2011 Sourwood Honey Flow

and the History of HiveTool

The initial idea came from Dr. Seeley's book Honeybee Democracy. More ideas and encouragement came from Dr. Wayne Esaias and the Honey Bee Net at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and from Bob Bennie at Blue Ridge Honey Company.

July 2011

Over the 4th of July vacation I was able to read Dr. Seeley's book Honeybee Democracy, wherein he mentions that he had placed a hive on a platform scale, measuring their food reserve, to predict their survivability over winter. I had an old Detecto balance that I had bought at an auction for a few dollars and wondered if I could measure the sourwood flow.

On June 11th, about 2 weeks into the sourwood flow, a hive consisting of two 10-frame deep supers, two mediums with 8 frames and one shallow with 8 frames was disassembled and reassembled on the scale.

The weight of each super was recorded. The hive weighed 238 lbs. The shallow weighs about 10 lbs dry and the mediums weigh about 14 lbs dry.

During the next three weeks the hive weight was recorded and graphed using OpenOffice Calc. During the first week, every reading was higher than the previous. The hive reached a peak weight of 288 lbs.

This shows the delta (change) for each day.

Unfortunately, my schedule prevented me from recording the detailed weight changes during the day. Even on days when I could arive early and take measurements all day, I didn't see what I expected: The loss of weight when the foragers left in the moring and the loss of weight due to evaperation of water from the nectar.

Dr. Wayne Esaias of the Honey Bee Net at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center kindly sent this final graph. When I saw it I knew I had to have an electronic scale! And thus began HiveTool.

Where did the honey go?

On July 10th, 2011, when the hive was first placed on the scale, the hive weighed 238 lbs. On July 31st, 2011, the hive weighed 280.5 lbs, for a gain of 42.5 lbs. 35% of the gain went into the top, shallow super. 32% (18% + 14%) went into the two mediums, which I thought were nearly full (which is why the shallow super was added on the July 8th). 34% of the honey went into the brood chamber. Why am I using double deep brood chambers?