Beemaster's International Beekeeping Forum

BEEKEEPING LEARNING CENTER => GENERAL BEEKEEPING - MAIN POSTING FORUM. => Topic started by: Ben Framed on September 04, 2019, 11:36:03 pm

Title: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Ben Framed on September 04, 2019, 11:36:03 pm
Ever since I have been studying bees, the question comes up. How do I know if my bees have enough stores for the winter?  More than not, the answer is, '' pick up the back of the hive and feel the weight''. Why guess at it? Why not simply buy a set of hand held scales and get a pretty good idea? Most that I have ever seen have a hook on the bottom which should be fine for picking up the ''back of a hive'' this method should be more accurate than the feel method? And if the hook doesn't work, I feel sure that something else could be arranged?
Phillip
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: texanbelchers on September 04, 2019, 11:43:04 pm
Yep, hand held luggage scale.  Lift front and double, close enough and more accurate than hefting.  After the first 5 or 6 by hand they all feel heavy.
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Ben Framed on September 04, 2019, 11:46:38 pm
Yep, hand held luggage scale.  Lift front and double, close enough and more accurate than hefting.  After the first 5 or 6 by hand they all feel heavy.

That is my thought as well about them all feeling heavy. Texas there are others types which are even more heavy duty than luggage scales. Some hit the two hundred pound range which is surely overkill and should easily get the job done.
Phillip
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: jvalentour on September 04, 2019, 11:53:27 pm
So Phillip.
Let me mess things a little bit more...
It doesn't matter what the weight is if you feed in the winter. 
(They need to have numbers).
If you feed Mountain Camp style the bees will survive just fine. 
You need to decide if you want bees dependent on intervention or not.
I have always felt scales are not necessary.  Look at your hives and decide.
Do they have stores or not?
Feed or not?
Nucs will live on sugar at the top of the hive all winter as long as you supply the food.  (And keep them dry).
Been bee keeping 7 years, yet to purchase scales.   
J
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Dabbler on September 05, 2019, 08:13:34 am
I have been using a luggage scale for a number of years. I weigh left and right sides instead of front/back since my hives may not be centered over the stand.
I have noticed that you need to be careful and lift very vertically when weighing otherwise consecutive measurements will vary. At the risk of my "OCD" showing - I average 3 measurements on each side and add them.
Weigh or heft ?  Guess it all depends on what you are looking for and how "calibrated" your arm is.

Spence
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Nock on September 05, 2019, 08:51:43 am
I would think to get a good weight you would have to completely lift hive off stand. i think it would be hard to pick one end up to the same height every time. But I?ve never tried. 
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: van from Arkansas on September 05, 2019, 10:21:44 am
Lifting a hive, no need.  I placed a hive scale under a double deep 10 frame.  Never lifted over 15-20 pounds: I titled one end, slid the scale under, then let the tilt down, then slid the hive onto the scale.  I did ratchet the hive together TIGHT with motorcycle tie downs.  What a nightmare if the tilted hive were to come apart, so secure with ratchet strap.  Let leverage do all the work by use of tilt.
Van

Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: AR Beekeeper on September 05, 2019, 11:09:11 am
I have the scales, tripods, leavers to weigh hives, but I find it easier to inspect a colony, record the number of frames of food, and then feed to fill the empty comb.  Weight varies based on wood weight, type of frame/foundation used, and the amount of pollen in the frames.  I can have a feeding on a yard in about the same amount of time it takes to weigh the colonies.

I have the colonies in ten frame equipment in their winter hive configuration of a deep and a medium.  I have overwintered the last 2 years in single deeps, but I had nightmares of cleaning up winter deadouts, so this year I am adding a medium for a good night's sleep.  I usually will feed until the colony stops taking the syrup (4 to 6 gallons of 5:3 syrup), and I want to have this done by the middle of October.  Usually it is more like the end of October or the first week of November when I finish.

I have 2 yards with 8 colonies in 10 frame hives, and 8 nucs in 5 over 5 hive configuration in each yard.  I have 8 hive top feeders for the ten frame boxes and 1 gallon pails for the nucs.  I very often feed the 10 frame colonies full and then feed the nucs with open feeding using 2 tote boxes.  I complete a yard and then shift the feeders to the other yard using first the syrup left over from the first yard's feeding.
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Hops Brewster on September 05, 2019, 12:32:52 pm
with a scale or not, I can't lift a healthy hive by myself.   If I can lift it, I need to look at the food stores and feed if necessary.  but, since I'm looking anyway, I don't need to try to lift it!  No scales here.
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: texanbelchers on September 05, 2019, 02:59:49 pm
I'll generally only use the scale to do a quick check instead of opening the hives.  Accuracy isn't critical since you really only need a resolution of 10 pounds or so.  Consistency is more important. 
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: van from Arkansas on September 05, 2019, 03:37:07 pm
Mr. Ben, I believe ID suggest the heft test as a simple indicator of weight which if a beek has a 100?s or even 1,000 of hives such a simple test is satisfactory.  ID, please correct if I am incorrect.

