Hive Management

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Knowing what is happening in the hive is crucial to proper hive management. By knowing the beginning, end, and quantity of nectar flows, bee keepers can determine when to add and remove supers, when to move hives and where to locate hives to maximize honey production. By knowing the amount of young bees engaged in playflight, it is possible to calculate the strength of the hive and egg laying ability of the queen.

Below are graphs (weight and temperature signatures) of hive activity and their possible interpretations.

Orientation or Play Flight

Playflight.png

Data Log 08/21/2011 15:30 + 122.1
08/21/2011 15:35 + 122.1
08/21/2011 15:40 + 122.1
08/21/2011 15:45 + 122.1
08/21/2011 15:50 + 122.1
08/21/2011 15:55 + 122.1
08/21/2011 16:00 + 122.0
08/21/2011 16:05 + 122.0
08/21/2011 16:10 + 121.9
08/21/2011 16:15 + 121.9
08/21/2011 16:20 + 121.8
08/21/2011 16:25 + 121.7
08/21/2011 16:30 + 121.6
08/21/2011 16:35 + 121.6
08/21/2011 16:40 + 121.5

At 4:30 pm on August 21st, 2011, a sudden drop in hive weight, at times as much as .1 lb per 5 minutes, was noticed.

From the weight loss, here 0.6 lbs (122.1 - 121.5), a rough estimate of the number of bees engaging in playflight can be calculated. Assuming 3000 bees per pound, approximately 1800 bees were flying (0.6 lb x 3000 bees/lb).

This behavior was observed for 5 consecutive days until it rained.

By knowing the amount of young bees engaged in playflight, it should be possible to calculate the strength of the hive and egg laying ability of the queen.

Playflight Trigger

In these two photos, the scale hive is on the right. The top photo was taken about 3:45 PM on the afternoon of August 23, 2011. Note that the left hive is in the sun, while the three hives to the right are shaded.


The bottom photo was taken about 30 minutes later. The sun has shifted enough so now the three hives on the right are in the sun, while the left hive is beginning to be shaded.

Playflight1c2.jpg

Playflight3c2.jpg


Pollen Flow

Pollen.png

A rapid rise in hive weight was noted from 9:15 am to 11:15 am on 9/4/2011. The bees left the hive around 8 am and quickly began returning loaded with pollen. Notice that the pollen stopped coming in before noon and there was no weight loss in the afternoon due to evaporation (it was not nectar). Most of the bees landing at the hive were loaded with bright yellow pollen.

Data Log

2011/09/04 09:15 + 115.1 lb 2011/09/04 09:20 + 115.1 lb
2011/09/04 09:25 + 115.2 lb
2011/09/04 09:30 + 115.2 lb
2011/09/04 09:35 + 115.3 lb
2011/09/04 09:40 + 115.3 lb
2011/09/04 09:45 + 115.3 lb
2011/09/04 09:50 + 115.4 lb
2011/09/04 09:55 + 115.4 lb
2011/09/04 10:00 + 115.4 lb
2011/09/04 10:05 + 115.4 lb
2011/09/04 10:10 + 115.5 lb
2011/09/04 10:15 + 115.5 lb
2011/09/04 10:20 + 115.5 lb
2011/09/04 10:25 + 115.6 lb
2011/09/04 10:30 + 115.6 lb
2011/09/04 10:35 + 115.7 lb
2011/09/04 10:40 + 115.7 lb
2011/09/04 10:45 + 115.7 lb
2011/09/04 10:50 + 115.7 lb
2011/09/04 10:55 + 115.7 lb
2011/09/04 10:57 + 115.7 lb
2011/09/04 11:00 + 115.7 lb
2011/09/04 11:05 + 115.8 lb
2011/09/04 11:10 + 115.8 lb

Right: No bees were seen on on goldenrod.

Below: Numerous bees were observed on lambs quarter:

Goldenrod1 250.jpg Goldenrod2 234.jpg
Lambsquarter1 300.jpg Lambsquarter2 300.jpg Lambsquarter3 300.jpg

Brood Chamber Temperatures

Hive graph 2011 brood.gif

Fall Die Off

Hive graph 20111026 fall die off.gif

I'm calling this "Fall Die Off" for a lack of a better understanding of what is going on. Note that the brood temperature has dropped to 85 degrees from 95 degrees.


In the graph below, courtesy of Dr. Wayne Esaias, GSFC, NASA, it is referred to as "They left and didn't come back".

NASA Fall loss figs.png


Possibilities:

  1. Death of bees maybe due to pesticides.
  2. Death of 'summer bee' foragers that get carted away (death might occur mostly during cold nights)
  3. Fall drone massacre/death
  4. Robbing (lots of chronic, sneaky, petty larceny this time of yr)
  5. Hive drying out during daytime (usually Sept nights here are very humid, lots of dew, not good for drying)
  6. Something else

Hive Relocation

Hive graph 20111111 athens move.gif Late in the afternoon on Friday, November 4th the hives were moved from Sky Valley, Ga (elevation 3700 feet) and set up Saturday morning, November 5th in Athens, Ga (elevation 700 feet).

