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Making the Connection!

On March 24, 2020 we went out to one of our colonies to run a cadre of Apivox tests. The time was about 1:30 pm, CST, temperature was about 68F. Our goal, was to determine the status and stability of this colony; is the colony already in Swarm Mode? If so, how far into Swarm Mode are they? Here are the "snap shots" we took from our Apivox readings. We've also included the link to the video we filmed the next day (at the end of this lesson), as we preformed a Taranov Shook. Have a look, and "make the connection". Please review these Apivox readings BEFORE watching the video?

The purpose of this page, is for you to actually SEE the very same readings I saw on the Apivox, and then SEE the very same frames I saw as I did the Taranov Shook. You're goal? To "make the connection" between the READINGS on the Apivox, and the CONDITION inside the colony. Apivox, is stunningly accurate.

Also, I am using a Samsung Galaxy E tab, to run my Apivox app. The tablet is synced to a Bluetooth ear bud, which is slipped into the front of the porch about 1 inch. I stand behind the colony to take my diagnostic readings. 

Apivox will tell us if the colony is in Swarm mode. A nice 3 week heads up before they leave.

The first test I ran, was "Swarm Control". Best performed between noon and 2pm. Have a look at the dials. Red! This is not good, and tells me that many mature bees are "passive", meaning that they should be in the field, but are not. The needles are very solidly in deep Red territory, and I'm now concerned. But I need to run another test, for a deeper look.

The General Condition mode gives us an overall view on how the colony is doing. A very important test.

The next test I run is called "General State Control". In order to run these tests, the white buttons are tapped, and they turn Blue. This turns the test function "ON". Tap again, to turn OFF, goes back to white. Note the "5x15sec" button on the right. I chose this "timed test". In other words, I told Apivox, I want to run "General State Control" test and I want to run 5 sound samples, each lasts 15 seconds (5x15sec) and at the end Apivox averages these results and gives me a bar graph and verbiage below. I see a high white bar at 150 hz, indicative of heating & venting, possibly for raising Queen cells. I also see a high blue bar at 200 hz, indicative of Passive bees, which is not good. I also see a high 250 hz, which reflects a feeling of Queenlessness. Any time we have a change out of a Queen (swarming, supercedure), the girls take on a sense of feeling Queenless. Sometimes, this feeling is very intense, and shows up in a very high blue bar at 250 hz. This 250 hz bar is rather low, but it catches my attention. I also take the time to read the verbiage in the Dialogue window below. Notice, Apivox actually tells me that there is likely Queen cells present or started. This catches my attention as well. I need to run more tests.

Apivox will also tell us how the girls feel about their Queen and if she is at home ....or not. Another beneficial acoustic test.

The next test I run, is a "Queen Readiness" test. Bottom center. I tap the button, let the needles settle in. Read the verbiage in the dialogue window in the middle. The left dial draws my attention. It should be Green, if the colony is stable. It's solid Yellow. Something is changing. The "mood" of the colony, toward their Queen is changing. The right dial tells me how "strongly" they feel about this "mood". A change is taking place. Remember, any time there is a change of a Queen, this is a very stressful event for the colony. My mind shifts to; But are they building Queen cells yet? And if so, how far along are they? Now, I'm very curious!!

Longer tests can yield excellent data about how the colony is doing.

The next test I run is, "Brood Control". Here, I want to know, if they've simply stopped building any brood, or are they still caring for brood. This is a "timed test" and can last up to 1.5 hrs, if I wanted to do so. I simply want a good reading. So I tap the button to turn the test on. I set the tablet under the colony in the shade and walk off to do more chores. I'll come back a bit later. I run this test for about 15 minutes. Coming back, I have a close look at my readings. The graph is divided horizontally by a red line. The plotted white line appears stronger on the bottom side, "Brood Quantity is Insignificant". The further DOWN this white line goes, the stronger the feeling. We're not too far down off the red line in the middle. This tells me that there's brood still present, but the girls aren't really pushing hard to care for what's there. This could mean they're about to leave, since their thoughts are else where; like looking for a new home!

Swarming doesn't happen in a 24 hr period. It takes about 3-4 weeks for the colony to rally up and leave. Apivox will give us a 3 weeks heads up before they leave. Plenty of time to make the required adjustments.

I decide to jump back over to the "Swarm Control" test, and have another look. How consistent is this signal that I'm seeing? I let the needles settle down and they go into deep Red territory, .....again! The girls are very serious about swarming!

Remember, I gained all this info, WITHOUT having to open the colony!

Now, I put my Apivox away and I want to do a "thump test". I use my "SpyEar" and get on my knees. Holding the "SpyEar" up under the screened bottom board, I give the side of the colony a good THUMP with the base of my palm. I hear a small mild hiss. I thump again, nothing! I thump again, nothing. One more time, ... nothing! This IS NOT good. This tells me that the colony has "mentally abandoned" the house, and they see no need to give a "defensive" report of ownership. What I hope to hear, is a very high, fast, sharp hiss. It lasts about 1/5 of a second. It's very loud, and unmistakable. This means, "Hey! We own the house, and we aren't going anywhere any time soon. Leave us a lone!". This, is my BENCH MARK. Anything off of this "bench mark" is to be questioned.

