Weigh Your Beehive with a Beehive Scale
Why is it important to weigh your beehive using a manual beehive scale or a more high-tech one that uses a mobile app? The answer is simple. Weighing your beehive is an excellent unobtrusive way of monitoring how your bees are doing.
As a beekeeper, you surely know how important it is to keep a close eye on your bees. However, there are also times when it is equally important to give them the space they need.
Just like how humans value their privacy, bees also don’t take it kindly sometimes when you open up their hives, even more so if you do it every single day.
While it is only natural that you would want to have a good idea of how the honey production of your colony is coming along, taking out and checking the frames can cause significant stress for everyone involved, not just your bees but even yourself, the keeper.
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Weighing the beehive
It can give you a good idea of the amount of honey or the number of bees living inside. Since every worker contributes up to 1 ½ tablespoon of honey throughout their life, this will give you an amazing sense of fulfillment for the colony’s hard work.
Why do you need to care about the amount of honey produced by your bees, you ask? One extremely important reason for this is overwintering. Bees can’t spend time outside when the weather turns cold. During this time, they stay warm and feed on their honey. Depending on how hard the winters are and where you live, your bees require a specific amount of honey storage to make it through winter.
Weighing your hive during the fall will let you know how the honey supplies of your bees are and if you need to begin feeding syrup to them to help them survive through spring. Weighing is also useful in other seasons of the year. During a honey flow, checking can be done every day or two to monitor the amount of honey produced by your bees. You might be amazed at the speed of these tiny workers.
If you experience a swarm and weigh regularly, you can also weigh again so you can get a good sense of the number of bees you have lost. Every pound roughly has 3,000 bees. A typical 3-pound package of bees, for example, has about 10,000 bees.
What are the different ways to weigh a beehive, then? Surprisingly, commercial options are fewer than you think. Tilting is the easiest and cheapest way that many beekeepers use.
Now, you might be wondering why tilting is a great method to weigh your beehive. Well, the answer is simple. Beehives can be very heavy. In fact, a full big hive can reach a maximum of 300 pounds. You can save yourself from lots of anguish if you just tilt the hive and just measure it one side at a time.
For this, all you have to do is get a beehive scale or a durable spring-type bathroom scale, instead of a digital one, that can handle heavy weight. Tilt the hive carefully to one side then slide the scale under it. Take note of the weight. Follow the same steps for the other side of the beehive. Add the two weights together to get a good idea of the total weight of the hive more or less.
At this point, you might be wondering why you cannot measure just one side and then multiply the number by two. This is simply because bees don’t build symmetrically all the time. You will never get a true reading if you just weigh the heavier or lighter side alone.
Does it mean that the weight will be exact? Well, not really. The scale doesn’t really support half the weight of the hive every time. However, for most beekeepers, it is already close enough.
You can also achieve the same effect if you lift from above using a sturdy luggage scale or the type where you hang your suitcase. All you have to do is attach a screw to both sides of the top of the hive. This will let you tilt both sides up using the luggage scale and then get the sum of the two weights. Just don’t forget to strap together all the boxes first or else, you will end up weighing the top one alone.
If you prefer a better accuracy than what you can get from the tilting method, you can try lifting the entire hive onto a beehive scale. Depending on your strength and how many boxes you have, the number of bees inside, and the volume of propolis, comb, honey, and brood, you can simply attach a very sturdy strap to your hive and then lift the whole thing on your beehive scale.
But if you don’t feel that strong, you can also open the hive and then lift every individual box on the scale. Doing this is more manageable and accurate compared to lifting the whole thing. However, it also means you need to open your hive and disturb the bees inside.
Other Hacks for Weighing Your Beehive
If the first two methods feel a bit heavy, well, that’s just what they are. Many beekeepers try to develop easier and less backbreaking methods of weighing their hives.
A good example is a clever tool called Pry Scale which uses the basic tilting method concept. You need to pry your hive from its bottom board and tilt it a bit. You can use a luggage scale attached to wire and pulleys to measure the weight.
Another tool that real beekeepers developed is Bee Weight which also builds off the tilting method. A wooden dowel is inserted below the hive and tilts the hive a bit with a lever, or an attached luggage scale that can measure the weight.
Of course, there are also other high-tech solutions to your weighing problem. If you don’t want to disturb your bees, you can also use these solutions that are often connected to a mobile app for easy and seamless monitoring of your hive’s weight.