I need to learn how to be more efficient

Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum

Help Support Beekeeping & Apiculture Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

BeeKeyPlayer

From Rainham, Medway (North Kent) UK
***
BeeKeeping Supporter
Joined
Nov 9, 2018
Messages
825
Reaction score
737
Location
Rainham, Medway (North Kent) UK
Hive Type
National
Number of Hives
24 plus 12 owned by others
I inherited the care of around 20 colonies last season which nearly tripled the number of hives I look after. I've survived (no more) both seasons but I'm not proud of the time and effort involved. I hear of people with full-time jobs, a family of teenagers, and dozens of colonies to manage. I don't know how they do it.

Any advice or pointers on how to be more efficient? Many thanks if you can make suggestions.
 
Keep inspection time short. Lift just a couple of frames. Double brood is good in that you simply need to tip the top box forward to spot queen cells. Then go through the box. You’ll miss some but don’t we all anyway ?
 
Keep inspection time short. Lift just a couple of frames. Double brood is good in that you simply need to tip the top box forward to spot queen cells. Then go through the box. You’ll miss some but don’t we all anyway ?
i have been short of time this year and in height of summer, kept some weekly inspections to tipping upper brood box only and recorded the inspection as such...so i knew another week it may need a fuller inspection

demaree has helped massively too

and Dani's tip ie to have a couple of preferred actions for certain circumstances that you then enact, rather than puzzling through each time, helps too e.g. swarm control, demaree to prevent and nuc q for reactive etc

all helps
 
Get less swarmy bees is the first thing.
Change Queens every two years.

The above will not stop swarming but reduce it
If in doubt nuc it: no time? Hive nearly full just do it before going on holiday.

No inspections after June
Extract over months: spring honey early summer honey etc. Spreads the load.

Dummy board in each hive speeds up inspections. Take it out, lots of space/



Don't put one super on a hive, put several.

Think a plan out before so you know what, why and what tools you need.

As I am elderly, lazy, prone to back problems with dodgy eyesight I refuse to do more work than absolutely essential.
 
Take notes of kit/needs etc of each hive. not war 'n peace......... notes!!!
check only centre 5 frames
watch out for honey bridge
carry some spare kit with you
make a plan
 
Place your out apiaries strategically. I have one a stone throw away from home which allows me to inspect over lunchtime on a working day. The other 2 are 20min away but close to eachother, I need 2.5h to do these.
I keep spare kit at all apiaries, clip my queens (started this year), carry a note book so I know what needs to be done for each hive at next inspection.
Does it all make a difference? Does it ***! I seem to have been running like a headless chicken all summer. If my F/T job wasn't from home I would really struggle managing the 24 hives but as it stands I still manage to keep my weekends free.
 
Working from home certainly helps I have to agree. I haven't increased my numbers but easily could rather, I've focused on consolidating and improving my skills.
 
Do you actually need that many colonies would be the first thing I would ask
No, but do I NEED to see a beautiful sunset? I have greatly benefited from the opportunity to handle so many different colonies, and I'm happy to spend my time that way - up to a point.

I didn't seek this number of colonies but, having asked the landowner if I could site hives on his land (a wonderful and idyllic) place, I found that he already had many hives there, all untended. My offer to help with their management was misunderstood. He thought I was offering to take them over, and I found it difficult to backtrack.

But I am very grateful to be able to keep my bees there, as well as having the place for my family and grandchildren to roam, and I think I'll be able to cut down on the level of management next season. Certainly, I'm a bit more clued up now on how to manage the job in less time.

Thank you all.
 
I found that he already had many hives there, all untended.
Were they completely untended? I’d be interested to know what you found when you opened them up…were they largely doing ok or had many died out or were struggling?
 
Were they completely untended? I’d be interested to know what you found when you opened them up…were they largely doing ok or had many died out or were struggling?
They hadn't been opened since before the previous season. Mostly they were fine, chock-a-block with honey, and only one had the bought queen still in situ (in her third season). There had been lots of swarming and some colonies were swarms from the original hives.
 
What’s that?
I'm wondering too.
A honey bridge is an arc of honey across the top of brood combs, over which the queen is reluctant to go, thereby confining her to the space below. This may congest the nest sufficiently to flick the swarm switch.

Similarly, a full super above a brood nest acts as a good queen excluder.

If upgrading from single BB to DBB or more, crush the honey bridge on the combs in the lower box to persuade bees to move the honey upstairs into the supers, which will in turn give the queen a better opportunity to use both boxes, and avoid congestion.
 
Last edited:
I am going on for 70 and still working full time but I have managed up to 24 colonies the past few summers. All on brood and a half commercials, I only spend an hour a week between April and July tipping the top box to check for queencells. I make splits from my fastest growing colonies in spring to make sure that I can replace half of my queens every year.That and timely supering means that I have had no swarming for many years now. The only time that I spend considerably more time is late August for harvest ,feeding, varroa treatment etc.
 
Not the most practical suggestion maybe, but the thing that massively improved my beekeeping was spending a year and a half working full time for a very large and well established Beefarmer tending 1000s of colonies. The main things I took away from my time there:
- was cutting out the niff naff and faff that as a hobbyist I was doing. Every time you visit the hive you need to have a purpose. Go with that purpose in mind and focus on it.
-Have the correct kit to hand at the time, no good to go and do an inspection and to have to come back another time.
-Simplify and standardise your kit. This includes your hives and your tools and gizmos. Most hobby beekeepers seem to have a huge box of gizmos and gadgets that are not needed. Likewise with hives have them all of the same type and interchangeable. having only one size of box can be even more efficent, if it fits with your way of working. Kit that is multipurpose, such as crown boards that that double as split boards, saves carting extra kit around at busy periods.
 
If you have a smart phone you can easily dictate your notes and check them for typo's / errors etc straight after the inspections. I use an iPhone, place it nearby on the roof of the hive next to the one i'm inspecting, "Hey Siri" "Add note"- Hive 3, then describe what you have seen. it types it out into a note that you can either copy into your record sheet or keep.

I now use a continuous note with dates / times instead of filling in inspection sheets, but it has all the information on that I would put on a excel or paper note.

You can also learn alot about your hives condition by just having a cup of tea and watching them come and go. I took the honey off early August, added Apivar at the same time, added rapid feeders in mid september and not inspected again since yesterday to finally check if they will be ok for winter and take off the Apivar. From March first check, if I see drones or drone cells I will start a weekly inspection until mid June early July, then its wind down time.
 
Don't run more than you are comfortable with, it's not your livelihood and must not impact on that or family. #1

Simplify. As said same boxes, kit that works for you not against you. Entrances for instance that are 8mm so no mouse guards and so on.

Have spare kit on site no use miles away.

Minimise journeys. PLan your work.

Decide whether to sell bulk or shops. I suggest mainly bulk to start off.

Keep very brief notes on the hive. No use forgetting the phone. If you use a short hand system, pm me if you want more on this, the info you NEED is THERE not on a spreadsheet elsewhere.

Sorry but the tipping double broods is FAR from fool proof to see cells.

Been there. good luck

PH
 
Back
Top