For me, I purchased a hive scale, NFC transmit, not out of need or necessity but purely for enjoyment.  The scale cost $300.  Some would say that is crazy to spend that much, well in that case you would be bewildered at what I paid for my boat or Weatherby Rifles or... It?s all toys for the boys.

Like Hops,  I can?t lift a hive,,, unless I make/ask prior, final accommodations with Brother Michael.

I think your, Phil, idea of a hive scale with hook is a good one.

AR, you have the patience to take precise notes which is excellent, but I am not that disciplined.  I want to push buttons on my iPhone and see precise weights, precise temp/humidity, that is a Smart Hive for a dumb beekeeper.  See you at the next meeting.

Blessings
Van
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Skeggley on September 07, 2019, 09:33:44 pm
As Van says hive scales are a great tool for hobby beeks, interesting to see the weight fluctuate as the colony progresses, a great indicator of when a flow is on and a great way to spend more money on this seemingly bottomless money pit hobby.;)
Lifting the back hive, like watching the hive entrance, is a great non invasive way of checking colony health and when you lift a hive of a colony that?s starving it?s surprisingly light, instantly you?ll know somethings not right and the first thought isn?t I wonder what it weighs it?s crikey, where?s my feeding equipment!
Weighing a hive to check for winter pantry stores, in my opinion, isn?t what the essence of hefting a hive advice is all about.

As I mentioned watching the hive entrance I thought I?d share one of my favourite downloads in case anyone hasn?t perused it yet :)
https://breconandradnorbka.files.wordpress.com/2016/03/at-the-hive-entrance.pdf
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Acebird on September 08, 2019, 09:34:00 am

It doesn't matter what the weight is if you feed in the winter. 


Some hives cannot be fed in winter.

To the question at hand:  Be careful with weight of stores.  The stores need to be accessible to the cluster.  If they are not accessible then it is like they aren't there.  As a quick check I would tip  or rock the hive.  My hives in the north needed two boxes of honey.  You can get a feel for tipping by putting two boxes of honey first on the bottom of a stack and then on the top to check the difference.  Part of winter prep is knowing where the cluster is in the stack.
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Nock on September 08, 2019, 09:59:01 am

It doesn't matter what the weight is if you feed in the winter. 


Some hives cannot be fed in winter.

To the question at hand:  Be careful with weight of stores.  The stores need to be accessible to the cluster.  If they are not accessible then it is like they aren't there.  As a quick check I would tip  or rock the hive.  My hives in the north needed two boxes of honey.  You can get a feel for tipping by putting two boxes of honey first on the bottom of a stack and then on the top to check the difference.  Part of winter prep is knowing where the cluster is in the stack.
Why can?t some be fed?
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Michael Bush on September 09, 2019, 04:36:26 pm
>Why guess at it?

Because it?s simple and free...
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Acebird on September 09, 2019, 10:00:45 pm
Why can?t some be fed?
Because in cold climates the bees are clustered hopefully with a good amount of honey above them.  Mountain camp is an excuse for not leaving the bees enough honey and then acting like a hero coming to the emergency.  If you are a good beekeeper you don't need mountain camp.  The bees certainly don't.
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Ben Framed on September 09, 2019, 10:21:59 pm
>Why guess at it?

Because it?s simple and free...

Mr Bush, I understand your reasoning as you are well seasoned and established beekeeper. There are many here which are not, including myself. For us not knowing, how the proper weight of a hive going into winter (feels), is a guess. It may be free, let me add fast and cheap, to pick up the back of hives checking for weight as long as a hive has enough stores, but if not,  if can be costly to the bees as well as the beekeeper if hives are lost to starvation. Actually tragic. But you also said simple and I have learned to listen closely to your words. I am sure, after this season, and hopefully building confidence through this winter. I can also say the same as you, Because its simple and free.
 :happy:
Phillip
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Ben Framed on September 09, 2019, 10:34:28 pm
Quoting  Ace
To the question at hand:  Be careful with weight of stores.  The stores need to be accessible to the cluster.  If they are not accessible then it is like they aren't there.  As a quick check I would tip  or rock the hive.  My hives in the north needed two boxes of honey.  You can get a feel for tipping by putting two boxes of honey first on the bottom of a stack and then on the top to check the difference.  Part of winter prep is knowing where the cluster is in the stack.

