3 of the way down on the website). In a nutshell---bees communicate in the hive via scents, pheronomes, vibration. Every time you rip the roof to see how your girls are doing, you upset that balance greatly.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Location
    Cordova, TN, USA
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    152

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    Quote Originally Posted by thehackleguy View Post
    I had heard that it can set a colony back up to 2 weeks worth of work by opening the hive....I didn't want to set mine back since they are already behind. Is that not true? From reading here it seems like everyone is in the hives every two weeks or so.
    Even if you pull every frame out and look at it, put it back in the same place, and close the hive back up, I can't see where it would "set them back". Now if you made any modifications - moved frames around, switched hive boxes, etc., I can see where they might need some time to adjust.

    I've not seen any studies on this or facts. Anyone else?

    Rick

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Morrison, Colorado, USA
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    53

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    No studies. The more you do, the more they have to redo. Re-propolizing everything, re-building bridge comb etc. Not too sure this qualifies as setting them back, or that you could ascribe a time frame to these disturbances. If you use smoke, do they not eat stores/nectar that they otherwise would not have? Does this matter? If you had 100 hives, and you inspected 50 of them every 2 weeks how far different would they be at the end of the season. Not a whole lot I'd bet.

    Additionally, if you inspected every 2 weeks and it set the hive back by two weeks, you would never get anywhere right?


  12. #12
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    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    543

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    Not A Warre hive owner, however I have to comment on this:

    I was planning on just giving them habitat to live in to help with declining numbers.
    I started last year with swarms and sort of had this idea, too. But experience has taught me it is mostly wishful thinking. I had had two decades of unmanaged honey bees living in my barns' walls, before they suddenly and inexplicably disappeared some time between Dec. 2012 and May 2013. Luckily for me three new swarms re-inhabited this area, which when cut-out and hived (in Langs because I wanted to keep things simple) became my now-managed bees.

    I had a vague feeling that if I helped the bees by providing them with "better" living condtions than they might have had in the walls they would be fine. This idea arose from reading and being drawn to the idea of a more natural, less interventionist, approach to bees.

    A year's experience has taught me differently. My three colonies have established themselves, survived last winter, grown into large, healthy colonies that are socking away major amounts of honey and pollen. One grew large enough to makea split into two. But that didn't happen because I just hived them and left them to their devices.

    While the bees are astoundingly hardy and rescourceful creatures, their odds of success have been enormously increased because I learned to feed them (when necessary, at various times and in various ways depending on the season), treat them for mites (when necessary), protected them from the winter's vicissitudes (very necessary during last year's unusually fierce Polar Vortex), manipulate their brood expansion (during the Spring to moderate their urge to swarm away) and in many other ways protect them from natural stressors: easy access to water on hot days; positioning of their hive to discourage predation from rodents and skunks; ground cover designed reduce SHB pupation near the hives; windbreaks and tie-downs during wind-emergencies, etc.

    Man-made nest cavities (whether TBH, Warre or plain Jane Langs) are not "ideal" habitats, they may or may not be an improvement for honey bees on the natural cavities they might find. But keep this in mind: the majority of swarmed colonies perish every year, so the odds are against them anyway.

    If you want to "help" your bees, you need to provide more than just a cavity. You need to learn about what it takes to "keep" bees. There a wide variety of management approaches to keeping bees. Many of the older approaches may NOT work today given the stressors that exist now: parasites and environmental challenges, being the biggest issues.

    It doesn't harm your colonies to work with them. At least in the long run; in the short run your new beekeeper's lack of skill will be hard on them, but you will learn and they will survive. I took the attitude that in return for the costs (to the bees) of my skill-development, I owed them any additional boost I could offer.

    And I note you are in Michigan. I am in upstate NY so we have similar winter challenges. Your bees are newly hived and they have a huge job ahead of them to drawn enough comb to store enough honey to just to survive until next Spring. They are a very late swarm for our climate's rigors. If you really want to help them get through the next nine months, you're going to have to step UP your management efforts, at least for the year. If you get them through, then next year - once you have some more experience under your belt - you can choose to dial back your interventions.

    My advice isn't coming from years of beekeeping experience. It's coming from having started at a similar point that you are now and grappling with the reality of what it takes to successfully bring my bees through their first year under my care. Had I just "provided a habitat for them", I doubt I would be still be reading Beesource as they would have long ago perished and I would have given up on beekeeping.

    enjambres

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    To be sure, I was not advocating NOT doing any of the following if needed:
    ""While the bees are astoundingly hardy and rescourceful creatures, their odds of success have been enormously increased because I learned to feed them (when necessary, at various times and in various ways depending on the season), treat them for mites (when necessary), protected them from the winter's vicissitudes (very necessary during last year's unusually fierce Polar Vortex), manipulate their brood expansion (during the Spring to moderate their urge to swarm away) and in many other ways protect them from natural stressors: easy access to water on hot days; positioning of their hive to discourage predation from rodents and skunks; ground cover designed reduce SHB pupation near the hives; windbreaks and tie-downs during wind-emergencies, etc." quote from enjambres
    What I will say is that you have to ask yourself, "Do I REALLY, REALLY need to do an inspection, or am I satisfying a curiosity?" Consider how much your actions will unbalance the inner workings of the hive before yanking off the roof just to have a "look".

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Mt holly, NC, USA
    Posts
    52

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    Houston, I do respect your point of view even though I see no support structure under it. No one asigned me to keeper of all knowledge, so I may be well off base and in error, however I am very interentionist in my approch to these creatures.

    I started keeping bees 40 years ago and at that time was very non-interentionist, opening the hive 2 to 3 times a year to rob some honey or to try to impress one of my friends. Secondary to pest and diseast issues I fear those days are gone.

    My approach today is to try to maximise the productivity of the hives, with the thought that the bees are really livestock, much like little chickens or cows. There is a component of afection involved and as such I have bee accused of treating them as pets.

    I am in each hive on an almost weekly basis. Several times of the year I am away for 2 or so weeks, and I find that these "extended" periods of inatention are the most trouble prone for the bees. I firmly feal that they do better with frame by frame manipulation on a weekly basis.

    Additionally, almost daily I just pull the cover off a hive or two, just for the joy of it. I'm not pulling your leg, I enjoy the hobby.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Houston, Texas, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Is all of this management necessary?

    I shall leave the dog sleeping on the porch.

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