Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 20 of 20 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
218 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey there:

What is a good rule of thumb for a new beek to check his hives ? I'm on my really first year, have captured two swarms, they are doing extremely well. I find it's hard to stay out of them, I like this so much.

I also know they need some peace and quiet, but I want to know how often should they be checked ? I live here in hot & humid S.W. Louisiana, really love my bees, and want to give them the best possible care.

I am also retired, so schedule is very flexible.

Thanks to all,

casper_zip
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
248 Posts
I really only have weekends so I try to check weekly. If something like bad weather or travel plans don't allow me to inspect, I make very sure not to go more than two weeks. If I had complete flexibility, I would probably inspect about every 10 days.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
46 Posts
Heya! I'm almost up to my first month with a hive - yay!!

My understanding is, it depends on what your goals are in the first year. When you smoke and disturb the hive, it sets back their honey production. If a lot of honey is your goal, then it's been suggested to me that checking every 7-10 days id reasonable.
Personally, I'm learning what to look for and figure out what is going on in the box, so I check 'em about every 3-4 days or so. They seem to be fine.
Hope that helps :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,016 Posts
I want to check it every 7 or 8 days. This way you will catch any queen cups/cells before it gets so far along it is really hard to deal with. I don't get to do this though - or at least not this spring.

Also smoking has never been shown to disturb the hive for more than 30 minutes I believe it was - not proof though. I smoke the hives and they usually appear normal within an hour I'd say.

I believe you would have to be in them every day (maybe every other day) to get them so messed up they might leave. The more often you go in the more irritable they may bcome. But this is probably not an issue when the hive is new since the population is small, not much stores or brood so the bees seem less protective.

If last year was an example - they won't be so nice come fall when they want those stores left along :D

Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,799 Posts
What do you mean by checking hives? Are you removing and examining each frame? If so, once a week is plenty. If you are simply popping the top and looking down at them then two to three days between opening is ok.

Your biggest concern should be the inadvertent harming of your queen. Every time you do a full tear down you risk harming her. Develop a routine where you start each inspection by removing an outside frame to give you more room as you insert & put back other frames.

Do you have any clubs holding open hives near you? You can learn a lot about handling bees by attending them. Our club has three scheduled for this summer (first one yesterday) - I highly recommend them as a place to see how other folks "do it."
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
One rule of thumb that I would encourage, especially newbies, is to stay out of the brood nest as much as possible. If that is what you mean by how often to check a hive. Otherwise, check to see if another super needs to be put on every week, ten days or two weeks.

But, when you are checking to see if another super needs to be applied you happen to notice or you get a feeling that something isn't right, check the brood area to see if the queen is doing her job. If she is and what you see looks healthy and of sufficiency, put it back together and leave it be.

You can do damage by too much inspection too often. (or is that "more too often" hambone?) :)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,016 Posts
I personally have found removing the first frame first tends to rip the comb up on any bur built on the hive wall (crushing bees along the way also). So I remove the second then slide the first over to remove. I know this is probably obvious to everyone but it took me a while to get in this habit.

Some books have said that it may only be necessary to inspecting a hive 7 times (I think it was) in a year. This sounds like authors trying hard to make it sound simpler than it is. It may only be necessary to open that hive 7 times - but how many times do you have to inspect to find one time when the next inspection is an absolute necessity? :D

I agree about the endangering of the queen. If you just spent a lot on a queen you realize the danger your in when your pulling and moving frames. But I don't see how you can leave the brood nest alone. That is where the activity is. This is where swarm cells/cups, drone cells - just about everything that gives you information about the hive is. All the rest are it's stores.

These are just my opinions. Maybe as I get more experience some will change.
Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
Once you have checked the brood nest a cpl of times during the spring and late summer, everything should be alright and swarming should be over with and there should be little if not no need to check the brood nest.

Seven times? Let's see. Once to check the amount of brood, its' placement and to take brood and bees for a split. Once to check to see if more room is needed or another split can be made. Once more at apple pollination time to assess hive for pollination purposes. Once after pollination to make more splits or equalize brood and to add supers. Another check to add supers and another to check to add supers. Once more to remove honey supers. Once more to put wet supers back on. Once again to remove honey supers and to treat for varroa, making ready for transport to South Carolina.

