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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just curious as I'm very new to bee keeping. Won't the bees pretty much take care of them self's if you give them the room they need? I know various state laws require someone to inspect hives and such but my state does not so I don't see the benefit in bothering them to much.
 

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I think that kind of depends on what you want out of beekeeping. If you want to have a colony of bees, that maybe survives the winter, maybe survives varroa mites, or whatever other pests you may have in your area, and maybe give you some honey to harvest, and you don't mind replacing your bees if something happens, then no, management isn't necessary.

There's nothing necessarily wrong with that either.

If you want to try to help ensure winter survival, disease free bees, maximize honey harvest, or have a sustainable apiary, more management becomes necessary. At least that's my experience so far.

:D
 

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>Just curious as I'm very new to bee keeping. Won't the bees pretty much take care of them self's if you give them the room they need? I know various state laws require someone to inspect hives and such but my state does not so I don't see the benefit in bothering them to much.

If you put bees in a box and ignore them they will swarm. When they swarm, there is a certain percent chance the new queen won't make it back from mating. How high that percent is, varies by climate, time of year, birds, dragon flies etc. But if she doesn't make it back they will die out. There is a certain percent chance every winter that they will die and that goes up if they are not being cared for because some years there isn't enough food. Basically if you started with 100 hives and ignored them, you'd probably always have some bees in the hives, partly because swarms will move in from time to time, but the number will dwindle over time from queenlessness, winter, robbing etc. These are all things that beekeepers can intervene on to improve those odds. You can give them a queen, or some brood when you suspect they are queenless. You can make sure they have enough stores in the winter. You can help them manage space (less when there are less bees to guard it and more when they would have otherwise swarmed) and the entrance (less when there is a dearth so they don't get robbed and more when there are traffic jams in the flow) and you can do splits when they would have swarmed to the trees to keep the bees in your hives instead of the trees...

All in all, from the bees point of view, bees might do almost as well without your help, but a lot of them will end up in the trees...
 

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AMEN.... a great manager has vision and finds a team to move in that direction.. So educating yourself in how the bee works, inside its body, within its hive and the surrounding world. You will can then decide how you want to help this bee, assist you in what you desire,( money, nutrition, entertainment, education). Mr.Bushes writings are a great start, others might not agree with all practices, but they are his. Just as how you decide to manage your bees or not manage will be your decision.

Good luck let us know of your success
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies! I was planning on just giving them habitat to live in to help with declining numbers. With the new bees I have now I'm feeding them to help them get ready for winter and I was planning on trying to keep track of mites and pest.

I had heard that it can set a colony back up to 2 weeks worth of work by opening the hive....I didn't want to set mine back since they are already behind. Is that not true? From reading here it seems like everyone is in the hives every two weeks or so.
 

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Well, your're trying to get a conversation started that examines the distinct differences between heavily managed bee keeping/honey production as opposed to "newer" hobby bee keeping. The newer hobby bee keeping came about as a result of the awareness of C.C.D and perceived ill effects caused by the over use of pesticides (i.e. recent introduction of "neonictinoids", etc.). You really need to do a lot of research on the net to compare and contrast the differences between heavily managed hive keeping(every other week inspection/interuption as opposed to the more leave alone method). Reading the information on this website and the website Biobees.com(advocates a more natural approach) will make your head spin. Ultimately you've got to choose your own way when armed with all of the available information concerning heavily managed (i.e. Langstroth type hive) and a more natural/minimalist approach(i.e. Warre, top-bar hives).
 

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I had heard that it can set a colony back up to 2 weeks worth of work by opening the hive....I didn't want to set mine back since they are already behind. Is that not true? From reading here it seems like everyone is in the hives every two weeks or so.
Just opening up the hive for a few minutes is not going to set them back. I don't know where statements like that come from, but its not the first time I have heard someone say it. How does it set them back? At worse, it may cause a little confusion while you are in the hive and a few minutes afterwards, but things get back to normal much quicker than you realize, certainly nowhere near one or two weeks.
 

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Go here--http://www.bee-friendly.co.uk/ investigate the thoughts and theories of "nestdurftwarmebindung"(about 2/3 of the way down on the website). In a nutshell---bees communicate in the hive via scents, pheronomes, vibration. Every time you rip the roof to see how your girls are doing, you upset that balance greatly.
 

