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Author Topic: hive notes  (Read 2374 times)

Offline Bob Wilson

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hive notes
« on: December 02, 2020, 10:39:32 pm »
How does eveyone keep notes on their hives?
I believe Jim writes comments on note cards and leaves them on top of the inner cover, under the hive top.

And what exactly needs to be in the notes? How many seams of bees, what percentage of brood on each frame, beetle conditions, mite condition, how much honey, look for QCs, general hygeine, how many empty frames, amount of drones, and so forth.
Just how much information do you all record for later evaluation?
Does anyone use an inspection sheet, and how does that work with propolis fingers?

Offline The15thMember

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #1 on: December 03, 2020, 12:48:27 am »
Okay, disclaimer first.  I'm one of those people who can absorb information very quickly and retain it well.  I am also someone who thinks and remembers best in words and not statistics.  My system is definitely not the most efficient, and it's still a work in progress (like beekeeping generally, I guess), so I'm not necessarily recommending it to you, Bob, because I'm not sure how well it would actually work for someone else.  But obviously, everyone has to figure out what style of record-keeping works for them (like beekeeping generally, I guess, :cheesy:), so here's what I do.  Hopefully it'll at least give you some ideas. 

When I'm actually working the hives I have with me a 1 in. binder full of inspection record sheets.  When I originally started beekeeping I bought a small spiral bound set of inspection records made by Little Giant, and when they ran out, I used my home printer to copy 2 of them front and back and made the sheets I use today.  Here's a picture of one.
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I picked the page with the most propolis on it.  For me that's as bad as it gets.  And yes, the pages are a little sticky, but it's not as bad as you'd think.  Each page has the notes for 2 inspections.  On the top there are boxes to record the hive ID (for me that is the name of the queen in the hive), the time of day, the weather, how many boxes/supers are on the hive, how many frames are in the hive, whether there is a honey flow on, whether there is a pollen flow on, whether the hive was queenright, the stages of brood that were seen, how good the brood pattern was, the temperament of the hive, the presence of various pests/diseases, the number of frames of brood, honey, pollen, and blanks, whether the hive is being fed, whether the hive is being treated, and an overall assessment of the colony's strength.  All this info I fill in after I am finished inspecting for the day.  Then on the bottom of the page is a pictorial representation of the hive, and as I'm paging through the frames, I quickly jot down a shorthand version of what I'm seeing.  My sister came up with this actually, since she was the original note-taker.  Horizontal stripes=a drawn blank, curls=brood, and zigzag=stores.  If the brood is drone I just put a D on the frame, if the stores are pollen I put a P, if I see the queen on the frame I put Q, and if I see queen cells I put QC and the number of cells.  The info about the frames I write as I am working, and it's enough for me to jog my memory later.  I only work a max of 4 hives in one day, so obviously with a lot of hives this wouldn't be practical.

I also have a standard, spiralbound college ruled notebook which is essentially my beekeeping journal.  At the end of every day of inspecting I write down everything that I feel I'd like to remember about the inspections.  Here's a small sample entry: "7/11/20 Added supers to Berenice and Hip and removed their entrance reducers since they were fanning pretty good.  Berenice got box #4 and Hip, box #5 which will soon be #4 since I put the escape board on and will harvest a super tomorrow.  I put 2 frames in the freezer since they were half drones, and left 7 in that box, so it should equate to 8 med. frames.  It was a time-consuming and challenging rearrange, but got it done pretty well I think. . . ."  That entry goes on for another page and a half, but you get the idea.  For me this really helps to cement in my mind all that happened that day.

This year, having at most 7 hives now, I found it hard to find specific information looking back at my sheets and journal, so this year I also added a Word file titled "Bee Log", which I use basically as an index for my other notes.  Since it's searchable, I can find key information quickly, and I can also easily tabulate information about each hive to compare it at a glance.  Here's the entry from this document from the same day as the previous sample from my journal: "7/11 Added 4th box to Berenice, 5th box and triangle escape board to Hippolyta, and removed both entrance reducers."  I also used this document to make end of the year overall hive assessments like this one: "Queen Elizabeth/Mary (M&Ms) -- Peak size: 5 boxes.  Treated with trapping comb which probably led to a supersedure.  Top honey producer, great temperament, managed mites well on own, good brood pattern, 3 boxes of brood at peak.  A+" 

