Frame Inspection Quesion (Shaking Bees Off)
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    San Diego, CA- USA
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    Default Frame Inspection Quesion (Shaking Bees Off)

    Hi and thanks for looking over my question.

    I watched a tutorial this afternoon about what to look for during the initial Spring hive inspection. The video instructor suggested that before you move any frame away from the hive-body, to always shake the bees off just in case the queen was on it and you missed her.

    This sounds like good advise, but out of the many other YouTube vids that I've watched, this was the first time that I've heard this. I did try and Google the pros and cons, but people seemed to have mixed opinions, mainly in reference to the brood-nest becoming disrupted.

    As a brand new beekeeper to be, my biggest fear is losing the queen. The risk of disrupting some of the brood-nest seems worth the extra precaution if it helps keep the queen healthy, and I wanted to know if I am missing anything? Why not take that extra step? Would I be doing more harm than I'm aware of?

    As always, thanks for your time.


    B1rd
    First Year Backyard Hobbyist-
    (San Diego Ca.- Zone 10a)

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default Re: Frame Inspection Quesion (Shaking Bees Off)

    Some do this, but I don't. Usually you shake frames to dislodge the bees from it so you can get a good look at the frame. Sometimes you do it to dislodge the bees, especially nurse bees when making splits and raising queens. I do not want to shake a frame with the queen on it. A better practice is to hold frames over the hive, look for queen and then shake bees off IF necessary. I rarely find it necessary to shake to see what I am looking for. If I spot the queen on a frame, I put that frame in a quiet box while I go through the rest of the inspection. You can use anything as a quiet box, but I have used Jester Nuc boxes which tend to tip over when not balanced. Now I am using a wooden Nuc box. A small dishtowel or political sign can be used to cover it. J

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    10,414

    Default Re: Frame Inspection Quesion (Shaking Bees Off)

    no need to shake them off for inspections, if anything you will stir them up more making the inspection more difficult.

    holding the frame over the hive as you look at it is a good idea because the queen can fall off the frame and you may not see that happen.

    if the frame has a lot of bees on it and want to see what's underneath the bees just blow gently on the bees and they will move off of that spot.

    i like to have an empty nuc box with me during inspections and when i pull the frame with the queen on it i'll put it in the empty nuc box for safekeeping until it's time to put it back.

    with the queen's frame in the nuc box you don't have to be as careful and can finish up the rest of your work in that hive more quickly and with more confidence of not hurting the queen.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    England, UK
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    Default Re: Frame Inspection Quesion (Shaking Bees Off)

    For routine inspections, just blow gently on the bees to get a better look or move bees out of the way with your finger.

    The only time I normally shake bees off a frame is when I need to remove that frame permanently from a hive - say, to donate a brood frame to another colony. When doing this, I place a purpose-made hopper over the open hive and shake the bees into it - this stops any bees from ending-up on the floor. I also try to ensure that the queen is not on the subject frame - if she is, then I gently shepherd her down onto the top bar of another frame.

    One exception to this is when - despite multiple tries - I still can't find that lady, at which point I bring a Marburg Box into play. The first frame to be shaken-off into the Marburg hopper is a stores comb, which then provides an initial 'blanket' of bees at the bottom of the hopper onto which the following bees will land. Then, it's shake-off each brood comb in turn. There's usually only 2 or 3 brood frames left after dividing-up a large colony, and so the queen is usually fairly quickly found - and then marked in order to obviate the need to repeat this performance ! The beauty of the one-sided Marburg hopper is that is the queen will either slide down an incline, or land on other bees, and so any trauma is minimised. Never lost a queen yet when shaking-off bees this way - but obviously, it pays to remove her first, if this is at all possible.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Location
    Newtown, ct
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    83

    Default

    B1rd, allgood advice. It is natural to be scared of loosing a queen. Do you have just one hive? I always recommend new beeks have two hives, that way if you roll on queen you have the ability to boost the queen less hive with resources. LJ, do have pictures of your Marburg Box? I have been entertaining building one in this “safer at home” period

