Messing with Orientation Flights

This is probably as close as I’ll ever get to working my bees without a veil or gloves or a smoker. I’m not ready to follow the example of the Texas Beeworks beekeeper just yet.

00:00 — Introduction.

01:00 — Adding a rim with no veil, gloves or smoker. DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.

The rim will provide extra ventilation and upper entrances for the bees that seem to be crowding their regular entrance.

02:15 — Description of insulated inner cover.

02:55 — The rim helps relieve congestion similar to how a slatted rack works, except it’s on top of the hive instead of the bottom.

03:20 — Slight disorientation from changing the top entrance. Includes an explanation of how the bees orient to the smallest details of their hive entrance.

03:55 — (Re)orientation flights.

06:00 — Time-lapse of re-orientation flights.

07:10 — Half an hour later, everything is back to normal.

Postscript: Some colonies will build burr comb over the top bars to fill in the space created by the rim, but most of them for some reason don’t — even though it goes against the principle of bee space in a big way. If I insert a foundationless frame in the top box, the bees will usually fill that in before they try to do anything above the top bars. If I feed the bees syrup, or if there is an exceptionally strong nectar flow, they are usually more likely to build comb over the top bars too. I’ve also observed that if there’s already some old burr over one of the top bars for whatever reason, the bees are more likely to build comb off that. But if the bars are perfectly clean, they usually won’t.

None of the above applies to rims during the winter. The bees aren’t usually in comb-building mode when it’s cold.

The moral of the story: don’t just do it because I do it.

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