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Observing Your Bees

Observing the entrance of your bee hive is an important part of how to tell whats going on in your hive. For example if you are watching a lot of bees returning to your hive with loads of pollen on thier legs this is a good indication that there is plenty of forage and your bees are doing well. If you are observing a lot of bees going into the hive with out pollen on thier legs this could be an sign of robbing. Meaning your hive is having the honey taken out of it by another hive in the area. Not seeing pollen coming back could also mean there is not enough forage for your bees and feeding with sugar water and or pollen patties may be needed to help keep your hive healthy. 

Using the entrance reducer properly is done by observing the bee traffic in and out of the hive. New hives are started with the 3/4" opening this is only then increased when the hive has produced sufficient numbers to defend a larger entrance. This is true for hives that have survived the winter the entrances were reduced to the 3/4" opening in the fall. By paying attention to what your bee traffic will allow you to add or decrease the size of the entrance. In a wild hive the bees will decrease or increase the size of their entrance with propolis or wax. The hive opening needs to change with the conditions in the hive with fewer bees in the early spring the bees need a small entrance so that they can defend the entrance with fewer bees. As a beekeeper attending your hive you are saving the bees that work by increasing or decreasing the entrance. Here is an example.
300 Spartans held off a small opening in a road for seven days against 100 to one odds. Bees defending an entrance is the same as the Spartans tactic a hive with few bees can defend a small entrance. A hive with few bees and a large entrance can be quickly overcome by another bee colony looking for easy forage.

Bearding outside the hive this is most commonly observed in the summer. Large numbers of bees move to the outside of the hive to keep cool. This is a normal activity for bees but does alarm beekeepers when they first see this. If it is in the hot summer and you observe this you can prop up your top cover with a spare entrance reducer to help with ventilation in the hive. This will create draft and help remove the moisture from the honey, the bees will not cap the honey until it is at the proper moisture content has been reached at about 18%. 

 Bees bearding in large numbers outside the hive in the spring may indicate thier are getting ready to swarm. In this case look for large numbers of drones around the cluster of bees.

Springtime this is the time of year when your bees want propagate or swarm to start a new colony. The bee colony winter over with no drones in the hives. When you start to see drones around the entrance of the hive this in an indication the hive is healthy and could be preparing to swarm. Spring is when a beekeeper will split a healthy hive or make a nuc box.


More photos and information is coming


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