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How often do bees get squished? Does this incite a riot? Being new at this, and never having worked on a hive, I was wondering how difficult it is to not do to much damage to the girls? I'm taking a course in a couple of months but wanted to hear your thoughts on what to expect. I know that it's best to be careful but what's the reality? This group is a great source of information, and I want to thank everyone for their contributions and guidance.

Fat Nancy
 
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I've never had a riot over a few flattend bees. I always try to avoid it when you can but when pulling supers its hard to avoid. During a honey flow, they usually have enough to keep them busy.
It got up to 60 here in Indiana yesterday. Wow were my girls grumpy. I lifted all my hives to check for stores. You would have thought I was killing them all. Got out without a sting. My 2 cents worth. Todd Zeiner Clayton Indiana
 

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>How often do bees get squished?

Almost always.

>Does this incite a riot?

Almost never.

>Being new at this, and never having worked on a hive, I was wondering how difficult it is to not do to much damage to the girls?

It takes practice. When the bees are overflowing the sides and you're trying to set a box on top, you learn some tricks. First you can smoke some of them away before you pick it up to set it on. Second you can set it at an angle so only the four points that the two boxes touch can squish the bees then gently slide it around into place and the bees have a chance to get out of the way.

>I'm taking a course in a couple of months but wanted to hear your thoughts on what to expect. I know that it's best to be careful but what's the reality?

Reality is you be careful and you still squish some. But that is still far less than die everyday working themselves to death. Reality is the other bees seldom even notice that you squished some.
 

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Hi Nancy
Good question. I think the hardest thing for me was learning that it is inevitable that you are going to squish some. How many depends on lots of variables, many of which were described above.

When I first started last year I was so careful, I worked very slowly, and tried to protect every bee. When the inevitable happened I was upset. But then my bee inspector showed up. Up to that point I had gotten away from using gloves and a suit, and often not even a veil.

But the inspector started ripping off the supers and piling them up, putting the bees in an uproar. He, being a commercial beekeeper, had to work fast and in the process I learned that if you want to get anything done you really do have to move ahead sometimes.

So as Michael said, the best thing is to try to learn some simple tricks to limit the carnage. And the biggest is the one Michael described, where you return a super ****ed at an angle, then slide it square.

Depending on how many hives you have, you may be able to really work slowly and really limit the loss, but inevitably there will be a few...

david
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks Folks,

For filling in some of the small parts of the picture. I look forward to the day when I can feel confident enough to work with minimal gear. I work with Rats, Mice, Dogs and Primates now, and I'm hoping that I will develop a sense with bees, like I have with other animals. I'm really interested to experience thousands of bees working as one cohesive body. Fascinating! Thanks for helping

Fat Nancy
 
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> He, being a commercial beekeeper, had to
> work fast and in the process I learned that
> if you want to get anything done you really
> do have to move ahead sometimes.

What a poor example he set!

If you are going to out working hives all
day (as I do), you MUST pace yourself, and
resist the urge to "hurry". Every few years
I end up firing at least one part-time
teenager for his own good, because he
won't "get into the zen of it", and wants
to rush through hives. I try to fire them
before I have to take them to the doctor
with a case of heat prostration, and I
tell them that I would rather not have them
touching my hives if they are going to
bang the bees around so hard.

The bees really don't mind either way, and
on average, you are going to kill about
6 bees you DON'T know about every time you
do more than peek in the topmost super, so
all of this is simply "beekeeper safety".
Rule one is everyone comes home for dinner.

But many of these so-called "commerical"
clowns know little more than you do. They
just invested more money than you did, and
are fooling themselves into thinking that
they can meet the debt service on their
investment by working "faster".

Faster isn't better. Its just sloppier.

And after more than a decade, I still don't
own a bee suit, nor gloves. I buy them for everyone else, and just keep my veil handy.
 

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>I work with Rats, Mice, Dogs and Primates now, and I'm hoping that I will develop a sense with bees, like I have with other animals.

That is the idea. Every animal has that point at which they respond. With practice you can find that point that is as fast as you should move (which will be slowly) with the bees becase at that speed they go calmly about their business. If you exceed that speed they start responding defensively. You will know when you exceed that speed because of the change in the pitch of the hum and the bees that start coming out of the hive. Also there is the point at which they start getting excited when you are setting things down or popping something that is glued down. Whenever you hear a raise in pitch, wait a half a minute or so for them to calm back down.

I had the opposite experience with the inspector here. He wore shorts and short sleeves, no gloves and only a veil. He moved slowly and delibrately and not one bee tried to sting him, let alone succeeded. I was impressed.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the confirmation Michael, I was hoping to hear something of that nature but I wasn't sure having never worked with insects. Now I'm really excited! With the increase in hum, is there also an increase in speed of their movement? Is this a good time to smoke? or will they calm down if i give them 30 seconds or so?
 

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The man who taught me had smooth, relaxed movements. Now, he DID move fairly quickly, but nothing banged, and the bees were not upset.

He ALSO stopped a couple of times a hive to examine the frames.
 
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I'm pretty careful not to squish--but some get squished anyway. I try to slide the supers across and have even used a bee brush to move them out of the way.

But then, I talk to my bees, too.

------------------
Lesli St. Clair
 

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>With the increase in hum, is there also an increase in speed of their movement?

There's two things here. One is the hum of the hive. The other is the bees flying off of the combs. If they are flying off of the combs, you have excited them.

>Is this a good time to smoke?

When there is just an increase in the hum, I don't. When they start flying off the combs, I do.

> or will they calm down if i give them 30 seconds or so?

That also helps in most situations. As long as they ARE calming down. Sometimes when an alarm is being raised they are NOT calming down, but gearing up, and then it's usually time to close things up and come back later.
 

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Every hive I've opened would "increase their hum"
as a result of being smoked. In fact, this is
when you know that you have put enough smoke into
the entrance and under the inner cover.

One important point not mentioned in many books
is that one wants to "smoke", and then wait a bit.
The smoke itself is an irritant, but the intent is
to mask alarm pheromones. It takes some time for
the smoke to spread within the hive. If the bees
are busy fanning a crop, you will have one heck
of a time getting much smoke IN the entrance,
ditto if there is a good wind blowing. Keep at
it, the louder buzz is a good sign that you have
smoked "enough".

If you pay attention to sounds, and are in a quiet
area, you can hear a "Kamakaz-bee" flying at
a higher airspeed just seconds before she slams
face-first into your forehead or veil. This is
an easy message to translate - "back off, or be stung".

What is called for is more smoke at the entrance,
as it is my opinion that these Kamakaz-bees are
guards. I have no proof of this, but someday
I will take a hive, mark all the guards with
blue chalk, and try and see. Its hard to get a
good look at a bee that flies straight at you.

I'm not really worried about bees flying off
the comb, these are mostly house bees, and will
not be as defensive as the guards. Some folks
find it easier to pull a frame, and shake all
(or most) of the bees off before they do anything
else, shaking the frame over the top bars of
the hive, so that the bees retreat down into the
hive.

One very old trick is to use a pair of "hive
cloths" to cover all the top bars except the
one of current interest. This keeps nearly
100% of the bees "in the dark", and unable to
harass you. I use 'em on hives that are "grouchy"
and in need of requeening, and I provide them
in very apiary kit for every hired hand.
 
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