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I had heard that it can set a colony back up to 2 weeks worth of work by opening the hive....I didn't want to set mine back since they are already behind. Is that not true? From reading here it seems like everyone is in the hives every two weeks or so.
Even if you pull every frame out and look at it, put it back in the same place, and close the hive back up, I can't see where it would "set them back". Now if you made any modifications - moved frames around, switched hive boxes, etc., I can see where they might need some time to adjust.

I've not seen any studies on this or facts. Anyone else?

Rick
 

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No studies. The more you do, the more they have to redo. Re-propolizing everything, re-building bridge comb etc. Not too sure this qualifies as setting them back, or that you could ascribe a time frame to these disturbances. If you use smoke, do they not eat stores/nectar that they otherwise would not have? Does this matter? If you had 100 hives, and you inspected 50 of them every 2 weeks how far different would they be at the end of the season. Not a whole lot I'd bet.

Additionally, if you inspected every 2 weeks and it set the hive back by two weeks, you would never get anywhere right?

:D
 

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Not A Warre hive owner, however I have to comment on this:

I was planning on just giving them habitat to live in to help with declining numbers.
I started last year with swarms and sort of had this idea, too. But experience has taught me it is mostly wishful thinking. I had had two decades of unmanaged honey bees living in my barns' walls, before they suddenly and inexplicably disappeared some time between Dec. 2012 and May 2013. Luckily for me three new swarms re-inhabited this area, which when cut-out and hived (in Langs because I wanted to keep things simple) became my now-managed bees.

I had a vague feeling that if I helped the bees by providing them with "better" living condtions than they might have had in the walls they would be fine. This idea arose from reading and being drawn to the idea of a more natural, less interventionist, approach to bees.

A year's experience has taught me differently. My three colonies have established themselves, survived last winter, grown into large, healthy colonies that are socking away major amounts of honey and pollen. One grew large enough to makea split into two. But that didn't happen because I just hived them and left them to their devices.

While the bees are astoundingly hardy and rescourceful creatures, their odds of success have been enormously increased because I learned to feed them (when necessary, at various times and in various ways depending on the season), treat them for mites (when necessary), protected them from the winter's vicissitudes (very necessary during last year's unusually fierce Polar Vortex), manipulate their brood expansion (during the Spring to moderate their urge to swarm away) and in many other ways protect them from natural stressors: easy access to water on hot days; positioning of their hive to discourage predation from rodents and skunks; ground cover designed reduce SHB pupation near the hives; windbreaks and tie-downs during wind-emergencies, etc.

Man-made nest cavities (whether TBH, Warre or plain Jane Langs) are not "ideal" habitats, they may or may not be an improvement for honey bees on the natural cavities they might find. But keep this in mind: the majority of swarmed colonies perish every year, so the odds are against them anyway.

If you want to "help" your bees, you need to provide more than just a cavity. You need to learn about what it takes to "keep" bees. There a wide variety of management approaches to keeping bees. Many of the older approaches may NOT work today given the stressors that exist now: parasites and environmental challenges, being the biggest issues.

It doesn't harm your colonies to work with them. At least in the long run; in the short run your new beekeeper's lack of skill will be hard on them, but you will learn and they will survive. I took the attitude that in return for the costs (to the bees) of my skill-development, I owed them any additional boost I could offer.

And I note you are in Michigan. I am in upstate NY so we have similar winter challenges. Your bees are newly hived and they have a huge job ahead of them to drawn enough comb to store enough honey to just to survive until next Spring. They are a very late swarm for our climate's rigors. If you really want to help them get through the next nine months, you're going to have to step UP your management efforts, at least for the year. If you get them through, then next year - once you have some more experience under your belt - you can choose to dial back your interventions.

