Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees
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  1. #1
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    Apr 2016
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    Seattle
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    Default Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    Newbee question number 737...

    This bugs me every time and I've been meaning to ask here. Every time I take off the upper boxes from my Langstroth, by the time I put them back on there are bees all around the edge. I shoo them away with my hand but I still find it pretty difficult to put the box back on without squishing bees.

    Is there a trick of the trade?

    Clive

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    St Petersburg, FL, USA
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    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    I'm new too and haven't 100% found a solution, but what I've been doing is sliding it on rather than setting it down. So I set it on its edge and then just push it forward. Any bees in the way get pushed off which is a bit rude, but better that than squished!

    I've also just been working on moving slow when I put down frames and stuff to give the bees a chance to realize they're about to be squished. When they feel very light pressure on them, they'll wriggle away. So it's been sort of a matter of set it *almost* all the way down, wait a few seconds for the bees to move, inch it down a bit more, etc.

    I think a few bee casualties are inevitable during inspections, so don't feel too guilty!!

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Southeast Texas
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    1,791

    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    run your smoker around the edge - this will herd them back in

  5. #4
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    Jun 2015
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    Oslo Norway
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    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    When I put boxes back on i use alot of smoke and when all the bees are inside the box I work quickly and place the back on, in a 45 degree angle compared to the bottom box, and slide it in place. My hives has beespace over the frames though - the top of the frames are a centimeter or so beneath the edge of the box so the sliding wont squish the bees on top of the frames. I imagine this wont work with beespace beneath the frames. Also, if there are bees inside the upper box i always put it down on a lid or something flat so that the bees wont cluster on the edges underneath.

    Someone in here shared a neat trick that I want to try. They used two paintstirrers as shims when putting down the box and let it lie on those for a few minutes. The thickness of the shims were such that the bees wold not go in between the boxes but they could get out. When all the bees has moved out of the way the removed the shims one at a time and lowered the upper box. As far as i remember they claimed that they did not squish any bees when doing this.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Bedford County, PA USA
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    232

    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    I do something similar to Pondulinus. The smoke gets most of them off the edge and slide motion reduces squashes.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    5,514

    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    Sliding your boxes results in decapitations. It's really awful to watch from the inside, as I have.

    The paint stirrer thing is something I devised, and I teach all my students how to do it. Boxes with squashed bees between them are not inevitable.

    Enj.

  8. #7
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    Jun 2015
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    Oslo Norway
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    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    Enjambres: Do you remember the thickness of the paint stirrer?

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Jackson, MO
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    721

    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    I really hate the crunching noise when they fail to get out of the way. But, if you let it down gently, most get the hint and move. The ones that don't get what happens in life.

    Has anyone ever stopped to count the bees in a hive?

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Rosebud Missouri
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    3,931

    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    I kill lots of bees. I scrape them off with the putty knife everytime I open the hive. I keep trying to get better but keep hearing the crunch every time I inspect. A bunch of the times I was about to pass out from heat stroke but even when I slow down I always get some. I have tried to smoke them out of the way and don't know if I am not using enough smoke or what. Even if they move they move right back before I have the box or top back on. They seem to have favorite spots that you can hardly get them to move from. I am wondering if my wood has sweet spots. I notice also that when I feed that I can make alot of bees move off the baggies with smoke but never all of them. My inner covers might have a small amount of warp screwing up bee space cause I get some smashed bees at the hole area on it sometimes also.
    I expect to get better but so far so bad.


    I did read the test where randy oliver purposely smashed 30 or so at every inspection and his observation was it did affect hive production.
    Cheers
    gww

  11. #10
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    Apr 2016
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    St Petersburg, FL, USA
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    156

    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    Sliding your boxes results in decapitations. It's really awful to watch from the inside, as I have.

    The paint stirrer thing is something I devised, and I teach all my students how to do it. Boxes with squashed bees between them are not inevitable.

    Enj.
    Noted, thanks for the tip!

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Location
    Pendleton County, Kentucky, USA
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    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    Working slowly is the key. I sit the front of the top box along the back edge of the bottom box and slide, SLOWLY forward. Bees aren't stupid. They will get out of the way. Slow and steady works for me.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Deisem, ND,USA
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    30

    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    Side to side motion helps get the bees out of the way. Straight down motion, even if it is slow, doesn't work as well. I put down one corner of the box where I can see there are no bees. Then I move the box side to side slightly while lowering the rest of the box. It works pretty well most of the time. But I like the idea of the paint sticks. I will for sure be trying that.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
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    Santa barbara, CA
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    779

    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    enjambres "paint stirrer thing" for those that missed it like myself.
    "You can move on to crushing virtually no bees if you use paint stirrer sticks set diagonally across each corner of the box being lowered on to. You need the thicker variety of paint stirrer (or two thin ones glued together?) so that there is just barely not enough room for the bees to get through the gap, but just enough for them to feel slightly pinched and wiggle safely back into the hive.

    Once the upper box is down, you can then remove the paint stirrer sticks, one by one, letting each corner down gently. There are some tricks to doing this, but I use it for every box I set down, every time and only rarely do I squish a bee. I can work my whole yard of 10-frame deeps stacked five boxes high per colony and only discover one or two previously squished bees as I go through the boxes. And I re-stack every box as it comes off its stack as I go, so I have twice the chances of smushing them. I think squashing bees upsets the girls and it certainly increase the chances of disease transmission."
    If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail.
    Abraham Maslow

  15. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Hampstead, NC USA
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    1,208

    Default Re: Putting a box back on a Langstroth without killing bees

    Smoke em and slide the box or just plop it on after the majority of the smoked bees shoo off the top. I appreciate all the folks that have the patience to work slowly enough to prevent killing bees but I've found it isn't practical. There is a point of diminishing returns when trying to not kill any bees. The big problem I have with the slowness is the back. Worrying about some stupid bug while trying to hold an 80 pound box in an awkward position is a recipe for a permanent back problem. It happens quickly and is not easily done when lifting while in a bad position. Get a single back injury and you will likely never give a few crushed bees another thought.
    "Challenger" as in the Mopar muscle car. Not a personality description .
    Keeping bees to raise money for chordoma.

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