The pile box hive was designed to maximize time and effort with minimal management.
Japanese bees are native bee to Japan. They are resistant to infectious diseases and mites.
They can defend themselves against the Japanese hornet and they can live in cold climates.
Little management is required other than adding boxes as the colony grows.
Additional boxes need to be added as the colony expands.
This must be done before the comb reaches the bottom of hive.
Additional boxes need to be added to the bottom because Japanese honey bees build their comb from the top down.
The next video explains how to add an additional box.
I was little bit late and the comb had reached the bottom. I should have done this a few weeks earlier. Fortunately, this did not cause any problems in this case.
A pile box hive does not have frames, so inspections are limited.
It is almost same as a log hive or skep hive. There are 2 ways of inspecting.
Firstly, you can look inside from the bottom. Secondly, you can observe the bees at the entrance of the hive.
You can take a look inside the hive from the bottom. This is 2 weeks old colony of Japanese honeybees.
Mainly, I check following things.
The next video shows an inspection of a healthy colony. There are many bees and combs are covered by bees.
On the other hand, the colony in next video has less bees. It does not have a queen bee, so this colony is dying. It is not common to combine a queenless colony with another colony.
I check for the following things:
Once a month is sufficient. It is not easy to identify problems in the early stages.
For example, I cannot check if eggs have been laid in the combs in order to know if the queen is healthy.
I can determine that the hive is queenless after the number of bees decreases and many drones appear, but sometimes at this point it is too late to remedy the problem.
In addition to this, it is difficult to combine colonies. Sometimes you cannot save colonies despite all your effort even if you inspect your bees often.
It is easy to split colonies kept in a Langstroth hive in order to increase the number of colonies.
However, it is impossible to do this with a pile box hive, so beekeepers focus on capturing swarms.
It is common to allow bees to swarm as they want, because it is difficult to kill new queens when they are larvae.
Beekeepers set bait hives within 300 meters from a hive which is swarming. They also collect swarms when they find them clustered on tree or elsewhere.
Swarms tend to cluster within 10 meters from the first hive. Many beekeepers attach a board to a tree in order to attract swarms.
Most swarms can be captured or enter bait hives on their own if there are many bait hives and you are keeping an eye on your bees.
It is impossible to capture all swarms and some leave and nest in the wild.
Its descendants may come back to your bait hive in the future.
There is a limited number of colonies in one are due to the quantity of nectar and pollen sources.
Beekeepers have to be mindful of nectar sources and the number of colonies they are keeping.
Many experienced beekeepers can determine whether or not they have sufficient nectar sources.
If they feel that there are not sufficient nectar sources for the number of colonies they capture, they will sometimes give friends some swarms.
It seems that only 25% of colonies can survive for over a year in the wild.
This is due to:
On the other side, roughly 70 % of my colonies (kept in a pile box hive) survive over one year with minimal care.
The reasons that survival rate is much higher are due to:
30% of colonies are lost, but this is considered an acceptable number. I can increase the number of colonies by capturing swarms every spring.
I may save 10 to 20% of colonies if I inspect and manage the bees more. However, it takes a lot of additional time and effort.
I have some obsearvation hive because it is hard to inspect pile box hive.
I have transfered a colony in a pile box hive to the ceiling of a shed.
For more detail, please open the following link.
This hive is made for observation. It is hard to inspect pile box hive.