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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I increasingly dislike doing hive inspections late in the summer and into fall, as the bees are extra defensive and robbing is prevalent. What are some strategies to minimize these problems? I don't like working with hot bees, and even my gentle hives get testy this time of year.
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

I try to slow down the inspections and when I do, I use as much smoke as I can if they're testy. For me, paying a lot of attention to what's going on at the front entrance tells me a lot about what's going on inside the hive and if I read it right, I don't have to get the smoker out unless I really have to.
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

Keep in mind even your gentle hives are full of aging foragers who are your cranky bees, and if there is no flow your hive is full of them waiting for a flow to start. As previously stated use smoke. Copious amounts of smoke if you need it.
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

I increasingly dislike doing hive inspections late in the summer and into fall, as the bees are extra defensive and robbing is prevalent. What are some strategies to minimize these problems? I don't like working with hot bees, and even my gentle hives get testy this time of year.
Wear protective gear that does not allow the bees any access.

Inspectors jacket with visor underneath veil to keep bees away from face. Jacket tucked into white painters pants. Thermal long underwear under the pants. Ankles wrapped tight with canvas leg wraps or duct tape. Dishwashing gloves pulled over jacket sleeves.

This is the same outfit I wear each year when i visit desert bees in Arizona. Even if the bees are all over me I feel relaxed and can do what i need to. I do believe that the bees respond to my mood and are calmer when I take the time to suit up for them.

Make sure you have your smoker well lit with plenty of fuel and use it before you open the hives.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

Say more about "paying a lot of attention to what's going on at the front entrance".
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

Unless you have a definable reason to intervene, stay out of the hive.

The entrance porch tells you:
how crowded the hive is,
if ventilation is appropriate,
if the bees are curing honey or consuming stores,
what pollen and how much is being collected.
You see DWV and dead bees, stonebrood, chalkbrood, and dead pink eye larvae,
you see Drones freely entering or being ejected,
you see robbing attempts.
The odor of some of the distinctive fall nectars tells you where in the yearly calendar you are, or more generally if nectar is being cured, or is all capped.
You may catch the mass orientation flights -- this tells you that cohort brood is hatching.
Make it a practice to take the "pulse" --- count landing bees over 15 secs, record it in your notebook. The pulse is a good tell-tale of hive vigor.

One hive in four can be supplied with a screen bottom and sliding insert. Pull out the insert and inspect.
You will see which frames are hatching brood -- look for yellow/straw shredded cappings, and the antenna casts of the pupation.
You can see which frame has the queen and is laying eggs -- look for the occassional dropped egg.
You can see how much the dearth is consuming stores, look for shredded wax cappings and similar frass.
You will see pollen, location and color.
And of course, you will see mites. You will see indication of chalk and stonebrood.

My region doesn't have SHB, and moth is only a problem on dead outs. If these pests are present, your approach may vary.
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

<snip>

Inspectors jacket with visor underneath veil to keep bees away from face. Jacket tucked into white painters pants. Thermal long underwear under the pants. Ankles wrapped tight with canvas leg wraps or duct tape. Dishwashing gloves pulled over jacket sleeves.

This is the same outfit I wear each year when i visit desert bees in Arizona. Even if the bees are all over me I feel relaxed and can do what i need to. <snip>
I've got a question... How can you be relaxed when it's pushing 100F and humidity is 50 percent and your wearing thermal underwear? :D
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

Hum, exactly what are you looking for? IF my front hive inspection, i.e. bees are coming and going and doing what bees are doing looks normal, I don't open the hive. Actually, unless I have reason to suspect a problem, I rarely go into the brood nest once the honey supers go on.
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

your wearing thermal underwear? :D
Maine...That poster was from Maine.
they wear thermals even in summer up there.
It's a RARE day down here if I need thermals and best turn on the news cuz I'm sure SOMETHING is being said about the weather!
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

Maine...That poster was from Maine.
they wear thermals even in summer up there.
It's a RARE day down here if I need thermals and best turn on the news cuz I'm sure SOMETHING is being said about the weather!
...a direct quote from the poster... "This is the same outfit I wear each year when i visit desert bees in Arizona. Even if the bees are all over me I feel relaxed and can do what i need to."

