Guidance Please: I'll be keeping a classroom OH
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Camas, Washington, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Guidance Please: I'll be keeping a classroom OH

    Good folks, I've been asked to be the mentor of an OH in a small school that got a "Bee Cause" grant to have a hive in their school. I haven't kept at observation hive before, and need some guidance. The hive holds 8 deep frames, in four pairs. It is installed and ready to go, with a feeder jar on top, ventilation ports, and a nice, short entrance/exit tube.

    My concern is not so much in getting it up and running but in KEEPING it up and running! Here in the Pacific Northwest, our bees go into winter torpor. Spring often comes a bit late. Summer--the busiest bee season--school is out. My initial thought is to remove the bees and put them back into their lang for the Summer, then reinstall them come autumn when school starts again. Is this a good idea??

    I am ashamed to say that while I am eager to learn, I don't even know what the right questions are that I should be asking here!

    Can you tell me, please, what I need to watch out for?

    In this size hive, should I have to be adding or swapping out frames fairly often, or can I just let the bees be, and build up as they like. If they get crammed, they will simply swarm, correct?

    Any guidance is much, much appreciated!

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    Byron, Il, USA
    Posts
    354

    Default Re: Guidance Please: I'll be keeping a classroom OH

    I have no help for you, but, since bees in swarm are basically harmless-don't sting-but really cool looking, I'd say let, even encourage them to swarm once so the kids can watch. Can do a whole 'life-cycle' lesson on that.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    5,400

    Default Re: Guidance Please: I'll be keeping a classroom OH

    You can empty the hive for the summer and place them in a lang when fall comes repopulate the hive, The biggest concern with a OB is managing swarms. An 8 frame side by side will fill to swarming twice a year, spring time and fall depending on when school lets out you may have to manage the hive to prevent spring swarming. If you plan on letting them swarm, then be sure to place a removable pole with branches near the entrance so capturing the swarm in easier should they choose to use your bait pole. I am not a big fan of allowing the bees to swarm willy nilly, because I don't believe beekeepers should make bees someone else's problem. But sometimes you have to do what is practice. Splitting the lang into the OB in august or early September will serve as your winter swarm split. e sure to supply the OB with ample store for the bees to overwinter.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Macon, GA USA
    Posts
    1,036

    Default Re: Guidance Please: I'll be keeping a classroom OH

    I asked the same question in a post this morning. Maybe a moderator can merge the threads? The resources page at beecause.org has a template for a beekeeper agreement. It just says the beekeeper will provide bees, maintain the hive, and provide emergency maintenance if necessary. I also think the large size of the OH is an advantage for maintenance and survivability although the queen will not always be visible. They recommend a 2nd floor installation to get the flight path overhead. The also stress (or overstress) having a south facing entrance.

    There is a separate part of the program that allows the school to put a top bar or langstroth hive on the school grounds. That introduces another set of potential issues, but a more involved learning experience.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Athens, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    279

    Default Re: Guidance Please: I'll be keeping a classroom OH

    Yeah, bigger is easier except it gets heavy. Second floor? If you have a balcony or patio or something. I wouldn't want to carry much distance. Stairs up and down?
    Yes, a suitable location is important for any public installation. I think a shrub or fence to get the girls up and away should be enough. Having a Lang on the property would be very helpful. Being able to quickly, easily boost or cut back the population in the OH is a good thing. I actually keep 2 support hives at a public OH.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Macon, GA USA
    Posts
    1,036

    Default Re: Guidance Please: I'll be keeping a classroom OH

    It definitely looks heavy. There is a handle on each side designed for a two man lift. I would probably wrap it to protect it from dings and put it on a cart or furniture dolly to move it in place. For mounting purposes, they said it should be strong enough to support 200 pounds at it's heaviest. Then there's the occasional kid who might want to climb on it.

    I do like the idea of on-site support hives.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    5,400

    Default Re: Guidance Please: I'll be keeping a classroom OH

    I have 5 OBs at different locations. Nursing home, a Dentist, My Studio ect. Three of the five are on the second floor. They are all Oak 8 frame with 3/16" glass.

    Observation Hive.jpg

    I am 74 and I carry them down the steps alone 90% of the time it needs being done. I am sure You guys can handle it. A helper is a real blessing at the end of the day. But I do what I have to do.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Camas, Washington, USA
    Posts
    20

    Default Re: Guidance Please: I'll be keeping a classroom OH

    Thanks for your comments!They are very helpful. I am currently looking for the donation of a Lang. My bees are in skeps and top bars. So, I'm wanting, as suggested, an onsite Lang and the small school is very open to it. I've read that it is hard to keep OH alive in the winter. Since that is the largest portion of the school year, what do you do with OH hives in winter? They will be in cluster and I don't imagine kids looking at them in winter is good for them (the light, the noise...) Any suggestions to guide me on what is best for the bees? I don't want to provide a good educational event at the bee's expense.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2014
    Location
    Clemson, South Carolina
    Posts
    92

    Default Re: Guidance Please: I'll be keeping a classroom OH

    Our beekeeper association here in SC put 8 of these into the schools in our country. As others have said, they've been hard to manage mainly from an overcrowding and swarming standpoint. Over winter here they just stayed in the observation hive and were fed sugar water. Of course this was SC and not Ohio. They seemed to overwinter fine, what we struggled with was treating for mites. For some hives we removed them to a deep and treated for mites, others we treated with formic acid during break.

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