How much can you read without opening up the hive?

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BeeKeyPlayer

From Rainham, Medway (North Kent) UK
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Location
Rainham, Medway (North Kent) UK
Hive Type
National
Number of Hives
24 plus 12 owned by others
I would like to be able to read a colony better before I open up a hive. It has that feel of long experience of observing bees. The little booklet by H. Storch is sometimes held up as the ultimate goal in this area. However, Ken Basterfield dismisses it as a work of imagination and wishful thinking.

I've seen people really stuck for words (on one occasion in a very public setting) when asked what exactly they can hope to glean from time spent at the hives before opening. Rusty Burlew has written what I think is a poetic, evocative and realistic account of what you can know and discover before you take the roof off.

'Most of the time you can tell everything you need know by standing near your hive and watching. You know a lot by how the colony behaves, the way it sounds, the way it smells, and the number and type of bees that come and go. You can tell even more by watching what they bring in, observing what they haul out, and assessing their temperament. If you walk by your hive on a summer’s evening and it purrs like an insulated engine room, smells like heaven, and the landing board is clean, why on earth would you open it up and disturb everything? It doesn’t make sense.

'On the other hand, if the number of bees is decreasing, you see dead bees or pupae unattended on the landing board, you detect an odd odor, or your bees are unseasonably temperamental, open the hive. If you see robbers, predators, or leaking honey, open the hive. If you see lethargic, aimless, or deformed bees, open it up.

'Compare what you see on the outside to what you find on the inside until you develop an intuition. It will happen sooner than you think. And in any case, use common sense. No animal wants its home torn apart for no good reason. So before you do it, have a clear idea of what your good reason is.'


See: Is too much hive inspection a bad thing?
 
Good indication if it is queen-right
Disease
Hygiene level
Vigour level can indicate starvation
Drone layers

It's not just looking at entrance. Examine floor debris and ejecta. Flying patterns. Heft the hive. Bodies. Listen to the noises. And it's not about never opening the hive - it's about knowing when it's necessary.

I welcome swarms, so I don't routinely open the hive to kill queen cells etc. This complements non invasive inspections.
 
Just had a look at that website, at one point they state
"The fabric of the building requires removing to gain access to the combs (the comb is protected by law) and bees."
Not a law I've ever heard of!!
 
Just had a look at that website, at one point they state
"The fabric of the building requires removing to gain access to the combs (the comb is protected by law) and bees."
Not a law I've ever heard of!!
I know, the whole site is designed to justify the prices they charge.
It's a very useful site as I normally give a link to it when I'm asked to remove bees from a building. Its amazing how many accept my slightly lower price. :giggle:
 
I'm not so sure your neighbours do when your bees take up residence in their chimney or beneath their tiles!
It can cost thousands to get them out!

https://beegone.co.uk/why-is-bee-removal-so-expensive/
I've never had one of my swarms go in a chimney, but I've seen a few. Last year I got called to 2 such swarms. The trick is to use the smell of Dettol - not the weak hand pump surface spray, but the bottle. I have one permanently in my swarm kit now. Put it on a rag or something which you stuff up the chimney. It's like magic, they all go. One householder had been bracing themselves for a mega-bill when a contractor said "of course scaffolding will be needed..." - the Dettol costs a few quid and can be used many times.

Whether it works on an established nest I don't know, I'm talking about swarms that have entered in the last few hours.

I hope this doesn't cause a mysterious nationwide shortage of Dettol as you all waddle to the shops.
 
It depends totally, what time it is in the in the summer.

And entrance depends what time it is of the the day and is it sunny and clowdy day..

I follow the entrances how vigorous is ventilation.

Only way is to inspect the hives is to open them and look free space, amount of bees and queen cells. You cannot see these things from entrance.
 
Ive seen quite a few in ceilings where the bees have gone in through a vent.
I think Neil's "chimney" covers quite a few places in a house where bees set up home
:iagree: just leaving your colonies swarm willy nilly without any attempt at control, unless the apiary is miles from any building is just plain antisocial

and back to the OP - let's not forget the myth that bees bringing pollen in means a queenright colony
 
I've never had one of my swarms go in a chimney, but I've seen a few. Last year I got called to 2 such swarms. The trick is to use the smell of Dettol - not the weak hand pump surface spray, but the bottle. I have one permanently in my swarm kit now. Put it on a rag or something which you stuff up the chimney. It's like magic, they all go. One householder had been bracing themselves for a mega-bill when a contractor said "of course scaffolding will be needed..." - the Dettol costs a few quid and can be used many times.

Whether it works on an established nest I don't know, I'm talking about swarms that have entered in the last few hours.

I hope this doesn't cause a mysterious nationwide shortage of Dettol as you all waddle to the shops.
Bees will build comb quickly, what do you do with that? Leave it up the chimney until they light a fire?
 
Bees will build comb quickly, what do you do with that? Leave it up the chimney until they light a fire?
You could cover the entrance with queen excluder - that way a new swarm won't re-occupy it, but bees can rob it out and waxmoth can get to the combs.
 
I think most that perform swarm prevention in all its variants siy a breath when colony’s take down cells sometimes swarm season even just stops like a tap, but leaving them ?what about all that loss on whatever scale.
 
OOps sorry posted twice.This link was posten on here quite a long timw back.
 

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