Notice the "desert bees in Arizona" part? :D
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

Actually MA is Massachusetts. Maine is ME. I just moved from Maine & can't say I ever owned a pair of thermal underwear. I did when I lived in the Adirondacks around Lake Placid where it really got chilly but almost never in the summer.

Absent dressing like the Michelin Man in the bee yard, I go into the hives quickly and with a mission in mind and with more smoke than they've seen in a while.

Wayne
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

I live in Massachusetts. The thermals aren't for warmth, they are to make a buffer between the stingers and your skin.

I only suit up like this if I am about to deal with potentially very assertive bees. I make a jhdgement call...discomfort from heat vs. discomfort from bees.

I sometimes have a hive or two here in Massachusetts that is in a mood. If they are healthy and producing bees and honey, I'm willjng to accomodate.

I should have said that the tbermals are optiknal depending on the bees.


Maine...That poster was from Maine.
they wear thermals even in summer up there.
It's a RARE day down here if I need thermals and best turn on the news cuz I'm sure SOMETHING is being said about the weather!
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

This is the same outfit I wear each year when i visit desert bees in Arizona. Even if the bees are all over me I feel relaxed and can do what i need to. I do believe that the bees respond to my mood and are calmer when I take the time to suit up for them.
Dee's bees?
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

JW Chestnut, that's a great list! I do try to "read" what I see from the outside, but since I had two hives that almost died of an overdose of varroa this year, and they're recovering, I've needed to just check in to see how things are going. And with my three new splits as of this spring, it can be helpful to take a look and see how they are doing. Also, my thought is that I would like to get a sense of how much honey they've got stored around the brood nest, to know if I can safely remove some of the supered honey. I'm sure you have some advice on this, too. Appreciate it.
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

Karenarnett, how did you deal with the varroa? I'm wrestling with the same issue at the moment, and i'm crossing everything i can anatomically cross that sugar dustings will be enough.
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

Thank you, Karenarnett! I'll review your link. Hubby and i did our first sugar dust this past weekend (i wrote about it at http://wabeekeepersforum.proboards.com/thread/1796/photographs-inspection-varroa-edition-photo), and we plan to dust two more times in the hopes that no further action will be required.

Sorry to have hijacked your post. Thanks for the information, and good luck with your bees!
 

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Re: ideas/suggestions for hive inspections during the "mean" and lean season?

I live in Massachusetts. The thermals aren't for warmth, they are to make a buffer between the stingers and your skin.

I only suit up like this if I am about to deal with potentially very assertive bees. I make a jhdgement call...discomfort from heat vs. discomfort from bees.

I sometimes have a hive or two here in Massachusetts that is in a mood. If they are healthy and producing bees and honey, I'm willjng to accomodate.

I should have said that the tbermals are optiknal depending on the bees.
I know I joked about suiting up heavily, but I'm going to have to figure something out about getting full protection. I've got my GB jacket and good gloves and found out last Saturday that when you need gloves....you need them. I had some bees attack my gloves and gang up on a spot on my bluejeans in about half a second, about a dozen of them,...I managed to knock them off before I got a sting. This was the hottest bees that I've encountered and the encounter has got me wondering what I will do for full protection.

Down here in the south Alabama heat and humidity I don't think I could handle the thermals. With my current gear I only need to add protection from the waist down. If I could figure out some type of pants to pull on over my jeans that would create some "distance" between me and the bees that land on me. Maybe some cheap burlap material that would be stiff but yet be breathable....maybe some type of open of net-like material. Maybe a full ventilated suit. :D Ah well, maybe the tooth fairy will come see me... :eek:

Ed
 
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