My advice isn't coming from years of beekeeping experience. It's coming from having started at a similar point that you are now and grappling with the reality of what it takes to successfully bring my bees through their first year under my care. Had I just "provided a habitat for them", I doubt I would be still be reading Beesource as they would have long ago perished and I would have given up on beekeeping.

enjambres
 

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To be sure, I was not advocating NOT doing any of the following if needed:
""While the bees are astoundingly hardy and rescourceful creatures, their odds of success have been enormously increased because I learned to feed them (when necessary, at various times and in various ways depending on the season), treat them for mites (when necessary), protected them from the winter's vicissitudes (very necessary during last year's unusually fierce Polar Vortex), manipulate their brood expansion (during the Spring to moderate their urge to swarm away) and in many other ways protect them from natural stressors: easy access to water on hot days; positioning of their hive to discourage predation from rodents and skunks; ground cover designed reduce SHB pupation near the hives; windbreaks and tie-downs during wind-emergencies, etc." quote from enjambres
What I will say is that you have to ask yourself, "Do I REALLY, REALLY need to do an inspection, or am I satisfying a curiosity?" Consider how much your actions will unbalance the inner workings of the hive before yanking off the roof just to have a "look".
 

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Houston, I do respect your point of view even though I see no support structure under it. No one asigned me to keeper of all knowledge, so I may be well off base and in error, however I am very interentionist in my approch to these creatures.

I started keeping bees 40 years ago and at that time was very non-interentionist, opening the hive 2 to 3 times a year to rob some honey or to try to impress one of my friends. Secondary to pest and diseast issues I fear those days are gone.

My approach today is to try to maximise the productivity of the hives, with the thought that the bees are really livestock, much like little chickens or cows. There is a component of afection involved and as such I have bee accused of treating them as pets.

I am in each hive on an almost weekly basis. Several times of the year I am away for 2 or so weeks, and I find that these "extended" periods of inatention are the most trouble prone for the bees. I firmly feal that they do better with frame by frame manipulation on a weekly basis.

Additionally, almost daily I just pull the cover off a hive or two, just for the joy of it. I'm not pulling your leg, I enjoy the hobby.
 

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Most of my beekeeping friends are more into management of the hives for maximum honey production. I suppose I fit into the 'beekeeping idealist' category. I'm more of a "hands off" beekeeper. I don't think we ought to be hanging mite strips in the hive to knockdown varroa mites because the mites will eventually build up a resistance. Besides, the mite strips kill other mites, ones that might be beneficial, like the stratiolailab scimitus (predatory mites) and can upset the natural ecology of the hive. For that reason, I chose to NOT treat my Warre hive which had varroa mites. I let it swarm which it did twice before May 10. After that the hive just sort of slooowed down. The number of bees kept declining and I figured it might have gone queenless. I was waiting for the robbing to take place in mid July, but it never did. In late August I started noticing bee activity picking up. I looked through the observation windows to see more bees. I'd like to think the bees figured out that by having a long brood break, that would disrupt the varroa cycle. The hive is made up of three boxes. For some reason, they won't work the empty combs on top yet. Not sure what's going on there, but the activity at the entrance has picked up dramatically. If I decided to feed these bees, like a dry sugar mix in a horizontal frame, should I put in under the box with the empty combs? Pictures and video here... http://solarbeez.com/2014/10/02/a-long-long-brood-break/
 

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Just curious as I'm very new to bee keeping. Won't the bees pretty much take care of them self's if you give them the room they need? I know various state laws require someone to inspect hives and such but my state does not so I don't see the benefit in bothering them to much.
Give it a try and let us know how it turns out.
 

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The best thing to do is to learn the bees. Learn the biology of each caste of bee, their duties throughout their lives. Learn the biology of the hive as a whole, with each bee being a working component of the larger whole hive. Learn the social and working structure of the whole. My advice is to get an observation hive setup and observe, and read, and ask questions. Any hive management should be having these items as part of the goal for going into the hive.
 

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I think inspecting a hive, depending on the time of year only sets them back about 1 day. During the honey flow this is a big loss. At other times it may not even be significant. Every two weeks may be too often to inspect. Two routine inspections a year should be sufficient if the outside of the hive monitoring is done and Other inspections can be done when there is a purpose.
 

