Category Archives: Thoughts and ideas….

Journaling about your hive

Journaling about your hives is a great way to take note of how the hive is doing and a good way to keep track of things that need to be done with the hive as well as a fun way to refer back to what the hive was like during different stages and over several years.

For me, I always think that I’ll remember everything that goes on with the hives but when I don’t journal about it, I sometimes forget those little important details about the hive and then 3 months down the road I notice the hive is doing exceptionally well or maybe they’re not doing as well as they were the year before, than I can refer back to the journal as to weather patterns, what the hive is doing, how the bees seem, what I did with the hive in the past year, etc. It definitely comes in handy and is very informational to be able to refer to each time when going into your hive/s.

I also like to take pictures of the hive through the window before and after going into the hive as another way of observing the bees and overall hive view. Hive journals definitely become very fun and interesting scrapbooks years down the road as well!

Here is a list of some things to include in you bee journal:

~Date bees where placed in the hive (or year of the hive)                                                             ~Overall temperament of the hive and where the bees came from: local swarm, package of bees, nuc, etc. (Include as much information as possible about where the bees came from including hive type and age of hive)
~Date of first pollen coming in and the source if known
~Date of first dandelions blooming

More things to keep in mind and journal about each time visiting your hive:

~ Date, weather, temperature, time of the day, overall mood of bees, clenliness of landing board, drone population and any other observations you notice.

~If opening the hive, it’s helpful to also include reason for opening hive and your observations while working the hive, what you accomplished or hoped to accomplish, note anything that needs to be done in the hive, prospective date and check it off when completed. Any observations about your hive or the local environment and weather.

~ It’s always fun to take before and after pictures as well as photos through the window at different times of year and stages of the hive.

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To use smoke or not to use smoke….

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I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about honeybees lately and it makes me wonder about when beekeepers use smoke and the effect it has on the entire hive. We top bar people have it really easy in the way that smoke isn’t at all necessary to use because only one or two combs are exposed at a time in the hive so we’re only aggravating about 1/8th of the bees in the hive at a time and as we file through to the next comb, the last one is closed with the previous one again. It’s a great system in so many ways and for me it’s easy to say “oh, smoke isn’t necessary!” “why stress them out more by causing a fake fire for them and wasting all of that energy they put forth to evacuate and gorge honey when it could be used for cleaning the hive, dealing with pests and collecting food?””Smoke messes up all of the hive’s pheromone sent and ways for communication… it’s hard to get the smell of smoke out of things after being around a campfire and so on… imagine how much smoke residue would be in a hive if it’s been smoked every week for even just one year!”

While I do agree completely with all of the reasons and questions I ask for not using smoke, maybe I’m missing some crucial point about why Langstroth hive users and especially commercial beekeepers tend to use smoke. It could be that the Langstroth hive is designed for speed and to work the hive by quickly being able to take out frames and both because of this and that taking off the lid exposes so much of the hive. Even the organic beekeepers who use langstroth hives use smoke! I wonder what the theory is behind it because it seems so unnatural and rude to just smoke the bees out so blatantly. It could be too that the smoker is a bit of an emblem for the beekeeper and as Corwin has mentioned, maybe we need a new one. Perhaps the artistic hive tool or a grass brush… Any ideas??

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