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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Lilburn, GA, USA
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    159

    Default How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    Can you tell by eyeballing them as they return? Pollen is obvious to me but nectar is not.

    Maybe the question should be how can you tell how much nectar bees are bringing in?

    I have some indirect ideas, if they are building new comb, then yes.

    Or what are some others ways to figure this out?
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Warren County, NJ, USA
    Posts
    287

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    if you look closely, bees are clumsy when landing. when they are loaded down with nectar they become extra clumsy. that is the only way i know of to tell without weighing or opening the hive.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Rib Lake WI
    Posts
    1,117

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    I have a lot of bees that land short in the grass in front of the hive you will also notice a hive odor when nectur is coming in.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
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    4,940

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    Look for the plop. Light bees land like a ballerina. Heavy bees land like a drunk missing the chair.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,710

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    This winter we had a very unusual late Feb. warm up that was warm enough and long enough that there was substantial nectar available. I noticed that my incoming foragers looked startlingly larger than they had the the day or two before. Turns out bees are longer-looking when carrying a large amount of nectar, because their honey stomach expands.

    I think when there is a more gradual increase in nectar your eye slowly gets used to the changing size of a "typical" bee. But when it's a sudden event and in the middle of the winter when there has been no foraging for awhile, you can easily see the difference.

    So, I thought the question a vain bee might ask her sisters: "Does this nectar make my butt look big?"

    I was thinking that it also might be a possible clue in sorting out departing robbers from departing foragers: Robbers would look big on the way out. That's on my list to watch for this summer.

    Enj.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2014
    Location
    Wheaton, IL
    Posts
    28

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    I know my bees are bringing in nectar when they stop (or drastically slow down) taking sugar syrup. They've got to be eating something, right?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Location
    Richmond Illinois USA
    Posts
    23

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    I was thinking that it also might be a possible clue in sorting out departing robbers from departing foragers: Robbers would look big on the way out. That's on my list to watch for this summer.

    Enj.
    In Beekeeping for Dummies, the author describes how robbers will crawl partway up the front of the hive, then depart with a significant dip in their flight path. Once I read this I was able to observe it - foragers zoom off like a jet, quite a contrast.

    Cheers,

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Champaign, Illinois
    Posts
    2,153

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    Shake a frame that appears shiny and wet. If drops fall out that's fresh nectar. Do it over the hive and the bees will mop up what you spill. Probably only have to do this once in your career because once you learned what fresh nectar looks like you can quit shaking frames.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Location
    Aroostook, ME, USA
    Posts
    48

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    I watch the bees leaving as opposed to arriving. They will be different sizes as others have noticed, longer and fatter but ignore the drones. But if you compare the two as you watch, that eliminates a gradual acceptance of difference in size. I agree about the clumsy landings, landing short of the bottom board, etc.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    WaKeeney, KS, USA
    Posts
    106

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    Quote Originally Posted by g2knee View Post
    I know my bees are bringing in nectar when they stop (or drastically slow down) taking sugar syrup. They've got to be eating something, right?
    This is what my operating base has been but the second year swarms have me shook up. With a new empty hive I doubt you could feed too much but I dont want my second year hives to swarm themselves to death. I fed last year early and late, and am feeding now. Started with 2 empty top bar hives, a year later I have 3 hives full of comb and they havent stopped taking syrup yet. I think my queens are just now getting settled down to start laying after their swarms but am afraid of feeding too much and binding up the brood nest.

    Where is the happy medium on feeding to replace what the swarm took, and not too much to insure the swarm impulse goes away?
    2nd year with bees. 3 Top Bar hives and a nuc in my back yard.
    Zone 5b/6a. 'Crackpipe' OAV.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    KC, MO, USA
    Posts
    3,884

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    Look for skinny bees leaving and plumb bees returning. When half or more of the returning bees are noticeably plumb there is a good flow going.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    462

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    Harley Craig had what I thought was a perfect description of a hive with a nectar flow referring to it looking like a "bee spitting machine". See here: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...92#post1265992
    Beekeeping 3 Years - 5 Italian Hives - 3 Carniolans - 10 Nucs - Treatment OAV Only

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Dutchtown,Louisiana,USA
    Posts
    348

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    Yep. When it's like a machine gun coming outta the hive theyre on something. The plop landings is a good description too

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    I think I know what you mean, and I've seen them shoot out. What exactly do you mean by "on something"??
    Quote Originally Posted by dtrooster View Post
    Yep. When it's like a machine gun coming outta the hive theyre on something. The plop landings is a good description too
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Dutchtown,Louisiana,USA
    Posts
    348

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    No brainer source of nectar. No messing around before leaving, get it while it's hot

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Lilburn, GA, USA
    Posts
    159

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    Ah, thanks, that makes sense.
    Quote Originally Posted by dtrooster View Post
    No brainer source of nectar. No messing around before leaving, get it while it's hot
    My grandfather and great-uncle kept bees and my fiancée's grandfather, too. I want to pass this tradition along.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Casey, Il, USA
    Posts
    4,131

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    Quote Originally Posted by e-spice View Post
    Harley Craig had what I thought was a perfect description of a hive with a nectar flow referring to it looking like a "bee spitting machine". See here: http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...92#post1265992
    ha ha thanks.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    462

    Default Re: How can you tell when bees are bringing in nectar?

    Quote Originally Posted by Harley Craig View Post
    ha ha thanks.
    When I see a hive with an active nectar flow I always think of that description.
    Beekeeping 3 Years - 5 Italian Hives - 3 Carniolans - 10 Nucs - Treatment OAV Only

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