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Although this thread is quite old, these forums tend to serve as research resources, so I'm going to throw my two cents in, as the Johnny-come-lately:

Keeping bees in order to help "save the bees", while noble, is not going to do much (unless you're letting a feral swarm continue to live in your trees instead of killing them). Spreading knowledge about what is killing the bees might help more. We're in a bit of a pickle these days: most people acquire their bees from packages bred in the south. These bees are genetically inferior to their ancestors, as they have devolved due to pampering by humans. Their wild tendencies have been eliminated in favor of easier managing. Their immune system has been compromised in favor of easier managing. Their gut flora has been thrown out of whack in favor of bigger honey harvests (i.e. feeding syrup to make up for taking too much honey). The last 100 years of industrialized bee farming are catching up with us now; add to that the ubiquity of government-sponsored chemical warfare against nature, government-sponsored monocultures, and the American obsession with manicured lawns. Perfect storm.

It would be great if we could put the bees in a box and then just collect honey whenever we want to make pancakes by turning a spigot. That's not the reality now. The reality is that we have to find a way to re-wild the bees. If we installed a package of Italian bees from Georgia into a hollow tree in Ohio and walked away, they would most certainly die (or abscond, then die). We have to begin to introduce practices that reduce the bee's reliance on humans, and breed for genetics that can survive as feral stock. It doesn't happen overnight though. It will take many years of breeding and *some* form of management for any beekeeper to get his/her bees to the point where they will thrive in a box without much management.

It would be similar to taking a rich kid from the city, dropping him in the woods, and expecting him to survive. He has never had to find his own food, prepare for winter, and fight off attackers.

Keeping animals and bugs in boxes is not natural. We are forcing them to live in spaces they might not choose to live in. My chickens live in a coop; I manage as minimally and as naturally as possible, but they are still in my box, and I am responsible for protecting them somehow, since I'm the one caging them up.

Michael Bush's statement about swarming is dead-on; while swarming is not so much a bad thing, there is a difference between growth expansion and "let's get the hell out of this tiny craphole that human put us in" swarming. The hive must expand and contract based on the bees needs in order to encourage them to stay.

All of that said, no, a lot of the management being done is not truly necessary. But that all depends on the beekeeper's goals. You should feed a new package, you should feed a starving hive, you should split or add space to a hive that wants to swarm, you should reduce the entrance in the fall, and so on. Some beekeepers, however, focus on the short-term and have that deep-burning American desire to intervene when they think the bees are doing it wrong: "OMG! There are some mites in the hive! Release the gas!" You might kill some mites in the short term, but in the long-run, you're going to make the bees dependent on your chemicals. That's a choice that is up to you and you alone.

In the end, if you want to keep bees in a box, you have to do what is necessary to keep them alive and encourage them to stay in that box. Choose the right kind of box, and manage based on that kind of box. The Warre hive was designed to not require a lot of management; it will not need nearly as much as a Langstroth or KTBH. It will need some though. I'm about as hands-off as they come, but I do have to say hello to them once in a while. I change out the quilt material. I give sugar if they'd die otherwise. I nadir the hive with new boxes, and when mother nature is good to us all, I harvest a box of honey from the top. I don't treat for disease though; rather, I make every attempt to create an environment that gives the bees a fighting chance.

As for disrupting the hive, yes, opening it is a disruption. Do you want the FBI busting into your house, rummaging through your drawers and rearranging furniture every other week? It would stress you out, and if you had the means, you'd likely move. If they were kind Feds, they'd leave you jars of sugar so you didn't have to feed yourself. So, you'd drink the sugar syrup instead of going out to work to purchase your own food. Sure, broccoli would be better, but this sugar is free, so why not?

Does opening the hive set it back two weeks? Probably not, if you're just opening it. Smoke will irritate them and stress them out. Rearranging hives will irritate them and stress the out. Destroying their drone brood will irritate them, stress them out, and they'll just work to build more. If it's cold, you'll chill the brood. If it's nectar flow, you'll disrupt their condensing operations. If you break their propolis seal, you may make them vulnerable to pest/disease.

What I'm trying to say is that for every action there is a reaction. Minimal intervention is my personal choice based on my personal beliefs and the goal of my operation. Every time I open the hive (or do any form of management) I consider the consequences of my actions and determine whether my intervention in the long run will benefit the bees.

Set your goals and learn how to achieve them using techniques that fit into your value system. If you want to manage frequently and treat, cool. If you want to manage rarely and not treat, cool. I've seen people achieve success both ways. I personally told myself years ago that if my bees could only survive if I provided them with a constant supply of sugar syrup and vaccinations, then I had no interest in being a beekeeper.
 
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