1. On Sunday, November 6th, at 2:00 pm bees left the hive.
2. A short time later, about half of them came back.
3. Late in the afternoon of the next day, between 5:00 pm and 7:30 pm, most of the bees had returned.
4. The hive computer was accidentally turned of Sunday night and turned on Monday morning.
5. The bees left the next morning started bringing back food. Perhaps another source was found as more bees left,
6. and brought back more food.
7. The next morning the bees left early and soon returned with food.
8. Perhaps additional foraging sources were found.
9. Rain. Notice that the weight immediately starts rising. No bees had left the hive.
10. Rain evaporating from the outside of the hive. Note the faster evaporation rate compared to the nectar evaporation between 8 and 9.

Wind and Rain

Hive graph 20120105 wind.png


Spring Build Up

Hive graph 20120128.gif

On January 24th the foragers left in a large number, were not gone long, and returned with over a pound of something (probably water). Then, the next day, they were gone longer and didn't come back with much (probably pollen).

Looking at the data from January 10 through January 30, it appears they brought back water several times, with increasing frequency.

Hive graph spring1.gif
Foragers pollen1.jpg Foragers pollen2.jpg Foragers pollen3.jpg
Courtesy of Dr. Wayne Esaias, Honey Bee Net at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center:

"The bees are bringing in lots of water, adding to the weight. They must add water to the honey, otherwise the osmotic concentration is too high for feeding to larvae. Think about how 'runny' a squashed bee larva is compared to honey. That comes from the water they bring in.

Colony respiration is a positive relation to temperature. Higher at higher temps. The more rapid loss is from increased metabolic activity due to more flying, and having to raise the brood area temp. The higher metabolic activity results in a weight loss as mass is respired, and colony loss rates increase - more dying and defecation.

Think of it this way. Imagine sitting on a scale yourself, with your lunchbox on your lap. Record the weight. Now eat your sandwich and drink your tea. The total weight did not change. Get up, visit the bathroom as nature calls. Get back on and the weight is less. Eating your stores did not change the weight. Metabolic activity and elimination did. There was actually a very slow weight loss due to your respiration and loss of CO2 and H20 in your breath. But eating what was already on the scale did not cause a weight loss, but eating is necessary for the loss to occur. The lunchbox will not lose weight unless you eat the sandwich."


Foragers pollen4.jpg
Foragers pollen5.jpg

Spring Nectar Flow

Adding and removing honey supers is best managed by knowing the beginning and end of nectar flows. This hive experienced a 90 pound weight gain in just three weeks!
Daily filtered 20120406 spring flow.gif Athens march.gif Athens march all.gif

DateDay of YearWeightManipulation ChangeDelta Weight
2012/03/1272 140.1 48.3 1.3
2012/03/1373 140.9 48.3 0.8
2012/03/1474 143.2 48.3 2.3
2012/03/1575 128.5 30.3 3.3
2012/03/1676 133.2 30.3 4.7
2012/03/1777 133.1 30.3-0.1
2012/03/1878 136.7 30.3 3.6
2012/03/1979 143.4 30.3 6.7
2012/03/2080 151.1 30.3 7.7
2012/03/2181 155.9 30.3 4.8
2012/03/2282 159.2 30.3 3.3
2012/03/2383 162.5 30.3 3.3
2012/03/2484 165.0 30.3 2.5
2012/03/2585 169.2 30.3 4.2
2012/03/2686 178.0 30.3 8.8
2012/03/2787 180.4 30.3 2.4
2012/03/2888 189.5 30.3 9.1
2012/03/2989 197.8 30.3 8.3
2012/03/3090 202.5 30.3 4.7
2012/03/3191 203.1 30.3 0.6
2012/04/0192 206.5 30.3 3.4
2012/04/0293 209.5 30.3 3.0
2012/04/0394 210.4 30.3 0.9
23 Day Total Weight Gain89.6



Robbing

Robbing3.gif

Tue Apr 3 10:45:00 2012  Bees. robbing 21 lb gross deep from Athens meant for another hive. Oops.
Tue Apr 3 12:05:00 2012  Super now weighs 17 lbs. So this is what robbing looks like. Pretty impressive.
Tue Apr 3 13:20:00 2012  light rain started
Tue Apr 3 13:55:00 2012  Super now weighs 15.5 lbs. End of experiment
Tue Apr 3 15:10:00 2012  hard rain

Hive Orientation

Ga4 morning 20120427 0855.gif Nc2 morning 20120427 0845.gif

GA004 and NC002 are about 5 miles (and 1600 feet vertically) apart. GA004 is located close to a building on the west side with it's entrance facing south. It doesn't get direct sun until 11:00 am. NC002 is on a ridge top with it's entrance facing east and gets the first morning light.

Mathematical Model

ΔHive Weight = Weight Gain - Weight Loss
[1]

Weight Gain = Nectar + Pollen + water + brood growth + bee growth + landings + FOD
[2]

Weight Loss = Evaporation + Metabolic activity (respiration) + bee deaths + waste elimination + take offs
[3]

Evaporation = (Nectart0)*ER + (Nectart-1)*2/3*ER + (Nectart-2)*1/3*ER
[4]

where


Evaporation Rate (ER) ~ (Water Content * Temperature * Wind)
                Humidity

[5]

FOD (Foreign Object or Debris): Rain, animals, branch, rock

Predicting Nectar Flows

Forage plant abundance

  • plant population age structure

Soil

  • pH
  • Nutrients
  • Moisture
  • Drainage

Weather

  • rain - soil moisture
  • rainy days during nectar flow
  • drought
  • temperature
  • humidity

Temperature

  • late spring freeze
  • hot dry summer
  • cool wet summer
  • harsh winter

Orientation

  • north/south slope

Past History

  • alternate year dependencies


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