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What I did while the hazelnuts are flowring – the first scheduled procedure of the year. My attempt at a “Show and Tell”-style post.

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What I did while the hazelnuts are flowring – the first scheduled procedure of the year. My attempt at a “Show and Tell”-style post.

I enjoy this Sub, but what I miss are introductions of and discussions about systems, methods of operation and the “Show and Tell”-style posts.

The best way to start something is to do something and if my gibbering sparks interest maybe I’ll write another one.

Please whenever I butcher the English language, don’t hesitate to correct me.

We use Dadant US hives and dividers to adjust the box to the brood. We keep and breed Buckfast Bees on 4.9mm cells, I’ll add the setup as a picture and comment on it below.

A few weeks ago I finished our first scheduled procedure of the year, as a preface all is well.

We only worked our hives at 500m altitude, the nature at 800m is not ready jet and the Hives at 1100 are still buried in snow.

I had to transplant a frame with fodder, one hive may be queenless but that’s OK. I’ll inspect it in depth when the pussy willow flowers and if the need arises I’ll requeen it with a Threeframer from last season.

My topbarhive is lost to the mites, as expected. It’s my first topbarhive and as my normal treatment is not feasible in a TBH I tried another method and it did not work.

Each year when the hazelnutbushes are in full flower and the temperature is above 8°C with no wind and some sunshine we do the winter revision:

  1. Looking at the Hive entrances and the diagnosis boards

Checking the feces for signs of Nosemosis, Amoebic dysentery or congestion resulting from a lack of water. Looking inside through the entrance to check for bees or a blockage.

As I use a bottom insulation thus I can only see the scraps from the inner fodderframe, I take a note where the scraps are (like 1/3 of the way).

  1. Weighing the Hives

I pull back my hives on their stands, until the front edge of the hive rests on the middle of the cross beam. Remove the stones and outer lids and I weigh the hives using a meat hook and a luggage scale at the backside of the hive.

At each apiary I have one Hive on a scale and I take note of those too.

  1. Peek inside

I remove the inner lid to have a peek through the clear plastic cover sheet.

I take note of the temperature and condensate as those are a good indicators for brood.

If the bees are scattered and the cluster is atypical I’ll take a note as it is an indicator for a queenless hive.

To estimate colony strength I check how many honeycomb alleys are full of bees. The other signs how strong the colony is (flight, buzzing, bees hanging from the underside of the frames) are just summarized with a plus if the hive displays them.

  1. Listen

The ones I have not yet disturbed enough get a good throb and I listen to the intensity and length of the buzzing. I want to hear a loud buzz calming down quickly, an extended buss is a sign for queenless hive.

  1. “Math”

Dividing the weight by the full rows shows me the fodder per population ratio.

  1. Open some Hives.

On each apiary I open the one Hive with the least fodder per population and thumb through every frame quickly to check for fodder. If I need to add a frame I’ll open the next one too.

Every hive I am going to use for this years breeding line is inspected more thoroughly I pull each frame and note down the eights. Eg: 2/8 covered in bees, 4/8 fodder, 1/8 brood.

If needed I reduce the number of frames between the insulated dividers down to 3, removing frames without brood.

Sometimes I have to rotate a fodderframe to keep the fodder closer to the bee cluster.

This is a good opportunity to have the Vet come along and do the random sampling needed for the TRACES Certificate.

  1. Documentation

Write everything down and adjust the breeding plan if necessary. If there were signs for queenlessness I’ll check upon when the pussy willow is in full flower.

If I had to do something, turn around frames or whatever I’ll have to meditate about the worth of the breeding line.

The goal is a healthy hive with a late brood start and a broodless winterperiod. It should go into the winter strong and should only loose a minimum amount of bees over the winter, while it should just use a minimum amount of fodder.

  1. Next steps

When the Pussywillows are in full flower, I’ll adjust the broodnest if necessary, reposition the drone frame and the insulating foil, adding the queenexcluder and the first supers.

When the Prunus Kriechen is in full flower, again I’ll adjust the broodnest if necessary, put the Drone Frame in its final position, rotate the insulating foil by 90° giving a better access to the supers.

At the start of the Rapeflowering, the broodnest is adjusted, the insulation foil, all remaining Frames with fodder and the hive entrance reducer are removed.

Most of the things I do are the same each year, do you have similar procedures in your apiary?


We keep our bees Dadant US hives (just one box in the winter, a cut of a typical setup: https://lensdump.com/i/rvRXQi) on wax foundations from our own cappings, with 4.9mm cells on 2.5cm wide frames. Our wax is tested and free of agri- and apicultural residues.

The drone frame is foundationless and 3.5cm wide, we are using 7mm mushroom-headed pins as spacers and are left nailers.

We use dividers to adjust the box to the brood, a normal hive has about three broodnest frames in winter and five in summer.

A wooden divider is used to seal the frames off to the empty space and two 2cm wide insulated insulated dividers flanking the broodnest. All frames with brood are always between the two dividers.

The normal configuration in the winter is: 1 frame fodder, insulated divider, 2-3 Frames with fodder having contained the last brood of the last year, insulated divider, 3-5 Frames fodder and a drawn out drone frame with fodder (I do not want to call it trap frames, as we do not cut them).

On the frames between the insulated dividers is a aluminized piece of three layered bubblewrap at the bottom is an insulated blindfloor.

Our hives are painted dark brown and in winter the hives are wrapped in aluminized covers to keep the sun from warming them too rapidly.

The main bee cluster sits between the insulated Dividers but it extends around them.

submitted by /u/Phonochrome
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