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Discussion Starter #1
I'm ecstatic that my hives, stocked April 31, has comb and larvae. They are in our wildlife area with lots of fruit trees and other sources of pollen but are still emptying the sugar water quart jars every few days. My question is how often to disturb them in checking the hive? I'd love to do it everyday but I know I shouldn't! I do have an observation window but it doesn't show everything. Thanks for any advice.
 

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Depends on what your doing. For an everyday hive just starting out....I'd say no more than once a week to check that they're building comb and bringing in resources..pollen and nectar. Once everything is up n running, every 2-3 weeks maybe? Checking for larva, eggs resources. I'm a newbie and there may be better answers. Get into queen raising and those boxes are gotten into almost everyday.
 

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I agree with Santa Caras. With a new hive you shouldn't have to worry about swarming for a little bit, but they can surprise you. When you inspect you don't have to completely check the entire hive, you can start from the rear of the brood nest and check for eggs. If you see eggs you are queen right. And of course you want to ensure they are pulling straight comb. Once you get to 4 or 5 brood bars you can put new bars in the middle of the next to insure that they pull straight comb and to keep the brood nest open.
 

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I have had bees for over 45 years, my rule is check them weekly.
If not something wrong will go over the whole hive.
Just my 2cents.
 

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Unless I have good reason, I don't open the hives.
My version of checking is two-fold.
i watch the entrances for a few seconds as I walk by.
You can tell most of what you need to know that way.
i tilt the hive to check the weight.
That tells me the rest of what I need to know.
i actually open them maybe three times per year, not counting taking supers off and putting them on and feeding in Winter (Mountaincamp method, only if light).
 

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How do you check for swarm cells if you only go in three times a year? How can you tell a hive is queen less without looking for signs of a queen?
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for all the replies, I'm thinking once a week is good. Since I have top bar hives, I know you have to keep an eye on the comb and so far, so good. It's exciting!
 

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How do you check for swarm cells if you only go in three times a year? How can you tell a hive is queen less without looking for signs of a queen?
It should be noted that I beekeep according to the Lazy Beekeeper's Guide.
I'm not offering this as advice to anyone.
Just illustrating there is more than one way to do it.
Someone here said it: "Everything works if you let it".
Some Stranger, I think....

I don't check for swarm cells.
In early Spring I checkerboard the frames.
If that doesn't do it, then maybe they'll swarm.
That just means the hive might have to wait until next year to produce some honey for me.
That's why I have a few hives.
More often than not, I win.
Beekeeping is a game of chance, with the odds in my favor.

WRT queenlessness: In the afternoons, there will significant orienting going on in front of the hive nearly every day.
That means there is a good supply of fresh bees.
I won't worry about the queen unless I notice a lack of a certain level of activity, i.e. coming and going, orienting, marching, bearding, hive weight, etc.
 

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Mailmam - Pester the crap out of them! How else you gonna learn? Seriously, your first year get in there every chance you get whenever the urge strikes. The beginners that don't make it are the ones that are NOT excited about getting in there, not the ones that pester their bees too much. Don't worry, your bees will benefit in the long run because you will be a better beekeeper for it.

Plan to make increase as soon as you can so that you can spread the joy a bit thinner between more hives!
 

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Mailmam - Pester the crap out of them! How else you gonna learn? Seriously, your first year get in there every chance you get whenever the urge strikes. The beginners that don't make it are the ones that are NOT excited about getting in there, not the ones that pester their bees too much. Don't worry, your bees will benefit in the long run because you will be a better beekeeper for it.

Plan to make increase as soon as you can so that you can spread the joy a bit thinner between more hives!
I love hearing this! I do want the pester the crap out of them but don't want them to run away from home.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I do have an observation window but it doesn't show everything, I probably didn't make it big enough.
 

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I do have an observation window but it doesn't show everything, I probably didn't make it big enough.
Mine doesn't show everything, either, and b/c my feeder is on the small side (and they eat like crazy), I am "checking" them every two days, though that doesn't mean opening the whole hive (that I do weekly and should've started during week one). I just got started, too, so I totally get the impulse to want to look! I fill the smaller feeder (a permanent location at the end of the hive -- I think of it as the front porch b/c they really like to hang out there, even though there's no comb or anything), and that has helped me get used to the sound of the hive, the behavior of these bees, just kind of get a feel for it. The first time I shook bees off the feeder so I could fill it, and heard the suddenly rise in buzzing volume, I thought "oh oh, now I've done it" -- turned out not to be much of a thing at all! A spike in sound, but no angry stinging backlash. I wouldn't have got that if I weren't out with them every couple of days. And it has increased my confidence enormously. So I also like the idea of getting out there and "pestering" the hive, getting to know the bees and how you feel being around them in their various moods. I've been quite surprised -- I've opened the front porch on rainy days, found it full of bees, and they remained quite calm (of course, I'm not in the brood nest!). I watch them still zinging home with pollen in the evening, and they don't mind me being around then, either. The whole learning curve is just so much fun, so engaging, so cool to be part of (even when it isn't:rolleyes:).

You might also find that you can only use the observation window for a few minutes anyway, before all the bees come over to figure out why all that light is coming in and cover the window with little bee bodies, trying to find the gap!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Oh, I see, I didn't know what you were talking about. So this entire hive is behind glass? Do you put shutter up when you aren't looking or do they do okay living in a glass house?
 

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Yes, both sides are behind glass. Since bees prefer the dark, I have two pieces of Masonite sheets that slide over the tempered glass when I am not observing.
 

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Every beekeeper would probably start out better with an observation hive. Then they could learn how much and what can be observed by inspecting the entrance, rather than disturbing the innards. Keep that in mind when you catch your first swarm!

I took my observation hive to my wife's school for years, as part of a presentation on insects/beekeeping. This year one of her former 2nd grade students - now a teacher herself, asked if I could come in...:)
 

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Mailmam - Pester the crap out of them! How else you gonna learn? Seriously, your first year get in there every chance you get whenever the urge strikes. The beginners that don't make it are the ones that are NOT excited about getting in there, not the ones that pester their bees too much. Don't worry, your bees will benefit in the long run because you will be a better beekeeper for it.

Plan to make increase as soon as you can so that you can spread the joy a bit thinner between more hives!
I did that last year with my first 2 hives and they not only survived my stupidity but also flourished this year. So take this advice!
It's imposible to become a lazy beekeeper from the begining.
 

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My answer is, "almost never." You should walk by the hive every few days and make sure that there is activity. When installing a new hive, you should confine them to a small area with follower-boards, then take out those boards after 30 days or so when the brood starts to come in – the population of the hive will fairly explode after that, so give 'em room.

Bees live naturally in trees, eaves, boxes, and walls. You've just given them a box that's convenient for you. It's important, and of course, pleasant, to watch them at work from the outside. (If you do this very regularly, you will notice changes.) But it's disruptive when you start poking-around in that place. Yes, every few weeks or so you might take a quick peek inside to see more exactly what's going on, but try to keep those encounters very short until you're harvesting honey.
 
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