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Author Topic: Estimating honey flow by takeoffs???  (Read 6155 times)
David Stokely
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« Reply #20 on: July 30, 2009, 07:21:01 AM »

I was pleasantly surprised when I did a little quick inspection of my north hive (several miles from here).  It had been lagging behind the hive in my back yard, but in the week since my last look-in, the girls have drawn out and filled the majority of 5 frames and have done some minor work on 2-3 other frames.  The super is getting close to half full after one week.

The south hive (in my back yard by the pond) where I have been seeing all the tremendous activity has barely started drawing out any frames in the top super.  I was so surprised.  Reading other posts here at beemaster.com, I'm figuring that this hive must be back filling the brood chambers.  I'm going to get into both hives this weekend and look completely through them to see how they are doing.  I'm really going to give the honey super foundation a good spraying down with my sugar syrup/lemon grass oil/sea salt mixture to try and get them working up there.

C10250 - I watched your video.  That was pretty neat.  Pretty thick foliage around there.

Jimmyo - I wish I had some big stands of Joe Pye around here.  I take wildlife pictures and that is one of my most favorite flowering plants.  The butterflies especially love Joe Pye.  It's not very common that I find it and then only in small patches.  Here's a link to a picture of mine of a swallowtail butterfly on Joe Pye I took a couple of years ago:

http://www.photoportfolios.net/portfolio/pf.cgi?a=vp&pr=58306&pi=WEB_WALKER_1&CGISESSID=c36d7c7d95c7caf06079c70875e148c0&u=19448

If anyone knows where I might buy Joe Pye honey I'd love to get some.  That plant really intrigues me.


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jimmyo
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« Reply #21 on: July 30, 2009, 07:50:58 AM »

great photo
Joe Pye is hit and miss around here too.
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David Stokely
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« Reply #22 on: August 06, 2009, 01:56:32 PM »

After another coolish and rainy weekend we are having some of the first real summer weather of the season and the girls seem to be loving it.  Huge hive activity when I go home for lunch each noon this week.  Yesterday and today takeoffs of more than 120/minute and when I peeked in the honey super last night they've pretty well filled two medium frames since Saturday.  That's at the hive at my house.  I'll check my north hive tonight after work.  

I continue to be baffled by what they could be gathering.  Speaking to a local bee guru, as I bought some foundation from him a week or so ago, I mentioned that I thought they might be getting soy bean nectar.  This very experienced beekeeper lives about 15 miles to the south of me and his response to that wast that he has never seen any soy bean honey in his hives in all his years of beekeeping.  I talked to him about the article that I read in Bee Culture Magazine on soy bean honey and he was familiar with what is said about it, but standing in his bee yard, literally surrounded in almost every direction by large fields of blooming soy beans, he says that he has never seen any nectar flow from the beans.  So I don't know.  What ever they are gathering is almost water clear and 90% of their traffic is from the one point on the compass in which the closest soy bean fields are found.  There might be something else out there.  It is also in the same direct as a lot of bottom land next to the river.  Who knows.  I guess the taste test will be the only way to know for sure, but then I have no idea what soy bean honey tastes like. . .Oh well.  I'll just be glad to get some honey this year.  Sounds like I may be the exception rather than the rule.

The local guru said that I'm the only one buying supplies for honey supers.  He hasn't taken any honey off yet and isn't optimistic about having much if any at all this year, so if I can get a few gallons I'll be pretty happy.

 Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley Smiley


 
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1of6
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« Reply #23 on: August 06, 2009, 09:03:16 PM »

I'm still not able to wrap my around around a perceived guarantee that a lot of bees coming back into the hives directly equates to a lot of nectar being brought back into the hive.  This seems like a pretty big assumption, much like all the fishermen coming home at the end of the day - don't assume that they brought a large (or any) catch.  I'd feel much more comfortable with going off of an increase in hive weight, or even finding a lot of wet fresh nectar in the frames as a true indication.  A lot of the other notes are right on, but I'd have reservations about using traffic as the indicator.

My $0.02
« Last Edit: August 06, 2009, 09:50:42 PM by 1of6 » Logged
David Stokely
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« Reply #24 on: August 07, 2009, 06:14:43 AM »

My only response to that would be, and please forgive me I surely am no expert at this, but that there would seem to be to me a lot more uncertainty to going fishing than gathering nectar.  Obviously someone has to find the nectar initially, but I think bees go out in numbers in response to nectar found.  I remember seeing little videos of bees doing their little dance, communicating by the energy and direction of their dance the quantity of flowers, and the direction, distance, etc. 

I could understand the activity being just explorers or scouts going out, if the activity was evenly spread to pretty much all points of the compass, but this activity is so concentrated in just one direction.  Like I said before 9 of 10 bees leaving are going to the northwest. . .