Thanks Ace. Good information 'You can get a feel for tipping by putting two boxes of honey first on the bottom of a stack and then on the top to check the difference.''  Last year I had only Nucs and feed as directed by Live Oak and other who are in a similar climate as myself. This year is different as I have some double deep 10 framers and once again several nucs. I am sure I will figure it out with the help of you all. Thanks all.
Phillip
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: tjc1 on September 09, 2019, 11:02:35 pm
Cheap fix - go to savers and get an old bathroom scale - the flat, spring loaded kind (I don't know if an electronic one will work the same way). Reach under the bottom back of the hive and tip it forward enough to slide the scale about 1/3 the way under the hive. This will give you about half of the weight of the hive to within a pound or two. (You can test this by weighing a couple of cinder blocks by sitting them on the scale and then tipping them up and putting one end on the scale and the other on the floor, and see how far on the scale gives you half the original weight.) Of course, if you already have such a scale, you're all set! Of course, you have to have access to the back of the hives such that you can tip them AND get a scale under.

I originally thought about the luggage type scale with the hook, but couldn't see how to arrange the lifting aspect that didn't seem really scary and prone to a major mishap...

I have been weighing my three hives regularly for the past two years and it is really interesting and useful to track the fluctuations. It can tell you a lot about how the season is going and how the hives are doing comparatively.

As it can be useful to be able to figure for equipment weights, here are some measurements that I made that are in the ballpark, FWIW: YMMV

Weighed empty hive equipment ?

Empty deep = ca 9 lbs.

Empty medium = ca 6 lbs.

Medium with bare frames = ca 10 lbs.
       with drawn comb = ca 12 lbs.

Super with bare frames = 8lbs.
                         with drawn comb = 10 lbs.
              with wet comb after extraction = 15 - 16 lbs

Two deeps full of bare frames, bottom board, inner cover and telescoping top = ca 33 lbs.

Two mediums with frames and drawn comb, bottom board, inner cover and telescoping top = ca 30 lbs.

Three mediums w/ comb plus above = ca 42 lbs.

Three mediums and a super w/comb plus above = ca 52 lbs

Three mediums + 2 supers w/comb plus above = ca 62 lbs.

Medium full of honey = 55 lbs (as low as 35 lbs honey)

Super full of honey = 45 lbs (as low as 25 lbs honey)

Honey needed for winter = 60 ? 75 lbs (Dadant)

Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Acebird on September 10, 2019, 09:07:58 am
Cheap fix - go to savers and get an old bathroom scale - the flat, spring loaded kind (I don't know if an electronic one will work the same way). Reach under the bottom back of the hive and tip it forward enough to slide the scale about 1/3 the way under the hive.
https://photos.app.goo.gl/vQF1KqczWoQ2d1FV9
Much easier to use a lever.
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: tjc1 on September 10, 2019, 10:06:52 am
Nifty approach, tho my hives are too high off the ground... How do you account for the pressure of your foot? DOes the weight reach an equilibrium as you press down?
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Acebird on September 10, 2019, 05:35:28 pm
If you make the fulcrum in the center of the lever then what the scale reads is the weight of the hive.  (Assumption) the assumption is that the weight is equal on each side which it probably isn't.  So if you want a more accurate reading then do both sides and divide each reading in 1/2 and add them together.  It doesn't matter how high the hives are you will just need a spacer maybe 2X4 stick cut to the right height to reach the hive.  Watch the scale.  It will continue to rise until the hive lifts off what is supporting it then it will go no higher.  Try it it is easy to do.
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Ben Framed on September 11, 2019, 02:11:49 am
If you make the fulcrum in the center of the lever then what the scale reads is the weight of the hive.  (Assumption) the assumption is that the weight is equal on each side which it probably isn't.  So if you want a more accurate reading then do both sides and divide each reading in 1/2 and add them together.  It doesn't matter how high the hives are you will just need a spacer maybe 2X4 stick cut to the right height to reach the hive.  Watch the scale.  It will continue to rise until the hive lifts off what is supporting it then it will go no higher.  Try it it is easy to do.

Thanks Ace
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: tjc1 on September 13, 2019, 11:52:11 pm
So the hive has to come completely 'off the ground' as it were, rather than just lifting the front (or back) end? Sorry if I'm being dense...
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: Acebird on September 14, 2019, 08:07:42 am
So the hive has to come completely 'off the ground' as it were, rather than just lifting the front (or back) end? Sorry if I'm being dense...
Absolutely not.  Don't even try that.  You lift one side at a time and only a smidgen.
Title: Re: Hand Held Scale
Post by: tjc1 on September 19, 2019, 12:46:39 am
Got it - thanks!