That's about ten times between early to mid March and Sept/Oct for me. There maybe another time or maybe two trips, but you'll notice there were only about 3 or 4 times that I went into the brood nest. There probably aught to be a brood check in the fall after honey comes off. Or actually when honey comes off to make sure adequate stores are left in the deeps.

So, let's say 12 times between March 15 and Oct. 15 in northern NY. That would be 12 times in 31 weeks or once every 18 days on average.

If i had done it only 7 times that would have been once every 31 days. Or once a month, on average.

Here are some questions. Why are you going into your hives? Just curious? For a real reason? If you are worried about something, such as disease or queen cells, what did your last inspection tell you? Do you really need to get into the brood nest?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,016 Posts
It all seems to be opinion since some will tell you to leave them along (which I am for myself as long as they behave). Others will complain if you mention you leave them alone :scratch:

The biggest reason I go in is to make sure they aren't wanting to swarm.
But also queens can fail anytime. I don't want to find a hive with laying workers because I want to stay out of the nest.

Let's see. Last year the bees swarmed in august-sept..
This year the first hive swarmed 5/20. And is wanting to do it again.
They needed requeening (by the way the hive that needed requeening packed honey away like mad so they would have appeared healthy if I didn't know they were without a laying queen).

I don't usually go into the hives for fun (I don't like being stung).
I go in to get a picture of what the entire hive is doing. Without it I can only guess what the hive is up to.

Your schedule is nice, but it is a schedule for what appears to be a puppy dog hive that will fetch your paper too ;)
What about when there are problems?

Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
Your schedule is nice, but it is a schedule for what appears to be a puppy dog hive that will fetch your paper too ;)
What about when there are problems?

Mike
Those "dates" wre just a rough for instance, not a set schedule.

"puppy dog hive"? No comprende amigo.

What about when there are problems? If I did what I should have there shouldn't be any problems. And, if problems turn up upon next check (inspection) I'll deal w/ them accordingly when they appear.

I have 600 colonies and work primarily by myself. I can't baby sit each hive. Nor micro manage them either. They have to be able to take care of themselves for at least 2 to 3 weeks at a time during the spring/summer and 2 to 3 months during the winter. And they do.

Bet yours could too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,035 Posts
Lets see swarms started here in may, and I have seen swarms as late as the end of august. Bees in trees make no honey for mees, so I inspect about every 10 days, and that always includes each frame of the brood nest. I know a few large operators who do full inspections 4 or 5 times a year, lets just say folks near them get alot of freebees.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,016 Posts
...
"puppy dog hive"? No comprende amigo.
Easy. No problems. Doesn't want to leave home. Sorry but that schedule made it sound like a puppy was being taken care of, not thousands of bugs with very contrary ideas.

...
I have 600 colonies and work primarily by myself. I can't baby sit each hive. Nor micro manage them either. They have to be able to take care of themselves for at least 2 to 3 weeks at a time during the spring/summer and 2 to 3 months during the winter. And they do.
2 to 3 weeks between visits? 14 to 21 days between even looking inside? I imagine with 600 hives you have to. But I guess it is also because with 600 hives a few lost or escaped swarms doesn't mean a lot.

Bet yours could too.
Yes they do. To the point of building up and wanting to leave.

I thought it was going easy this year. I was staying out of their way - but then they swarmed, superseded, started backfilling.
I have 2 1/2 hives right now. I don't babysit them. Usually way to busy for that.
But I also realize they haven't made any repayment on their expense as to date.

Maybe at some point in the future I will find there isn't a need to examine within 8 days (right now I don't see that as logically happening though). 8 days is the principle time given in just about any book and it kind of makes sense, considering the development periods of brood.

Sorry if my post got you a little irritated ;)
Mike
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,683 Posts
Sometimes, just peaking in the tops is enough.
One can assess so much just by walking up to a hive and looking, then popping the lid and listening.
If that is not enough, just cracking the brood chambers and raising the box to see between and checking for swarm cells is enough. Then if you see cells, then you can go through and examine the hive.
Yes, as a newbie you can check alot, but each time you risk damage to the queen.
Once you get a pattern down, and once you get to know what a healthy hive is, post spring work, look, listen and cracking, might be all you need to do. Most hives can get by on their own with only observations and supering until pre fall workup.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
218 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you all for the answers. The real reason I want to check my hives often, is; learning experience with hands on, and I want to make sure my bees are healthy, etc. I have not been into my broods, yet, but I will next visit to them.