So far to me there seems to be a strong correlation between takeoff activity and comb drawn and filled.  The exception being when they were backfilling the brood chambers.  Then I saw lots of hive activity every day, but nothing being put up in the honey super, now that they seem to have competed that, they are again drawing out the honey super frames and filling them. [I added another honey super last night.  I'm going to be on vacation next week and I think at the rate they are going that they will fill the existing medium before I get back]

On cool cloudy days the takeoff activity is a small fraction of what it is on a warm sunny day, but on days of cloud and rain after sunshine, the takeoff  activity remains high.

I agree the only certain way is to weigh the hive.  I don't have a hive scale.  This is just something that I think about as I eat my lunch and watch the hive each day.

I really appreciate your comments. . . .

Thanks,

 Smiley
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1of6
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« Reply #25 on: August 07, 2009, 09:28:49 AM »

Good correlations can usually be drawn between weather factors + time of season and nectar flows, but I'm sure you can see there a good many variables there too.  It's so easy for us to have weather this year where the bees either can't be out to forage enough, or there isn't a good flow on.  It's really tough to gauge without picking frames out and examining, but yeah, activity is still a good thing to watch.  Wet nectar in the hive will really tell you the story though.

BTW, throw away any assumption that we are experts here either Smiley as we all have different local variables, different climate conditions, different strains of bees, different levels of experience, different management styles, and are operating on a different day of the week.  It's fun to watch here just what people are seeing in their areas and compare them with our own.  I count my blessings that I don't have to deal with some of the issues that other folks do, but then I find myself envious of the guy in California with 11 supers stacked up who has a year-round flow.  It's just different everywhere you go, and different for everyone.  My mentor down the road had 100% loss this past winter.  I had 10% loss.  Yes we have different management techniques, but strangely enough, being 3 miles apart, our honey always tastes and looks vastly different.  So many factors.  I know that my bees have access to stuff up on teh side of the mountain that his don't, and at times it's the stuff up there that's providing the nectar flow, not the stuff down by us.  But yes, this year is just topsey-turvey.

David, have a great vacation and watch to see what sources you see and what bee activity you spot while you're on vacation.  It'll be interesting for you to comare it to your home environment upon your return.  We also look forward to hearing how that super gets filled out.

Take care and be safe,
-Doug
« Last Edit: August 07, 2009, 09:43:34 AM by 1of6 » Logged
Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #26 on: August 07, 2009, 11:24:47 PM »

Take off and landings per second is not a reliable way to equate honey flow. 
Why?
Consider:
How much of the activity at the front of the hive is from orientation flights?
What % of foragers are actually gathering nectar verses the other forage components of propolis, pollen, and water?
On a hot day there is a good chance the majority of foragers gathering water to air condition the hive.
On mild to warm days there is more likely a larger % of bees concentrating on nectar and pollen because the need for air conditioning is not as vital.
Not every bee that gathers nectar also collects pollen and visa versa.
I've seen hives with temps in the 70's gather more nectar with less entrance activity than hives do with temps in the 90's or above and much more activity.
What is blooming, how much there is, and distance to the source all play their role in, aka the state of the honey flow plays a part.
Pre-swarm brood buildup will switch the forage activity more to pollen over nectar.

There's other factors but that should give a idea. 

The best a beekeeper can hope for is a large population boom prior to a major honey flow so that the hive can take full advantage of the available forage.
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David Stokely
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« Reply #27 on: August 08, 2009, 07:13:17 AM »

I surely agree with the pollen.  In my original calculations, I tried to subtract the percentage of bees returning with pollen.  Yesterday was just a huge pollen day.  I think every bit of 1 of 3 and maybe even close to 1 of 2 were returning with pollen.  The day before it was maybe 1 of 10 coming back with pollen, so obviously that does factor in.  And I do also realize that water is often carried.  That surely would confuse the issue, but it's just not a factor here right now.  My hive is immediately next to a pond and I might see an occasional bee on the lily pads getting water, but not many at all.  There just hasn't been any heat here all summer.  It is a very hot day this year that gets to more than 80°.

In my little system, I have tried to only count only departures as I think that you can tell the difference between bees departing for foraging from bees on orientation flights.  I try to watch 2 -3 feet away from the hive and the leaving foragers are rapid straight line bullets shooting through the wafting cloud of hovering orientation bees.

The big uncertainty to me is, "Do returning foragers come back empty? or only partially full?" or the reverse of that, "Does the hive send out lots of foragers if there's nothing to gather?"  My instinct tells me no, but instinct can lead you astray.  The whole basis of this theory is that if great numbers of bees are going out, then they must be getting something or the hive wouldn't be wasting precious honey resources of bees burning up lots of energy for fruitless flights.  

Another unknown, which I would think would be a far far smaller percentage is how many are gathering propolis?

I really wish I had a hive scale, again not that it matters that much to me.  It's going to be what it's going to be as far as honey flow and crop, but it would be neat to investigate further in this direction, but I do see a relationship in busy leaving activity and nectar filling the frames.

I'm leaving on vacation in a few hours and I won't have a computer where I'm going, so I won't be able to respond again until next week. . .

Bye.

Smiley
 

    
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