Nightime hive work
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Caldwell TX USA
    Posts
    119

    Default Nightime hive work

    I’m trying to decide if this was a success or a failure.
    I have a fairly aggressive hive that I need to move, but right now it’s only about 100 ft from one of my chicken coops. So going into that hive until I move it (yes, that will be in the fairly near future) during daytime can lead to problems. I needed to get into the second box from the top (it currently has 4 or 5 boxes) to straighten some things out, bottom entrance only.
    So, last night well after dark I suited up (full vented suit), put a ‘red’ headlight on my head (and the key to my mistake) and went out there. Yup, they were angry as usual. Got the top box set aside, took off the second box and spent a couple of minutes cleaning things up. I basically had to replace the box, so moved all the frames from the old to the new. Restacked things and walked away.
    There was no light, the nearest street light is maybe ˝ mile away. It was pitch black. For anyone that says bees can’t see red, I can verify that they can see at least this LED red light. They weren’t flying in a mad cloud, but enough were flying around. I stayed outside several minutes. I didn’t have anything with me: bee brush, vacuum, etc (yes, another mistake). But it seemed there was minimal flying around me after 5-10 minutes, so I quickly went into the house and into the bathroom. Turned on the lights, and over the next several minutes caught about 50 bees that were hanging on my suit or flying around the bathroom. (BIG note: wife was out of town so I avoided the angry look!).
    So this is where I’m looking at this and debating if it was a ‘success’ or a ‘failure’. Had I done the exact same thing in the middle of the day, there would be at least 5000 bees in the air, the chickens would likely get attacked, and it’d be an issue. As it was, maybe 100 or200 bees were in the air. In the morning they already forgot about it. And had I thought to have a feather or brush with me, or a second person to help brush them off, even those 50 would have been left at or near the hive.
    So the more I think of it, I think it was predominately a success and would have been a complete success with just a couple of changes.
    Changes:
    • NO headlight. Put a couple of red lights on stands on either side shining on ‘white boards’, or something (to keep the bees off me). And maybe a remote-switched white light on the hive to help them find 'home' again?
    • Bee brush, feather, something to sweep off any hang-on bees. And either a mirror or camera or something to look at myself to see them to sweep them off (or bribe wife to suit up & brush me off).

    Note that it was quite cool yesterday when I did this. The high for day was only low 70’s, which normally is upper 80’s at this time of year. Cooler air might have ‘calmed’ them down as well, so maybe some dumb luck may have made it a better result. Also, the 50 bees on me didn't leave because it was dark and they were only willing to fly at me and not away from me. I did try turning on an outside light, but that only made the bees verify that they wanted to attack me (even walking away from the light didn't help).

    I know some will say "don't keep aggressive bees". Yup, I understand your point. My choice is healthy productive bees first, and these girls aren't as bad as other hive's I've had. By a long shot actually. It is easier to work on getting them gentler than try to reincarnate dead colonies. So barring that, what else could I have done to make effort better?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Sedgwick Co. KS
    Posts
    1,167

    Default Re: Nightime hive work

    I see no mention of smoke. If & when I approach an aggressive hive, I always use smoke to help calm them.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Dickson TN
    Posts
    1,943

    Default Re: Nightime hive work

    I've found a green light works better than red they show no interest in the green light.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Caldwell TX USA
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Nightime hive work

    Tim,

    No smoke. My experience with this hive in the past is that it doesn't really affect them. If anything, they appreciate the advanced warning. It gives them a chance to call out the troops to meet before I even crack it open.

    SlowDrone, Interesting. Do you have a link to an ebay auction with the shade of green you are talking about? Maybe something like: http://www.ebay.com/itm/5W-Zoomable-...gAAOSwc-tY8KrZ

    For the one I have, it is similar to: http://www.ebay.com/itm/US-13000LM-R...Nae-5AeoW5gx7w . This one actually can come in green or red. The white light on my can light up a tree 200 yards away. I would think they could see the green better than red?

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2014
    Location
    Dickson TN
    Posts
    1,943

    Default Re: Nightime hive work

    The hydroponic one is the best the first one you listed. Yes I thought the same thing but I learn by accident when I misplaced my red headlamp I used a green one instead and found they didn't react to it at all. I did notice while using the red there was some reaction to the red but not like using the regular light. Yep my headlamps are pretty strong too but the green seems a little subdued and actually gives better light to work than the red does.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    Verde Valley, Arizona,United States
    Posts
    477

    Default Re: Nightime hive work

    Its not gonna matter green or red just not bright white at night if they are aggresive like mine. I usually have a garage light or a shed light on that I make a stop at back to the house. Yes dont forget the brush. They crawl more than fly at night.try really early in the morning slowly open the lid and dont breath. Ive got several complete screen. picture frame, style that I use to seal the entire hive up when I have to move them away.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Farmington, New Mexico
    Posts
    8,315

    Default Re: Nightime hive work

    You and the chickens don't have to put up with an aggressive hive. Re-queening with stock from a reputable breeder should be on your list of options.
    Nobody ruins my day without my permission, and I refuse to grant it...