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    England, UK
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    2,049

    Default Re: Frame Inspection Quesion (Shaking Bees Off)

    Quote Originally Posted by HeadofMeadow View Post
    LJ, do have pictures of your Marburg Box? I have been entertaining building one in this “safer at home” period
    Sure - so as not to high-jack this thread, I've posted some pics over on the 'Equipment' Sub-Forum. Am looking forward to seeing a few pics of yours in due course.
    best,
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
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    San Diego, CA- USA
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    80

    Default Re: Frame Inspection Quesion (Shaking Bees Off)

    Thanks for the replies.

    Just to clarify though, I was mainly asking if I should shake the bees off any frames that I intend to set aside and away from the main box (IE: lean against the hive-body or hang from a frame holder), and not so much during a routine inspection. However, from the replies, as well as the various videos that I've seen, it seem like most people do not shake the bees of as a matter of routine.

    And yes, I will only have the one hive at first, but I have been purchasing additional Mediums, some more frames and foundations and if things work out, I'll get the rest of the stuff to get a second hive together. And I also purchased one of those "Pro Nucs," which I'm excited about.


    Thanks again,
    b1rd
    First Year Backyard Hobbyist-
    (San Diego Ca.- Zone 10a)

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default Re: Frame Inspection Quesion (Shaking Bees Off)

    Ok, I see what you mean now. Yes, I'd say most beekeepers do this. You will be doing yourself a favor the first year if you place the frames in a nuc box, instead of on the ground. You usually only need to pull one or two frames to be able to work the box without incident. I have been guilty of setting a frame full of bees on the ground against something, but I always do a thorough look for the queen first. It is always better to put them in a box though, so try to get in that habit. They will be much calmer and mishaps will be avoided. J

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2019
    Location
    San Diego, CA- USA
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    80

    Default Re: Frame Inspection Quesion (Shaking Bees Off)

    Thanks.

    I am considering on using a box, or "calm box" as I've heard others call them.

    And I did order a cheapish cardboard Nuc box this morning, and I have one of those "Pro Nucs" on order as well.
    First Year Backyard Hobbyist-
    (San Diego Ca.- Zone 10a)

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ka'u Hawaii
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    302

    Default Re: Frame Inspection Quesion (Shaking Bees Off)

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    For routine inspections, just blow gently on the bees to get a better look or move bees out of the way with your finger.

    LJ
    8

    I have a couple of nucs where I've been looking for the new queen to start laying. Just today I looked again and blew gently on the area where the eggs should have been. That cleared the area so I could see. Alas, still no eggs. The bees are not crying as though queenless, but I've not been able to find the queens in these 2 either. Future drone laying workers? I hope not, but I will give them a few days qnd check again.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Sawyer County,WI USA
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    381

    Default Re: Frame Inspection Quesion (Shaking Bees Off)

    Quote Originally Posted by b1rd View Post
    Thanks for the replies.

    Just to clarify though, I was mainly asking if I should shake the bees off any frames that I intend to set aside and away from the main box (IE: lean against the hive-body or hang from a frame holder), and not so much during a routine inspection. However, from the replies, as well as the various videos that I've seen, it seem like most people do not shake the bees of as a matter of routine.

    And yes, I will only have the one hive at first, but I have been purchasing additional Mediums, some more frames and foundations and if things work out, I'll get the rest of the stuff to get a second hive together. And I also purchased one of those "Pro Nucs," which I'm excited about.


    Thanks again,
    b1rd
    I guess it depends on what you'er gonna do. I only 'gently' shake or brush bees off of frames (over the hive body) that I'm using for making up splits or nucs (using the Doolittle method)....and after diligently looking for queen.

    And as advised I 'always have a spare hive body nearby whenever conducting any type of inspection.....just in case.

    One never knows what one may encounter when opening a colony of honeybees, an extra box can be a great help.

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