So that's what works for me, at least at the moment.  Hopefully that gave you some ideas to ponder, and hopefully this answer didn't take you an hour to read.  :embarassed: :cheesy:           
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Offline Acebird

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #2 on: December 03, 2020, 08:23:28 am »
Bees have always been a hobby for me.  I take no notes and record nothing.  I let the bees be bees.  The hardest part for me is trying to remember what I did yesterday.  It seems to be getting worse.  The only thing that I have tried to do is understand what the bees are doing at the time I look at them in the hopes that I don't do some thing detrimental to their existence.  I only have one hive now and I thought I would have more by now but I haven't yet figured these florida bees out.  I truly am witnessing the difference with location.  On a sad note I am finishing my last jar of NY honey and all the mead is gone.
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Offline little john

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #3 on: December 03, 2020, 10:43:16 am »
I keep two permanent text files on a non-Internet computer: one is a "Beekeeping TO DO" file - essentially a daily diary - very useful when queen-rearing or similar, in which I can place date markers in advance.
The other file is an "Apiary Status" file, which I review from time to time, and consult prior to any in-depth inspection of a hive. It contains the Queen Status and behaviour of each colony, the genetic lineage of it's Queen, as well as brief notes about any problems or observations of importance.

I don't much care for creating data for data's sake, and so I keep my notes to an absolute minimum - only that info which I really need to know. These notes are written on scraps of paper as I work, and transferred to the computer each time I take a break.
LJ
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Offline Dabbler

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #4 on: December 03, 2020, 05:45:30 pm »
I am a spreadsheet guy.  I record the inspection on my phone and transcribe it onto a spreadsheet later.

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This lets me quickly review the brood nest development as well as  the food storage.
And yes, this is probably overkill but . . . .
Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the tests first, the lessons afterwards .
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Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #5 on: December 03, 2020, 08:10:46 pm »
Keep notes on whatever form or format that works for you.  The main thing is to not expect that whatever you are using at the hive is the final record; For reasons of sticky hands and tools.  Most people transcribe into a book or electronic form later.  A websearch pops up many public offerings from weatherproof papered notebooks, smartphone apps, PC spreadsheets.

Content matters more than form. Generally the things you want to make notes on so you can track and trend progress are the following.  These are the things that you can look back at when making hive management decisions and for assessing if the hive is doing well or doing poorly, over time.

Date
Total hive size; as boxes or frames
Cluster size, # frames covered in bees
Nest size, # frames of brood all stages in 60% of cells both sides. 
Brood health, observations of pattern, caps, and larvae
Bee health, observations of wings, abdomens size, general movement on the combs
Pollen, # frames containing pollen in 40% or more of cells both sides.
Honey, # frames containing mostly honey 80%
Empty nest space, # frames mostly empty in the lower brood nest for the queen to work
Empty nectar space, # frames mostly empty in the honey boxes for the bees to work
Harvest, # frames of honey taken
Mite sample, mite count, once per month
Notable exceptions:  examples, swarm cells, robbing, dearth,
Manipulations made
Manipulations planned next

(... add up the smaller partial frames to count as one)

Some folks record more things, some record less things.  Also not necessary to record this stuff for every hive in the apiary.  Just the ones you are most interested in or most concerned about.  Otherwise pick a random number that will be representative of most the colonies as the sample and keep detailed notes on those.

Not sure if that helps or not.


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Offline little john

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #6 on: December 03, 2020, 09:12:53 pm »
For anyone who doesn't want to keep notes, but needs some kind of reminder regarding each hive's status - there's always the 'brick language'.

A standard house brick is around 8" x 3.5" x 2", and so at it's simplest a brick could be placed on a hive roof in 3 ways: on end; on edge; or flat. This could then provide an immediate visual indicator designating 'urgent action required'; 'action required asap'; or 'hive ok'.

Of course this information could very easily be extended - with six sides to the brick, and using the brick's position on the hive roof etc  - and so could be as simple or as complex as you wish.
LJ
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Offline Ralphee

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2020, 01:52:01 am »
I am the worst person in the world at spotting the queen, and it annoys me (yes i know i dont *have* to see her) - so i got a GoPro and a small tripod stand.
Sit that on top of the second hive, inspect the first, swap it over to inspect the second hive.
As i inspect each frame i hold it still in front of the GoPro for a couple seconds (long enough to ensure focus and at least one clear shot)
Then i dump that onto my computer and add any notes i cant remember - and look for the queen!

