more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2016
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    Pitt, NC, USA
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    845

    Question more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    I'm a low-to-no smoker of hives this year; as a rule, when I look into a hive [not examining a lot in-depth or removing each frame, etc, generally], everybody seems oriented on her job and pays me no attention. No confusion, mass movements, angry buzzing, just business-as-usual.

    That said ..... can I check more often to see if comb's being drawn, or if the bees're taking up honey from a comb I placed into a hive, or if there're SHBs/moths I can squash? Maybe q3-5 days. When I have to actually smoke into a hive, I want to limit my intrusions to maybe once every 2 weeks or so. With smoking, behavioral changes are always obvious. Bees not so contented.

    Thx for any insights or theories on this .....

    Mitch

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Cullman, Alabama, USA
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    1,240

    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    Mitch, i am no "expert".
    My smaller hives single boxe, nucs, i would like to check weekly at least. (How much brood, wellness, etc) Hives with boxes of foundationless frames 3 or 4 days in my opinion would be prudent , to work the comb, if other measures are not in place.
    Hives 6 or7 supers high, i'm not going into un less i have to.
    I have a lit smoker on hand every time i open a hive from a strong nuc upward. Good luck ... CE
    Started summer of 2013, just another new guy, tinkering with bees.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Location
    Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, USA
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    183

    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    You don't need to smoke them until you need to smoke them. Hive strength/time of year(flow/dearth) have large influences on whether I wish I had a smoker already lit when it's not.
    Regards,
    KGB-8Fmed

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Rosebud Missouri
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    4,145

    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    My view as a new chicken hearted bee keeper is to give them a little smoke to tell them I am about to touch them. My view is that it is easyier to hide a bees mean pharamone before they get mad then after.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Covington County, Alabama, USA
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    1,629

    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    Quote Originally Posted by gww View Post
    My view as a new chicken hearted bee keeper is to give them a little smoke to tell them I am about to touch them. My view is that it is easyier to hide a bees mean pharamone before they get mad then after.
    Cheers
    gww
    This is my experience. Once you piss them off, blowing smoke at them just pisses them off more.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    I'm puzzled why you think using no smoke is less intrusive to the bees than correctly applied smoke, it's not.

    I don't know where this idea is cropping up from, again. What book, or DVD, youTube or website is peddling this wrong-headed notion?

    If you want don't want disturb to them, then don't open the box. They'll be perfectly fine with that.

    If you need a bee fix on a regular basis, then stagger the inspections more so that one's due every day or two, until you finally cry uncle and just want your non-bee life back.

    If your routine inspections turn into maniacal assaults on your person by crazed bees determined to exact revenge for grievous colony harm, then you need to improve your technique. But do not stop smoking properly because that will have the exact opposite effect.

    Nancy

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    4,192

    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    Smoke is a tool that can be used to help control the bees, such as keeping them off the top bars so that they stay in the hive. A bee with it's head in a cell is less likely to get injured than one that is running around.

    Learn to use the tool.

    Crazy Roland

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    10,341

    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    agree with the opinions that properly used smoke reduces stress for the bees and the beekeeper.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Tallapoosa, Georgia, USA
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    644

    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    With a flow, my bees could care less what I am doing... Give 'em a dearth and the smoke will be necessary for all involved.
    My smoker is always burning when I am in the box... It is there for making nucs as well as checking on the mating of a new queen.
    I use more squeezes of the bellows starting and maintaining a good smoldering fire in my smoker that I do applying smoke to a hive or nuc. It's more of a cover scent than anything when opening. Puff puff around the entrance...
    I only apply from the top when opening a tall stack. The smoker gets set down while working the bees. I pick it up and use it to move the bees off of the top of a box before I reset the next upper box on top. I am looking to get them out of harm's way.
    I look as often as I think that I need to... But I do find that as I have made more bees, I have less reason to look inside without a plan for what I may see.
    Working to propagate my survivors and staying treatment free USDA Zone 7b

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    Quote Originally Posted by tpope View Post
    I look as often as I think that I need to... But I do find that as I have made more bees, I have less reason to look inside without a plan for what I may see.
    yep.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
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    Greenbrae, CA, USA
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    743

    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    As I've gotten more experience I find that I open hives much less frequently and only when I have a good reason to. I also use a lot less protective gear and more smoke, the combination of which I think is far better for both the health of the hive and my experience working the bees.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    England, UK
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    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    My take on inspections is: inspect as often as you need to - and in my view "just to take a peek out of curiosity" doesn't fit into what constitutes 'a need'. (imo)

    To be honest I don't really get this "smoke/no-smoke vs. frequency of inspection stuff - I don't see how they're related. If you need to smoke, then smoke. If your bees allow you to work without smoke - then don't smoke. Simples.

    But have a working smoker handy - just in case - always.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    Scott county, Arkansas, Usa
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    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    I use more smoke on myself than I do on the bees.

    Alex
    Ten years of Beekeeping before varroa. Started again spring of 2014.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Knoxville, Tennessee
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    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?


  16. #15
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    Rosebud Missouri
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    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    Alex
    I do also smoke myself and my smock very well while lighting the smoker. I do think that helps also.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
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    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    I agree that with more experience under their belts most beekeepers tend to reduce the frequency of inspections, with no loss in quality of care.

    However for new beekeepers, you will only get that vital experience by handling bees, boxes and looking at frames. So don't let what you may do at some point later on (fewer inspections) deter you from getting the experience you can only get by working with bees, in person.

    Light your smoker every time - and learn to keep it going. It's too late to light it when you discover you need it, and it's sitting there without a fire. That's when a real mess happens - when you've stumbled into a situation that needs a smoker and you don't have one at the ready. You'll get stung, your bees will get killed and they'll acquire a habit of defensiveness.

    I rarely let anyone else handle my bees, and I don't use them for teaching beginning beekeepers. I fancy that my bees "know me", or at least they don't have the expectation that they are being attacked, because they have rarely had really bad, defensive experiences with me. (Well, at least lately. I know they had a miserable time when I was a new, fearful, clueless and extremely clumsy beekeeper.) Now I expect them to behave nicely. And in turn, I use the most-gentle way that I know of to manage the event - I smoke them.

    If you want to display your "experienced beekeeper chops", do what the pros do: light a smoker.

    NAncy

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Deerfield, Illinois
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    406

    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    On May 6 I introduces 16 NUCS into my hives. I felt the NUCS were low on bees and I have just left them alone. I have not looked inside and next week will inspect each hive. Unless you suspect a real problem leave them alone. My next inspection will determine if I have any queen issues and if I need a second brood box. I expect to have problems with about 2-3 hives, and will either combine or wait for anew queen. I do not understand the need to continuously inspect your colonies. I suggest you make a careful inspection when installing your packages and then one more to determine if the queen is released.

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    Menomonee Falls, Wis.
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    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    14 day inspections often catch a situation before it becomes a problem.

    Crazy Roland

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
    Location
    NW Florida
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    1,169

    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    I am in splitting mode this year. I have checked on them more than last year. I do use a smoker, but mostly on myself or a wafting smoke on them. Just having the smoker on the ground and blowing in their direction is enough in most cases if you are doing a quick check. The only time I have problems is going four boxes down to inspect the full brood box. All the foragers are coming back and not finding boxes to put their honey in. Then they tend to get testy, but they were honey bound so it needed done. Keep in mind, they are busy foraging and don't pay as much attention as other times of the year.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
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    Default Re: more frequent hives checks OK if I don't use smoke?

    Hot smoke upsets bees. Cool smoke calms bees.
    http://www.bushfarms.com/beessmoke.htm
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

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