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Questions about handling a frame full of bees


#1

In an attempt to prepare myself for my bees arriving, I was watching this video…

A few things came to mind while watching the video:

  • Am I going to freak out and drop the frame?
  • He is not wearing gloves, that must make it much easier to carefully handle the frame, but, more likely that a newbie will freak out. Should I wear gloves, or would gloves make me too clumsy? Or should I not wear gloves and risk making a rookie mistake and dropping the frame because I was overly worried about being stung?
  • It looks like there are a hundred bees where he placed his hands to hold the frame. How was he able to avoid crushing some bees? Do they naturally move out of the way as long as your movements are relatively slow?
  • In the video he flips the frame over for inspection, isn’t he worried about the frame slipping out of his hands? It doesn’t look like he has that good of a hold on the frame.

Can some of the experience beeks give me their feedback on these concerns, comments, and questions?

thanks,
Lorne


#2

You are going to be a great beekeeper if you are already so worried about doing the right thing for your bees! :smile:

You may freak out, but you may not! I would suggest doing everything possible to make sure you are calm. I would suggest full protective gear for your first time - you don’t want a bunch of stings to freak you out. Make sure the weather is good (warm, sunny, not too windy) and that you have plenty of time and daylight. If you can get a beekeeping friend or club member to help you, so much the better. If you drop a frame, it usually isn’t a disaster, just don’t step on the queen if she was on that frame. If you are really worried about that, you can put an old sheet on the ground, then if you drop the frame, you can at least see the queen (and other bees) and you can shake her off the sheet into the hive. I don’t ever recall dropping a frame. I have lost grip of one end, but it isn’t hard to just keep hold of the other end. Yes, the bees don’t like being jerked around, but it isn’t the end of the world.[quote=“lhengst, post:1, topic:5196”]
He is not wearing gloves
[/quote]
I always wear gloves, especially with new bees. When they have just been transported, they can be quite cranky. I also think it is better for new beekeepers to wear gloves to start with.

It is very likely that you will crush some bees, I often accidentally kill a few. However, as you say, you can minimize that by moving very slowly (like Tai Chi) and taking your time.

You will learn about handling frames over time. You have to get proficient at turning them to do a proper inspection. It is all a question of confidence and experience, with time, you can build those up.

I remember many years ago I was learning to drive, and I wondered how anyone could do it so easily, and even talk at the same time. It seemed so hard. Now it is second nature. Beekeeping is a bit like that. Keep trying and practicing, you will get there. Bees are generally very forgiving, and they can do well despite us! :blush:


#3

Can you not join a beekeeping club where you can practice on the club bees under supervision?


#4

I can. I plan on attending my first meeting next month. But… my bees arrive March 23rd, so, I won’t have much time to network and practice between now and then. I am hoping I can find someone at the meeting who is willing to come over to my house the day I install the nuc. And, maybe that same person will let me do an inspection of one of his hives before March 23rd.


#5

Wonderful. I’m sure somebody will help you along. It’s one of those things that is so difficult to get your head round just watching a video.


#6

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#7

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#8

Hi Lorne

I will try to answer as a newbee who has just had his bees 3 weeks.

  1. You will freak out. No question. However freaking will work in your favour …You will not drop the frame.
  2. Wear gloves to start with as you need not to be worried about getting stung and start to relax. I think the trick is to wear very snug kid gloves. I personally don’t like gloves for the same reason as you, and I have dispensed with them except when I am going to be in the hive for a period of time.
  3. This still worries me. Every frame always has bees all over it and while other say just move your hand gently brushing them and they will move. My bees seem very obstinate and don’t just move out of the way they are more inclined just to back up over my hand. Experience is the key here and at the moment I don’t have that. I want to be able to"read" the bees and this takes time.
  4. I think all newbees can attest to surprise at the weight of a frame of brood or honey. It is heavy and you don’t have much to hang onto. I am a senior and not as nimble and dexterous as I once was but that is life and I find handling frames quite difficult.
    I have just spent time trying to find the posts to one of my threads where the different techniques of turning frames make it easy. Diagrams and all but it isin this forum somewhere Grrrr.

Anyway Lorne your fears are just the same fears as most newbees. You just have to get in there.


#9

@busso, thanks for the detailed reply. Your answers were reassuring. Many times during my bee classes and when watching youtube videos, I think… “This person (the instructor) is on autopilot and moving so fast, I bet what they are doing isn’t easy at first but they have forgotten what it is like to be new to beekeeping”

I’d be interested in reading about your experiences installing bees into your hive.

thanks,
Lorne


#10

Am I going to freak out and drop the frame?

Probably not.

He is not wearing gloves, that must make it much easier to carefully handle the frame, but, more likely that a newbie will freak out. Should I wear gloves, or would gloves make me too clumsy?

I’ve been doing this 42 years. I wear gloves 95% of the time.

Or should I not wear gloves and risk making a rookie mistake and dropping the frame because I was overly worried about being stung?

Probably you won’t drop it because you are afraid of getting stung, but the first time you get stung while holding a frame you may drop it by reflex. It won’t be the end of the world. I stepped in a gopher hole once and dropped the entire brood box so hard it broke to peices… they lived… I was glad I was wearing a jacket with a zip on veil and gloves…

It looks like there are a hundred bees where he placed his hands to hold the frame. How was he able to avoid crushing some bees? Do they naturally move out of the way as long as your movements are relatively slow?

Yes, if you move slow they usually get out of the way and if they don’t you don’t keep pushing on them…

In the video he flips the frame over for inspection, isn’t he worried about the frame slipping out of his hands?

I’m not him. I don’t know, but that’s not what I’m thinking of…

It doesn’t look like he has that good of a hold on the frame.

A brood frame is very light. Part of the reason for such a careful but not firm grip is you are trying not to squish bees so you are using a very light touch.


#11

Thanks for the help!

This evil part of me wishes I could watch that happen. I’d probably still be laughing. I’m glad the hive lived.