I use a free app on my phone called ApiManager. if you do it on the same day it can download and add the weather for you, can run different sites, multiple hives etc etc, pretty handy free app.

And no - i am not going to upload the videos of me getting stung!  :cheesy:

Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2020, 09:25:18 am »
This is a half sheet (5.5X8.5) ring binder notebook with a mock up of the system I plan to use.
Keep in mind I have horizontal hives... hence the 32 deep frames. This represents the entire hive.
I think I can record all the important info here, such as percentage of frames full of bees, spring build up info, eggs, larva, pest, etc.
It will record where I insert, remove, or shift any frames.
This past season, I wrote whatever information I could remember in a blank notebook. I never remembered what important info to look for and record, and the notes where happhazzard and incompete. I was always forgetting how many and of what kind of each frame I had.

15Memeber. I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, unlike the blessing of your excellent memory, but I make up for it by steadily plodding along. It's how I improve.
« Last Edit: December 04, 2020, 09:47:11 am by Bob Wilson »

Offline The15thMember

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2020, 01:01:39 pm »
This is a half sheet (5.5X8.5) ring binder notebook with a mock up of the system I plan to use.
Keep in mind I have horizontal hives... hence the 32 deep frames. This represents the entire hive.
I think I can record all the important info here, such as percentage of frames full of bees, spring build up info, eggs, larva, pest, etc.
It will record where I insert, remove, or shift any frames.
This past season, I wrote whatever information I could remember in a blank notebook. I never remembered what important info to look for and record, and the notes where happhazzard and incompete. I was always forgetting how many and of what kind of each frame I had.

15Memeber. I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, unlike the blessing of your excellent memory, but I make up for it by steadily plodding along. It's how I improve.

It's like any trait which one possesses a large dose of, sometimes it's a blessing and sometimes it's a curse.  Slow and steady wins the race they say, and I would probably improve with a dose of slow and steady to help balance me out.  I think that mockup sheet looks great.  Everything you need at a glance, and should be easy to fill out as you work.         
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline cao

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2020, 08:19:23 pm »
How does eveyone keep notes on their hives?

I use painters tape on the back of the hive and a sharpie pen.   I just write the essentials.  When I need to add a box, harvest honey or check for queen cells.  If they are queenright or when queen cells hatch?   I would love to have detailed notes but I realized after reaching 15-20 hives, it would take too much of my time to transcribe all though notes.  Now near 80 hives, way too much paperwork for a hobby.

Offline JojoBeeBoy

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2020, 11:33:30 pm »
I'm impressed by everyone's record-keeping. Makes me realize I don't keep enough. Mine are sharpie notes on the top of the box with dates and initials/codes. Sometimes a personal note.

We had a shrimp boil for our youngest son's graduation from college in August. His friends were fascinated with the bees. I had a bunch of queen cells and was down to the last 1-2 (had captured the rest). The kids were passing around a frame and found the last queen, so I wrote "kids" and the date the next morning. Then I knew that the other queens in the subsequent nucs were 1-2 days older, and I remembered getting to talk about bees and seeing the wide-eyed fascination of folks who thought they were as great as I did. Whatever works for you.  :happy:

Offline Brian MCquilkin

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2020, 12:57:47 am »
I'm not that good at keeping written notes, five minutes after writing them I can't read my own handwriting.
I use an online beekeeping software (API Manager) updated in realtime via an app that I use at the yards.
Despite my efforts the bees are doing great

Offline Bob Wilson

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2020, 09:08:50 am »
Interesting comments all.
15Member. I will use this half sized notebook I devised. You encourage me in doing it, but I can't help wondering how it will fare with sticky propolis, in spite of what you said. At least I work bare handed whenever I can. That will help holding the pencil. At any rate, it must be done. I have tried a year of writing notes after inspection, and with just 3 hives, I forget too much and get the hives mixed up.
Cao and Jojo. I don't see how you can keep the kind of information HoneyPump suggests, the kind of records that help change your beekeeping choices 11 months later, writing on a piece of tape or the boxtop. You must be better at understanding the reason WHY each particular problem happens, and retain that knowledge longer. No doubt it becomes more clear with more experience.

Offline little john

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2020, 09:29:03 am »
[...]  I don't see how you can keep the kind of information HoneyPump suggests, the kind of records that help change your beekeeping choices 11 months later, writing on a piece of tape or the boxtop.