I now have a total of 8 hives, all strong, and looking good. I put on new supers on my two newest swarms I caught, they were needing them for more room.

This hot weather down here makes them come out on th porch and do a lot of fanning and bearding up. I thought at first when I saw this, they must need some more space. That proved not to be correct once I opened most of them. The ones needing more room, I added supers.

This is the most rewarding "job" I've ever had, I am really enjoying this. I even dream of bees sometimes. I have my kinfolks, grandkids, neighbors, all hands fired up about bees. We have formed a bee club here in my neck of the woods.

When I get time, I am starting to scout out my timber tracts for any signs of "wild" bees and hoping later I can capture them. I saw two large swarms high up in the air on two different days, and they refused to come down low enough for capture. Hopefully, I will/can be able to locate them in the woods near my home here.

I am getting pretty good organized, now. Have the equipment I need, three extra 10 frame hives complete, extra super, etc. I also built my own bee swarm catcher from an extendabe pole with a 5 gallon water bottle on the end of it. I should be able to stand on the ground and reach up to 20-25 feet with it. Saw one like it on one of the videos on the internet.

I have a spare ATV with my little farm trailer on it, have my hives, bee tools, all I need for beekeeping.

Done wrote a book. I thank God for leading me to this fascinating working with bees. It is awesome that God granted this little insect such power, wisdom, and work ethic and now man needs to help protect him and take care of him.

I know they have done good without man's help, but man is very gifted for destroying this good earth that God gifted us with.

Best,

casper_zip
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
2,668 Posts
I encourage beginner beekeepers to get in their hives as often as they want - the more often, the better. This is how they learn the rate of progression, and how things work in a hive. You need to gain experience working inside the hive, before you can get a good idea of what's going on inside just by watching the entrance activity.

Once they have a working knowledge of the hive, aspects such as production and time management become higher priorities. By this time, beginners should be more experienced, and have a good idea of how much a hive will change in between inspections. You will have a better idea of how much time you have before needing to add supers, or how soon supers will be ready to pull, or how long before a growing broodnest will need another round of pollen patties.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,373 Posts
How often and how thoroughly one opens and looks through a hive or hives, depends mostly on why you are keeping the bees.

My main purpose in keeping bees is because I enjoy watching them do what they do, so I open many of my hives almost every day and usually examine each frame, often, more than once. Harvesting honey, raising queens and nucs are just some of the ways I can use to increase the time I spend watching the bees and what they do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34,542 Posts
Easy. No problems. Doesn't want to leave home. Sorry but that schedule made it sound like a puppy was being taken care of, not thousands of bugs with very contrary ideas.

But I guess it is also because with 600 hives a few lost or escaped swarms doesn't mean a lot.

Sorry if my post got you a little irritated ;)
Mike
No, I'm not at all irritated. Sorry you got that impression.

That schedule is what I do to make splits for replacements and increase and to be ready for pollination and then to make a honey crop. I don't see how you can think that my bees don't want to leave home. Unless you mean don't want to swarm.

W/ 600 colonies a swarm can mean the loss of 60 lbs of honey. So I do what I can to manage them so they don't swarm. Which doesn't mean that I am 100% effective.

I make my living, such as it is, by keeping bees and selling honey. So my time is split between tending to hives and bottling and distributing honey when each of those things demands to be done. Fortunately most of my customers are at least as understanding and forgiving as my bees are, if not more so. It's not like during those 14 to 21 days I am lying on a beach somewhere. Though that would be nice, I guess.

I guess if I had two hives I might be going into them every eight days or so too. But I don't remember doing so when I did, all those many years ago.

Enjoy your bees and don't worry about insulting me or hurting my feelings. I've been stung before. I've stopped flintching and taking offense at the bees for doing what they do.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
290 Posts
@casper_zip, you're going to quickly find out you can NEVER have enough equipment. :D

I spend more time in the shop building for the bees than in the bees themselves. Which they probably appreciate actually....
 
1 - 20 of 20 Posts
Top