We have had rain nearly every day for the last three weeks. This has not been a good Spring for beekeeping in our area so far. We hope the Summer will improve. So it was not surprising to see our bees lining up at the front entrance with nectar once the weather improved yesterday. Both colonies are strong and were busy filling the honey supers already in place.
Some years ago I found an article about Anthony Planakis, a beekeeper in New York City. He extracted enormous amounts of honey from hives placed in his backyard. His method was to have entrances in every honey super on his hives. This allowed the nectar gathering bees to enter and exit directly. By doing this, they could cut down on travel through the normally congested brood box leaving more time to collect honey. It also gave very clean panels of cone honey as the bees often have dirty feet. My fault I suppose for not putting a welcome mat at the door. I had to admit, his photographs looked impressive.
© Anthony Planakis
The bees can be seen clustered around the holes on every honey super box.
Two other pieces of advice were given by Anthony. One, do not steal honey during the summer. His philosophy is, the more you take, the less they make. I have found the opposite to be true in our case. However, the pressure to produce more honey is perhaps too strong for many beekeepers. Just keeping and caring for bees should be sufficiently rewarding. Their struggles at the moment are occupying enough. Two, leave them alone. As beekeepers, we tend to be nosey and want to know what is happening in the hive, all the time.
So I decided to try an entrance in one of my honey supers. Apart from the occasional bee who came to look out, it was seen as inappropriate to their needs. They decided the idea was not to their liking and plugged the one-inch hole completely with propolis.
Thanks, but no thanks they said. We know what we like and what we need. It was not another hole. In the end, it was best to leave them to do what they do best. What they have been doing so well for the last few thousand years.
The propolis plugged upper entrance.
Link: Anthony Planakis