this BEE-L post
(Fwd) Re: The tipping method for honey removal
From: Allen Dick <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, 15 Sep 1996
This is a
reply to a private email that resulted from a recent post. I
imagine the content is of general interest, so am sending it
> Yes, some odor does get into
the honey house, but I have
> found that a quick ventilation of the building when
> removes the odor.
As I said those who use the Bee-Go,
cannot smell it, even though the smell lingers for months.
> Anyway, I'm intrigued by the
tipping method and would prefer
> to use that vs. boards. I'm probably somewhere
> the group that you mentioned who don't have the expertise
> to use this method.
Well, if you think you are an
intermediate, then likely you are humble and observant
enough to get away with using tipping :) Lots of beginners
quickly think they are *experts* because they read the books
and/or got elected to an executive position in the local bee
club -- hence my warning.
> I can tell the difference between
bees leaving a super and those
> robbing. However, I don't have much of an idea of what
> weather and flow conditions are good.
Here's a good indicator of a good
flow: Many bees come and go rapidly from all hives (without
stopping to orient), and there is no serious defensive
behaviour at the entrances. bees do not 'hover' like bullets
at every potential hive crack in the characteristic robbing
position. Honey left on the ground in front of the hives is
left *untouched* for days. There is humming at night as the
bees fan the moisture from nectar, and often some of the
bees will 'hang out'.
> I'm surprised that you say this
> work under robbing conditions.
I am really leery about recommending
tipping without a flow because I have often been surprised
to find what other beekeepers might do -- or not know that I
would have never imagined from just talking to them --
things that might have a huge influence on the results.
Using abandonment during 'no flow'
conditions is tricky because of the possibility of robbing
activity overwhelming weak hives (and an inexperienced
beekeeper), and conversely the difficulties posed by the
bees being semi-dormant in the supers.
Using tipping during a good flow is
reasonably idiot-proof, but if there is *even a chance* of
robbing, well... Then it gets unpredictable.
(So, Remember -- don't try this at
home kids -- unless you happen to be -- or have the
supervision of -- a well experienced beekeeper)!
Here's how it is done:
Firstly , you don't just go away
while the boxes are tipped when robbing is possible. You
Since one way to stop robbing
(temporarily, at least) in a yard is to remove*every* hive
lid and leave it off while you work, a similar effect can be
used to have the bees leave the supers -- without robbing
When you tip boxes from every hive
in a yard on a hot day with many bees flying actively and
perhaps light robbing already occurring, the bees will
depart quite rapidly. In the confusion, there will not be
much robbing or violent defensive behaviour until the boxes
are picked up, and even then there should be little problem
-- if it is accomplished with reasonable speed. Be careful
not to leave scraps of honey around when you depart.
Once begun, there will be *a lot* of
bee activity -- enough to intimidate novices. If you plan to
work with this, try it on a limited scale at first.
A method I consider much safer is to
place full supers (with bees) -- not necessarily from only
one hive if you use excluders) on a single pallet with the
top of the stack open, about two or three hours before dusk
on a day when the hives are active.
Light robbing starts and gets the
bees stirred up enough to depart, but the declining light
puts a natural end to robbing and flight, and stimulated the
bees to want to go home to mother. If things go awry, just
placing a tight lid on the stack ends the problem.
You return to claim the boxes any
time before 8 AM or so (Don't be late). It's slick, and when
done right, few -- if any -- bees remain, and none are
killed. The burr comb is nicely cleaned up and the honey
either deposited in the combs or taken back to the parent
hive. It works best in a home yard, and that's where I have
often used it without any problem.
Of course, you can just put a bee
escape board on top of the above stacks to begin with (with
the triangle up), and if you have taped the cracks, you can
even depart for a while.
The problem with this in no-flow
conditions is that the bees may be sluggish and not inclined
to leave unless stimulated by repeated smoking or the
stimulation caused by some light robbing. But then, you can
wait days with no problem if the escape board can stand
*Tipping*, on the other hand causes
some stimulation by changing the normal orientation of the
super, and allowing light to enter. Nonetheless, smoke may
be required to get the bees to start moving.
> This year we have had excellent
honey production and many
> hives have 5 or 6 packed full shallow supers on
> they are packed, many have burr comb between supers
> and thus honey is exposed when supers are separated from
> the hive. Under robbing conditions, I'd expect
> with this exposed honey and 50-60 supers standing on end
> waiting for bees to abandon.
Well, robbing from an open source
becomes a huge problem mainly when the open supply runs out,
and the bees start to seek honey everywhere. If the supply
is removed at dusk and the bees have the night to settle
down, things are much better.
If you can control robbing and you
can move the boxes away quickly when most of the bees are
gone, and if the hives in the area are all strong, and there
are no neighbours with bees -- no problem. Otherwise...
Hmmm. Quite a few 'if's in one statement!
BTW If you do this during mid day,
you'll want to pick up the boxes well before every last bee
is gone, and be prepared to clean up with brushing, shaking
or a blower if necessary. The last few bees will leave the
stacks as you prepare to drive away. If you wait for them
all to be gone, you will not be able to complete.
I've never had a problem using the
stacking technique, and can't really see a problem using
tipping -- if a flow is on. If you are uncertain or want to
try it when robbing is possible (or certain) do it late in
the day until you build up confidence, so that if things go
awry, you can tidy up at dusk.
I am not recommending by describing
these methods that the unwary start a robbing frenzy, and
caution those who are in areas where robbing can turn into
bedlam to be careful or people can be stung, nucs can be
robbed out, etc.
I've never kept bees where most of
you live, so I sure can't predict the outcome of trying
abandonment during a dearth in your district. Where I have
bees, I am usually the only beekeeper for a mile or so, so I
don't have to worry about other peoples' bees participating
unexpectedly. Beekeeping neighbours will affect your
decisions. Please bee careful.