What does a colony sound like, when it's stable? When it's beginning swarm mode? Or when it's about to leave? Did you know that the bees will TELL YOU ahead of time?

Look at the diagram above. When I thumped this colony, I heard the example on the bottom row, far right, on the first thump. The next thumps I gave, the colony was quiet. They're about to leave!

Is this you? Are you confused about your bees and beekeeping? You're not alone.

You can find the "SpyEar" on Ebay. Enter "SpyEar" in the Ebay browser. This is what you're looking for. Highly sensitive to sounds. A kids toy. We want to hear the "Quality of the Hiss". Very important.

Spy Ear is a toy. Found on Ebay. But very sensitive to sounds. And very worth using, when we do

So my "audio tests" are complete. I now know that the colony is definitely in "Swarm Mode", and something must be done before I lose these Bees. Remember, I did my "audio tests" on March 24, 2020, around 1:30 pm. So I decided, I would set up for a Taranov Shook, for the next morning, March 25, 2020. I had a lot of equipment to set up early that morning, around 9am. After the equipment was in place, I waited until about 10:45 am, when temperatures where about 61F. I didn't want to "chill" the bees and brood, I only wanted them to be a bit sluggish. And here is the video I took of this event. I was by myself filming this lesson. For some reason, the camera stopped filming at about the 53 min mark. Don't know why. (I think it was the darn bird, that decided to perch near the camera! A loud little fart too! Sorry) You didn't miss much. I simply used my FEATHER to sweep the bees up the ramp and slid the hood over onto the box. So please watch this video closely, and "make the connection" between what we saw on our Apivox readings and the thump tests that we just reviewed. Have a look & listen! Make the connection! If you can't see this video pane, here's the link;

Taranov Shook lesson

We want to take away the desire of the colony to swarm. By shaking frames of bees onto the ramp, we naturally separate the Field bees who have previously oriented to their Parent house. This leaves t...

So, after it's all said and done, I want to know, where does the colony fall on Eddy Woods Timeline? How close where they to swarming away? Have a look at the diagram below. See the big RED arrow pointing downward. That's where I feel the colony was on the timeline. They had one capped Queen cell and several uncapped, WET Queen cups. They had just started capping over Queen cells. Once the Queen cells are capped over, they'll leave. This is the last chore that the colony has to do before swarming away.

Eddy Woods timeline. Do you know what this is and how to use it? If not, you should.

My final thoughts & review;

  • Apviox said that the colony was already in Swarm mode. True!

  • Apivox said that the colony was feeling a bit Queenless, or stressed. They could be changing out a Queen, or Swarming. True!

  • Apivox specifically said that there could be Queen Cells present and swarming was a strong possibility. True!

  • The "thump test" revealed that the colony had already mentally abandoned their home. No defensive hiss was given. True!

  • (The Beekeeper wanted to shoot a bird! True! Very true!)

  • Apivox also indicated that there was still brood present, but that the bees weren't pushing hard to care for them. True!

  • Since we performed a Taranov Shook, we were able to inspect each frame, confirm any Wet or Dry Queen Cups or Cells. True!

  • We were also able to shake out the Bees and force the colony into a Swarm ball at the end of the ramp under the hood. By so doing, we push the colony into a Swarming scenario, and take away this desire to want to Swarm. True!

  • The Taranov Shook puts the Beekeeper in more control over the colony, versus being on our heels, and chasing down a Swarm. Very True!

  • By performing quiet Apivox acoustic tests, we were better able to ascertain the colonies current "condition"; stable vs unstable. True!

  • This colony, was very UNSTABLE and ready to swarm! True!

  • ....have I completely and thoroughly confused you? possibly true!

We hope we have your attention now. If you'd like to learn more about the "Apivox Smart Monitor", please go to our "Acoustic Beekeeping" page and learn more. Be sure to watch the videos on this page.

If you would like to plug into our private Coaching & Support service, we still have some openings for new students. This is our #1 most popular service, called the "Personal Adviser Program", and well worth considering. Have a look. If you have questions, please give us a shout.

And finally, did you "make the connection"...yet? If not, go back and do this lesson again. Remember, we gained ALL OF THIS INFO, without ever having to open the colony for a VISUAL inspection. We only gain about 10% of our info about the colony thru VISUAL inspections. The remaining 90% comes from the "vibration signals" that the colonies gives off, about their world inside.

Thank you for taking the time to study and learn. We hope we raised your "Bee IQ" a few more notches.

Sincerely, Ken & Kelli Davis

P.S. Tell me again, ....what do you know about Honey Bees?

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