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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ankeny, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    521

    Default What am I looking for when inspecting?

    This is my first year of keeping bees. My best hive has 2 deep 10 frame brood boxes and 1 10 frame honey super on it. Can someone tell me exactly how I should be inspecting, taking the boxes off and removing frames? What should I be trying to find and do I need to inspect every frame in every box? How often should I do this complete inspection?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Hinckley, MN, USA
    Posts
    53

    Default Re: What am I looking for when inspecting?

    It's only my second year, so take this with a grain of salt until a more experience beek chimes in.
    My first year I went in about once a week. Mostly because I viewed my first year as a learning year and I found that the more exposure the bees I got the more comfortable I was around them and I began to develop my methods of handling the equipment and working with the bees.
    Don't bother to look for the queen every time. Look for eggs (learn to see them) and brood in various stages. That will indicate the queens presence and the quality of her laying pattern can also be noted.
    It will also speed up the inspection because as soon as you have seen eggs/brood you know you have a laying queen and should't have to do a frame by frame complete inspection.
    I typically won't go through every frame in every box but once a month or every 6 weeks, especially if you find good brood patterns higher up in the hive. No need to disturb everything if things seem to be going well.
    Look for queen cells. Number and location can indicate some problems in the hive. As to what they all mean and what to do about them, you'll never a straight answer because everybody has their own opinion. So form your own opinion as to what to do with them after reading a lot and consulting with experienced beeks.
    Supers, if they are adding honey and the super is getting heavy add another.
    That in a nutshell is how I operate. There are many many more variables, but it's a start.
    I am ABSOLUTELY sure that others will add more. The classic ask a beekeeping question and get different answers from everybody scenario!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Ankeny, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    521

    Default Re: What am I looking for when inspecting?

    I am not very good at finding the queens anyway. The only one I ever find is my marked queen in one hive.

    Thanks for the tips!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    3,290

    Default Re: What am I looking for when inspecting?

    The first step is to determine what the purpose of your inspection is. What will you be looking for? Have a goal in mind.

    This time of year there is much less likelihood that they will be swarming so your main goal right now might be to confirm that you have a laying queen, and evaluate their stores. Your inspection can be as brief or as thorough as you would prefer. There is no need to go through each box frame by frame, unless you consider it a learning experience and have the time for it. Just be aware that the more thorough your inspection, the more disruptive it is to the colony.

    In just a couple of minutes you can do a quick inspection to evaluate their general condition. First separate the boxes, lift them to determine approximate weight of stores, and you will have a pretty good idea if they are OK or need some help. You could pull a couple of frames if you like to see if they have both pollen and honey stored up. Then you can very quickly check a couple of frames in the center of the brood boxes to see if there is brood. If you find eggs there is no need to try to find the queen.

    Spring will require more thorough inspections and manipulations to stay ahead of swarming, and you will want to inspect more completely in the fall as well to make sure they are set for winter.

    Don't worry too much about what is enough or too much. My first couple of years I was in the hives every week, I think every beekeeper I've talked to did pretty much the same thing. It's a great way to learn, and the bees are tough so they can handle it. Just have fun and learn as you go.
    To everything there is a season....

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
    Posts
    24,495

    Default Re: What am I looking for when inspecting?

    What I look for when looking at my bees and accessing the colony's condition is how much brood there is, the condition of the brood, whether eggs or young larvae are present(meaning the queen is still there and doing her job). I don't spend much time at all trying to find the queen, unless I want to remove her for some reason. I look for brood diseases.

    When I open a hive I have some idea whether there should be honey in the supers or not and if there isn't I look down in the brood boxes to see if something is amiss.

    When I look at the brood frames I decide whether the queen is doing her job and whether AFB is present.

    There are many things one can see when looking into a beehive.
    1. How is the adult population?
    2. How much honey is there in the honey supers?
    3. How many frames of brood are there, capped and open (not capped)?
    4. How well laid is the brood area? Is it too spotty?
    5. Know what sign of a drone layer looks like.
    6. How nice do the cappings of the brood look, or do they look like disease may be present? Learn how to identify the brood diseases, AFB and EFB.
    7. Are there any pests present? SHB? Varroa?


    Those are about all I can think of at this time. I'm sure someone else will add to the list. Mostly it's a matter of experience so one can tell whether something is or may be amiss when one opens the hive. I hope that helps.
    Mark Berninghausen "Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board." Zora Neale Hurston

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Alachua County, FL, USA
    Posts
    6,440

    Default Re: What am I looking for when inspecting?

    You are looking for brood and food.
    You should have twice as much larva as eggs, and twice as much capped (pupal) as larva. All rule of 3s, egg 3 days, larva 2 times 3 days, pupa 4 times 3 days.
    You should have nectar/honey and pollen.
    You should have just enough space to hold food and brood without stressing them with too much to defend and HVAC.

    You should not have too many diseases, pests, and parasites, e.g. Varroa, small hive beetles, foulbrood, chalk brood, sacbrood, wax moths, etc.

    The biggest concern this time of this year is starvation. If you find bees motionless head-first in the cells you should have fed them before they started dying. The queen will also shut down and the workers will eat the eggs/larva when they are starving.
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

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