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Bee scales are important simply because weighing your beehive is an excellent and unobtrusive way of monitoring how your bees are currently doing.
While it is important that you keep tabs on the bees, there are times when it is also a must that you give them the space that they need.
Bees never take it kindly all the time if their hives are opened up, particularly if you do it every single day. Most of the time, you will want to have a good idea of how the production of honey of your colony is coming along. However, taking out and checking each frame could be a stressful experience not only for your bees but also for you, the beekeeper.
Weighing your hive with the use of bee scales can give you a pretty much good idea of the amount of honey or the number of bees inside. Since every worker contributes ½ tablespoon of honey at most in their life, this can also give you that wonderful sense of gratification and fulfillment for the excellent work of the entire colony.
Importance of Weighing Your Beehive
Why do you need to care about the amount of honey that the bees have? Overwintering is by far that one extremely important reason. It is not possible for bees to go outside when the weather is cold so they just rely on their honey to stay warm and fed. Depending on the area where you live and the winter conditions that it gets, your bees require a specific quantity of honey stores for them to make it through winter.
Weighing the beehive in the fall will let you know about the honey supplies of your bees and if you have to start giving them syrup so they can survive up to spring season.
Weighing using bee scales is also important during other seasons of the year. When there is a honey flow, it is important to check daily or every two days to keep track of the amount of honey being produced by the bees. Their speed might actually surprise you.
If you conduct regular weighing and you experience a swarm, you could weigh again so that you can determine the number of bees that you lost. A pound approximately has 3,000 bees. For instance, the usual 3-pound package of bees contains 10,000 bees.
How to Weigh a Beehive
How should you weigh your beehive, then? There are actually not a lot of commercial options when it comes to weighing beehives. Tilting is one very cheap and easy way used by most beekeepers.
Tilting is done best for the simple reason that beehives are quite heavy. It is possible for a large full hive to weigh as much as 300 pounds. You can save yourself a lot of trouble and anguish when you tilt your hive and just measure one side at a time.
You might want to buy sturdy spring-type bee scales that could handle lots of weight. Tilt the hive with care to one side then slide the bee scale under it. Take note of the weight. Repeat the same process with the other side then add these two weights. The sum total must be more or less the hive’s weight.
Now, why can’t you just measure a certain side then multiply this by two? Well, this is because bees don’t build symmetrically all the time. If you end up weighing a light or heavy side, you will not be able to get a good reading.
Is the weight going to be exact? Well, not exactly. Bee scales don’t truly support half the weight of the hive every time but most beekeepers already consider it as close enough.
You will be able to get a similar effect if you lift from above using a strong luggage scale or that kind of scale where you can hang a suitcase from. After attaching a screw to the opposite sides above your hive, just tilt up each side by the scale then add together the two weights. Just ensure that you strap all of the boxes together first to ensure that you don’t only weigh the top one.
For those who prefer a better accuracy compared to what the tilting method can offer, you might be able to lift up the entire hive to bee scales. If you feel strong, you could attach a really durable strap to the beehive then lift the whole thing on the bee scale. Of course, this will depend on the number of bees, number of boxes, volume of honey, comb, brood, and propolis.
If you don’t feel that strong, you can also open the hive up and lift every individual box on the scale. This is more accurate and certainly much more manageable compared to lifting the whole thing. However, the only downside is that it will mean that you need to open the hive and disturb the bees.
What is the Ideal Weight of a Beehive?
What will you do with the data that you collected, then? If you are measuring when there is a honey flow, you could just be amazed and dream of the honey that you will soon collect. You might want to take a reading daily or every two days so that you can monitor the progress.
If you will measure during fall to determine if your colony is ready for winter, things might be a bit more complicated. For one, this will depend a lot on where you live. Your colony will need more supplies if your winters are longer and colder. Bees in extremely warm climates can survive on just 40 pounds of honey.
However, if your place gets real winter, you might want to leave 80 to 90 pounds of honey during fall. But, if you are weighing a hive, you are not only measuring honey. It is also important to consider the weight of the comb, the hive, and the bees.
With the help of bee scales, you will be able to monitor your beehive easily.