Is there such thing as attending to the hive too often?
In my excitement, I am afraid of visiting the hive too often. Is there a problem with that? How often would be too often? May be I need another hive already…
Welcome to the forum. It’s a great forum where you will get some great advice and encouragement.
To answer your question… yes you can over inspect your hive and I believe every time you do a full inspection it sets the colony back by at least 3 days.
However, and this is a big HOWEVER. I also believe it is vital for a new beekeeper to get into hives regularly to familiarise yourself with the workings and behaviours of the bees.
Regular inspections in the first year will set the bees back a little, but the benefits to you the new keeper far outweigh the set backs.
I also think it’s great to get a mentor to help you on your journey. Your mentor will more than likely be happy for you to inspect his or her hives with them giving your hive a “week off”.
When you get to know your bees a monthly inspection is ample and a little bit more often in spring and early summer.
There should always be a reason to inspect otherwise leave them to do what they do best. (In your case learning is the reason).
To answer your last question. I definitely think a second hive is a great idea. It helps to compare how the two hives are tracking, and it can be a life saver to be able to swap resources from a strong hive into a struggling one.
Hi Marcus, ditto to everything Tim said.
One thing to consider is that every time we do an inspection, as far as the bees are concerned we are raiding their hive, as a predator would. This stresses & alarms the colony which triggers them into gorging on honey, even without smoke. Therefore, during an inspection, there is always a risk that the bees can ball & kill the queen while the colony is stressed. I’ve seen this before my very eyes. I’ve witnessed about 6 ballings, enough to make me realize that it must happen more frequently, than we would anticipate. Therefore I’m always mindful that it can happen.
Having said that, a second hive is always good to have just in case that happens & the colony is unsuccessful in producing a new viable queen.
Epic tips, Tim!
Hi @JeffH - I’m interested to learn more about balling. Is this accidental by the colony? And what does the actual term mean?
Good morning Tim
Thank you very much for your input
Interesting point is the fact that you set back the colony three days with each inspection. I have been inspecting them more than once a month but it is never a full inspection, I pick up 2 or 3 frames in the brood box every time I open it. I guess the important thing is how many times I open the hive, not how much I do with it.
This colony looks strong now and doesn’t seem to be bothered with my disturbances. The brood box is full and even the outer frames are full of honey. I am a bit concerned about the amount of pollen I see. The bees seem to bring more pollen in the afternoons (maybe it has to do with the flower cycle???) but I don’t know for sure if it is going to be enough for the colony for the whole winter.
For some reason, the bees took a long time to colonise the honey box (even though I smeared the frames with wax) and now I notice there are many more bees in the brood box than in the flow box, which is about half full. Are they having trouble going through the excluder?. This may make them feel crowded in the bottom box and prompt them to swarm? There is a “packing down for winter field day” at the beekeeping association next month and I am writing down all these questions but the more information I get the better decisions I can make. So please feel free to comment (you and others)
… “the best way to protect knowledge is sharing it”… so, thank you for protecting your knowledge.
Hi Bianca, I did a little bit of reading about it. However I’m not a 100% sure if the bees do it to actually kill the queen or whether they form a ball around her to protect her, which accidentally kills her. The second time I saw one, I remember thinking how perfectly round it was. I was able to break that one up, allowing the queen to escape, which possibly saved her life. The first time we saw one was while filming this video:
After watching the video again, it was obvious that the bees purposely killed her.
This must be the video @Dawn_SD refers to in relation to Wilma calling a bee “a little mongrel”.
PS, there’s a lot of online reading available on the subject of “balling a queen bee”
A simple look in the top won’t bother them as much as pulling frames out however heading closer to winter they will start to propolise the lid down to stop drafts so each time you open it they need to start again.
By this do you mean that you are concerned they don’t have enough pollen? or you think they are storing too much?
There will be more bees in the bottom box as that is where the priorities lie for them. The super is only there for them to store excess honey.
I highly doubt that they are having trouble fitting through the QX.
Funny story… I bought a box of plastic QXs and couldn’t work out why there never seemed to be any bees up top when the bottom box was chocked full. I eventually realised they couldn’t fit. I set about drilling out all the gaps in the QXs (took about 30min per QX) but gave up after doing 5. I threw the rest away in disgust. I have since given up on all my plastic excluders and gone to metal ones.
If the QX is a Flow one it shouldn’t be a problem.
Workers bees amass the queen and form a ball, trapping her. Then they sting her to death.
Very common during supercedure.
One of my hives last year I witnessed the bees killing and literally pulling the old queen apart.
No cells and no eggs so I replaced the queen. The Hive seemed to accept her in the queen cage but next inspection to see if they had released her (they had).
After pulling a frame I saw a ball of bees rolling around the floor of the Hive and the queen inside being killed.
7 new supercedure cells 4 capped.
Left two in that Hive and did a split into a Nuc with the other 2 cells.
Nuc exploded with life several weeks later and now a full 10 frame overwintered Hive and the other has overwintered successfully to.
Thanks for sharing the video, Jeff. It’s nice to put a face to the name here too
So it’s still a bit of a mystery for what happens and why a colony ‘balls’ the queen. Thanks for introducing me to this though, I will also have a read of the resources available online.
Nice trick with adding the frame of brood to the open hive, I love that. It worked a treat.
Hi & thank you Bianca. I always use a frame of mostly open brood when catching swarms. A frame of brood is a good way of locating a queen because she will be drawn to it in the majority of cases. Then once you have the queen on the frame of brood, the rest will follow. I never look on the brood frame for the queen. I put the brood frame in the box, then see what happens. Other bees will march in if she’s there, or the bees will exit the box if she’s not. If that happens, I repeat the process & wait a little longer than the first time. That only happened once.
I have another video where we used a similar strategy. I shared this video on the forum previously.
Amazing. Great trick that Jeff
I’m about to begin on my bee keeping adventure - my bees should be with me in about a month and these tips are really helpful. I’ve read that it is advisable to be checking the hive on a weekly basis to prevent swarming, would you disagree with this advice?
Depends on what you are starting off with… nuc, package or established hive.
Unless your hive is near capacity I don’t think it necessary to be checking any more regularly than every 2-3 weeks.
Even with a fully established hive in the height of swarm season you should be able to pick up on pre swarming behaviours by carrying out 10 to 14 day inspections.
I agree with Tim but would like to add that checking and inspecting are different processes, as in, I check my colony’s almost daily but only inspect occasionally.
It seems to be common practice to inspect frequently when beginning the beekeeping journey which has its positives and negatives.
Lenny of other things to get your head around before you need to worry about swarming though.
Thank you that helps. Yes, can’t wait for the bees to arrive now and to begin putting some of the learning into practice
Thank you Tim for the information!
Can anyone tell me the best place to buy a flowhive in Donegal Ireland?
Hello and welcome to the Flow forum!
Your best place to buy a Flow hive will be direct from the shop on the honeyflow.com web site. It will probably ship from the EU (Netherlands) and not from Australia, as they have a distribution hub there. Just ask if you have any more questions.