  9. #8
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
    Posts
    2,575

    Default Re: Nightime hive work

    I have a fairly aggressive hive that I need to move, but right now it’s only about 100 ft from one of my chicken coops. So going into that hive until I move it (yes, that will be in the fairly near future) during daytime can lead to problems.
    No smoke. My experience with this hive in the past is that it doesn't really affect them.
    If I couldn't go into a hive during the daytime because chickens are 100 feet away, and smoke did not really affect them, I would split the hive up, find the queen, and pinch her as soon as practical.
    David Matlock

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Caldwell TX USA
    Posts
    119

    Default Re: Nightime hive work

    I understand all the guys who say they wouldn't keep an aggressive hive. That is your choice and your advice. That's a path I'm not on and won't be on for the foreseeable future. I respect your decision, I hope you accept that I'm not moving that way at this time. Right now I'm slowlyl moving my hives about 500 ft away from any structure/animal that I care about (other than the cows, but they can run). The hives will be in a 30x20' paneled dog run, so no chance of the cows getting in & knocking things around.

    I go into my hives a minimal amount. I don't go looking for the queen. I don't chemically treat. I don't stand outside the hive and sing them lullabies. Sure, some of that might be fun. I would learn more if they were gentler and I could do more observing. But I'm happy that my strong hives are alive and thriving.

    My experience is that gentle bees just don't survive around here. I've caught a couple of gentle swarms, and each time the colony fails within weeks/months. I give them the same treatment as other colonies: sugarwater (amount varies with time of year), reduced entrance (reduce robbing and reduce leaving), their own brood (depending if swarm or cut-out), and some of their stores (honey/pollen).

    Note that when I say 'aggressive', I don't mean crazy-aggressive, by that I mean bees that will stay on you if you walk 1/2 mile away, as in you can barely see through them. No, my bees aren't that bad. On their 'bad days', they'll stay on me for maybe 100 or 200 yards if I go deeper into the hive. And the same hive a day later might only be 1/10th as aggressive. No, it would be foolish to ever work the yard without a full suit. I don't call that gentle bees, I call that sissy bees! An example, the other evening around dusk (15 minutes too early it turns out) I went up to the hives on my riding mower, and looked over at 2 hives from 5 ft away. My thought was it was past dusk and they'd be inside... and I looked (duh, there was enough light to see them!) to see them starting to boil out.... REVERSE! I managed to ride away with only 1 sting behind the ear (I was very stupid and very lucky). OK, I deserved that.

    I want to make this thread about nighttime beekeeping with the premise of aggressive bees. Not crazy-aggressive, but modestly aggressive.

    OK, back on topic. The past 2 evenings I've worked the bees about 1/2 hour after 'dark'. Worked 2 colonies, one I've had a couple of months and another I cut out yesterday morning. The first evening I finished assembling the 20x30' dog pen and moved both colonies inside. The second evening I went into the top box of both hives, removed the feeder from the older that I had forgotten, and fed the new colony. Both colonies also got new D.E.Hive vented covers (I'm curious to see how well they work here in Texas).

    Both evenings my 'light was my truck headlights parked 30' away. I had a flashlight I used sparely as well. I did notice a handful (5-10?) bees on the headlights. At most I had 50 bees in the air. Never more than 10 bees on me. The older hive was very relaxed, hardly anyone flying (but it was maybe 50' from the truck). The new cutout was a bit more angry (but they had been locked in all day, so they were likely a bit warm from the mid-80's weather today. They did lots of crawling around and some flying. I also un-blocked their entrance. That hive was maybe 20' from the truck's headlights which gave them more light to see. Note minimal moon/star light either night.

    But I'm going to call this a success. Lots less bees in the air. Hardly any blocking my view. Now note that I'm not pulling frames, hunting for a queen. Doing things that require lots of light or time. Basically add boxes, replace broken equipment, change some things out.

    Another factor (I think someone else mentioned it above, or maybe I read it on another thread?) is that night activities really minimizes inter-hive conflicts. If I open up one hive, have honey boxes sitting out, there is no worries of other hives jumping in to rob them and having bee battles start. For example when I brought home the cut-out Thursday mid-day, I forgot that I put some of their honey onto a frame in an open box. I was going to put this into a trap-out box I have at the neighbor's. While I was setting in place the cut-out bees (5 minutes?), I had 1000 bees from my other hives on that frame stealing like politicians in DC. Oops, my mistake. But at night that would not have been an issue at all. And I'm sure this is an issue for gentle bees as well as aggressive ones.

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