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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My Father-In-Law is an old bee keeper. Kept bees for 30 -40 years. He tells me that if a hive is working good than don't touch it until time to harvest.
My question is...I am a new bee keeper and very curious about how everything is working. I have been in my hive about 5 or 6 times this year only for a few minutes at a time. How often should I look in the hive? Do I need to worry about disturbing them? I am always terrified that I am going to squash the queen. The last time I checked the brood was back in July. Should I be checking it more often?
Rob

[This message has been edited by BigBee (edited September 13, 2004).]
 

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Your Father-In-Law is a wise man.
Five to six times is just about right in my opinion as I firmly believe that you set them back some every time you mess with them.
I just cringe when I read of folks opening them every few days. I'd suggest an observation hive if your curiosity is that high.
You can pretty much determine what's going on inside but just watching the front for a few minutes, then maybe a peek under the top cover. If things look right on the landing board, then IMO, there is no need to go inside.
 

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I think for the beginner it's a dilimma. You want to learn, but you don't want to do what's bad for your bees. Disturbing them will cut into the production and the overall sucess of the hive, but it's also educational. I would expect a newbie to open the hive more in order to see what's going on. A more experienced beekeeper might just look at the entrance, on the tray under the bottom and listen and have a pretty good idea what's going on.

The observation hive is a wonderful tool to learn. I wish I'd had ones decades ago. I love mine.
 

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dear bigbee, i also am a new bee keeper this year and i also have wondered about how oftn it's ok to get into the hives. while i dont get into them every few days i've been at least taking off the top and looking at the supers probably once a week. i observe all sorts of amazing things that if i read about would not be so miraculous. i think in the begining the benefit outweighs the risk. i have also started to go in without gloves and i have found i am much more careful and slow and i dont kill bees as often. plus, it is fabulous to feel the heat that comes out on your hands, a sensation yu miss out on with the gloves. sincerely, sarah.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I kept bees for a few years with my father but was away from it for 12 years. I started back up again this year. I decided early on to look into the hives every Sat my first year back. I had forgotten alot. Frankly, I'm not sure my bees appreciated it but I didn't seem to suffer from productivity. Started with 2 nucs and now have 3 booming hives. I also didn't have any drawn frames so I manipulated the frames every week to get them drawn quicker. (putting undrawn in the middle moving drawn slowly to the outside)

Next year, the plan is to open them only 5 times or so for the year, other than cursory checks under the top to see if they need supers.

I think the benefit to the newbie from learning even if it causes productivity to decrease that first year pays its dividends in the long run.

Dan
 

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I think that how often depends on what your doing.

Personally, I check my established hives fully at two times of the year. By that I mean taking out the frames and checking the brood cells, etc. I do it in the spring and when I pull off the last honey. I may check a hive once or twice in the spring or more if I think that there is a problem.

I "check" my hives every week or so. I look to see the activity, look at the front of the hive for any debris and what it is.

I look to see which entrances are being used and guarded. I put my ear to the hive and listen to where they are in the hive.
I may lift the top to see if they are up at the cover and how strong. I may even lift the inner cover to look into the top box's frames.

But, unless I find something that is not right, population, activity, etc, I don't take apart a good hive during the season.

A new hive I may check several times until I know it is established and things are going right. Once the hives is on it's way, I treat it as I do an established colony.
 

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Since your a beginner I look at it this way, They are your bees. Looking into the hive and studying them is what you have to do. Once you become familiar with the hive then 5-6 times a year is ok. As a beginner I would tell them anytime you feel like it is ok. The bees get disrupted but then how will you learn. The best way is like MB said an observation hive. I had mine for a full year before I expanded and I still went in there every week. That was 30 years ago. Now I only open them up when things don't look right, bees not flying ok, to many drones, out to kill me, etc. Once you get to know the different signs then you become more reserved at opening them up. Even after 30 years I get great enjoyment in taking a hive apart just to see how everyone is doing in there.
Dan
 

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I am a beginer this year, too.

When I first got my bees I was checking them every week to ten days. Kinda got repetative. Since july I have started checking them every three weeks or so, and not going thru the whole hive I just check for eggs and brood and make sure everything is looking ok.

I think I feel more comfortable now that I am getting to know them and how they act, ect. I figure next year I will check them less. My main concern, for some reason, is swarming. I really don't want them to leave. And this year I got to see how they acted before they were going to swarm, so I should be able to catch it next year without tearing the hive apart.

Good luck to you
 
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