I think much depends on the number of hives involved. Michael Palmer, who's hive-count runs into thousands, uses tape stuck to each hive, onto which he writes his notes. Those notes are in the form of a cryptic code, and is a system which works well for him. (he's made a video in which he explains how the system works)

Despite having so many hives, with this system he can immediately review the history of each one very quickly - and, 'in the here and now'.  With such an enormous work-load he assesses each hive as it comes, moving progressively from one hive to another.

I'd suggest that for him, a more elaborate system would be counter-productive.
LJ
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Offline The15thMember

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2020, 11:16:11 am »
15Member. I will use this half sized notebook I devised. You encourage me in doing it, but I can't help wondering how it will fare with sticky propolis, in spite of what you said. At least I work bare handed whenever I can. That will help holding the pencil. At any rate, it must be done.
I find that the pencil really takes the brunt of the stickiness.  I have my hives all in a row, so I set my binder on the hive next to the one I'm working, which means I don't really touch the paper a lot with my hands.  The pencil is however another story, and after each day of inspecting I usually have to scrape the propolis off the pencil.  If you have to hold the notebook in your other hand while you write, it's going to be sticky, I'd imagine.  If you have some place to set it while you work, then I don't think it'll be too much of an issue.     
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Offline cao

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #16 on: December 06, 2020, 12:37:23 am »
Cao and Jojo. I don't see how you can keep the kind of information HoneyPump suggests, the kind of records that help change your beekeeping choices 11 months later, writing on a piece of tape or the boxtop. You must be better at understanding the reason WHY each particular problem happens, and retain that knowledge longer. No doubt it becomes more clear with more experience.

I don't claim to be able to keep as detailed notes as  honeypump suggests.  As I am still doing this as a hobby, I don't feel the necessity to document everything.  I don't want to spend the time with 70-80 hives.  You would be surprised how much information on can put on a piece of tape attached to the back of a hive body. 
Also as the hive grows you have more boxes to put tape on.  So you only need to say what is going on in that box.  The main disadvantage is that I need to be at the hive to review the info, but that is what I do just before I do an inspection.  I don't claim to be any better at understanding WHY any problem happens, I just look at the hive and try to anticipate what it will need until I inspect it again.

Offline charentejohn

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #17 on: December 06, 2020, 08:29:12 am »
I only have two hives and don't open them, or I will try not to, so use a simpler system just to remind me of what happened for future reference.  My first year so just wanted a record and writing it down makes me think about it, also helps when I try to remember how long ago things happened.  As I get more used to the hives this will probably reduce to just noteworthy incidents.

I have 4 documents on the PC updated every few days or when someting in noteworthy they are. 
Dear Diary- Just my thoughts on progress and what I find, like thought this would happen but was surprised to find....
Regular observations- What I see around the hives, bearding, pollen collection time of day of activity etc.
Temperature and weather- Just note any hot, cold, rainy spells and their effects. 
Sticky board findings- I do these just for my own info as they have various detritis on them.



   
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Offline Acebird

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #18 on: December 06, 2020, 09:17:39 am »
but I can't help wondering how it will fare with sticky propolis, in spite of what you said.
If I were going to take notes I would have prewritten messages in a list and use a rubber stamp, felt tip or high lighter to indicate what is happening to each hive.  It is hard to write anything when you get all sticky.  Lets face it an 8 sided brick covers most of the conditions of a hive.
Brian Cardinal
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Offline Oldbeavo

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Re: hive notes
« Reply #19 on: December 06, 2020, 05:25:21 pm »
As we paint the top of our lids white, this becomes the note pad. We use a paint pen as alcohol based pens (texta pens) don't last the season.
Just a date and comment. Bottom right corner is for requeen or fizzy comments, both with a date. 2 fizzy comments and the queen is most likely to be replaced.
Top left is where the number of supers of honey we take off the hive, at the end of the season this transfers to the side of the brood box.
In winter the lid is repainted as we consider next year as a new season, we may retain some comment that is put on bottom left of lid, good hive, nice queen, RQ (requeen) next year.
We use codes to save writing
DNFQ-did not find queen
B+E- brood and eggs
S1/2- super half full
At my age notes are essential as we used to put a stick or rock on the lid, only to come back in 2 weeks and stand looking at the hive wondering what the stick was for.