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 "To float, upheld, as salt water would hold you, once you dared." Denise Levertov, poet