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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    Default What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    So your hive made it through the winter. The flow has started and your hives are doing great. You add a honey super. What are you looking for during your weekly inspections? Are you tearing the hive completely apart making sure the queen is there, or just looking for eggs? Should I be going through all frames? Trying to get an idea on how much I should be (or not be) disturbing the hive each week.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Jan 2009
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    Cookeville, TN, USA
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    On an overwintered hive:
    1 - evidence of a laying queen.
    2 - queen cells. Looking for them isn't enough, you have to plan what you will do when you find them.
    3 - open nectar. You say the flow is on, so it shouldn't be an issue, but if there is little or no open nectar, then it's time to feed.
    4 - asses brood.
    5 - do they need more space?
    6 - look for signs of diseases, parasites, robbing or other problems.
    7 - count my honey before it's capped.

    Right now I'm going through every frame that is below the excluder every 7-10 days and removing swarm cells. I did that for the third time today, and will probably do it 3 more times before our main flow winds down.

  3. #3
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Weekly?
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  4. #4
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    Jun 2012
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    St. Louis, Missouri, USA
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Weekly?
    This is a good question. Last year I was inspecting weekly (1st year), this year I have been inspecting bi-monthly. How frequently do you recommend? (Keeping in mind for some of us the frequency is a learning aid.)

    Bosco, sorry I'm in my second year so I can't answer your question. I'm interested in the answers though!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Weekly?
    "Right now I'm going through every frame that is below the excluder every 7-10 days and removing swarm cells. I did that for the third time today, and will probably do it 3 more times before our main flow winds down."

    It's a lot of work for a few weeks, but our main nectar flow is over that quick, and to really take advantage of it you need big strong hives before it starts, and then you have to keep them from swarming at least until it ends. But the people who master this system get 1-200 pounds of honey per hive.

  6. #6
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    Dec 2012
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    Sacramento, CA, USA
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    1,856

    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    bosco, I do not recommend you do weekly inspection. One hive I rarely inspect because everything went well on the first full inspection. So I let them bee. However, I do daily or every other day inspection on some of my hives. This is to see how the hive experiment goes along. And the development of the queen cells. So a weekly hive inspection is unnecessary unless you are looking for something specific on this hive. For example, if you are concern about the swarm cells then a biweekly inspection is o.k. Hive coming out of winter will build swarm cells when the time come to multiply. I would be looking for general hive condition to be sure everything is in order. On a first hive inspection it is alright to look at all the frames to get the big picture of things. I only do a full inspection when I'm looking for specific things other than that I just look at the middle 2-3 frames.
    Bottom line is do inspection until you feel comfortable of what's going on. ie eggs, larvae, stores and available space,combs, etc.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Fairfield County, Connecticut, USA
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    3,672

    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    "Right now I'm going through every frame that is below the excluder every 7-10 days and removing swarm cells. I did that for the third time today, and will probably do it 3 more times before our main flow winds down."
    Wouldn't it be just as well to remove the queens to nucs and allow the hives to raise a new queen?
    BeeCurious
    Trying to think inside the box...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Evansville, IN
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    2,505

    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    There are a number of ways to prevent swarming, and I suppose removing queen cells is one, but I'd rather spend less time in the hives. I checkerboarded one hive and reversed boxes on the the other this year, and I don't think my brother's is going to swam because they had a large amount of empty comb on top of the very small band of honey this spring. Needless to say, I'll be checking once in a while, but so far no signs of anything but an occasional queen cup.

    I've been looking into the hives once every couple weeks to check on things, looking for good brood pattern, amount of stores, and today I added a super to my large hive, they had just about filled the one on there with nectar (not capped yet). Looks like it's going to be a good year this year if they have a shallow of nectar before redbud bloom!

    Peter

  9. #9
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    Oct 2011
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    Weekly?
    Mark! Finally, I agree with you!
    I am not experienced beekeeper, but it seems to me that frequent "full" inspection may do more harm than good especially in places where temperature is still low. Also - after any changes, bees need some time for adjustments, adaptation. Somebody from England, I believe, posted that they are required to do full inspection every week! It seems ridiculous to me. I do inspections when I feel it is necessary. Necessity is based on observations from outside the hive and also sticky-board. Since inexperienced, my only hive management is adding new boxes and checkerboarding for swarm control... Also, I have mandatory daily visit to my bees to say "Hello" and often - "G-night." Good luck with your bees!
    Серёжа, Sergey

  10. #10
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    Jan 2010
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    And two more DLF assumed
    pollen or bee bread
    twice as many larva as eggs
    four times as many pupa as eggs
    americasbeekeeper.com
    beekeeper@americasbeekeeper.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
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    Brasher Falls, NY, USA
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colleen O. View Post
    This is a good question. Last year I was inspecting weekly (1st year), this year I have been inspecting bi-monthly. How frequently do you recommend?
    What's your goal? Why r u inspecting? And what do you mean by "inspecting"? Going thru the brood nest one frame at a time? Or checking to see if more supers r necassary? I get hung up on terminology sometimes.

    If you are a newbie, I guess once a week inspections, going thru the brood nest frame by bframe, may be appropriate for learning and becoming familiar w/ the bees and what is going on in there. But, take in mind you will probably kill the colony doing so.

    Once I have done what's needed to get a colony thru swarming season still queenright I stay out of the brood boxes. Every cpl weeks checking to see if more honey supers are needed.

    My "Weekly?" Post was to seek reasons from the OPer about why, Why weekly? Because it seems excessive to me. But I'm not a beginner and have about 500 or so.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  12. #12
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    Mark! Finally, I agree with you!
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  13. #13
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by BeeCurious View Post
    Wouldn't it be just as well to remove the queens to nucs and allow the hives to raise a new queen?
    I have done that exact thing and it works if you time it right, but you still have to keep them from swarming until you split out the queen and you better do a frame by frame inspection a few days after removing the queen or they very well may swarm with multiple virgin queens. Also you have to find the queen in that big strong hive to do the split. In other words it is still a lot of work.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by psfred View Post
    There are a number of ways to prevent swarming, and I suppose removing queen cells is one, but I'd rather spend less time in the hives. I checkerboarded one hive and reversed boxes on the the other this year, and I don't think my brother's is going to swam because they had a large amount of empty comb on top of the very small band of honey this spring. Needless to say, I'll be checking once in a while, but so far no signs of anything but an occasional queen cup...

    Peter
    All that is good stuff, which I do - checkerboarding, box reversal, timely supering with comb - now that I have enough comb to do it. And the truth is I have not found an awful lot of swarminess so far this year - none in my very strongest hive which already has 3 medium boxes full of ripening honey on it. But my second best hive had 20-30 swarm cells in it 9 days ago - inspected it yesterday, and it has not swarmed, and it is also packing in the nectar. And our real flow has not even began.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by sqkcrk View Post
    What's your goal? Why r u inspecting? ....

    My "Weekly?" Post was to seek reasons from the OPer about why, Why weekly? Because it seems excessive to me. But I'm not a beginner and have about 500 or so.
    I was also just trying to answer the OP question - "What do YOU do on your weekly inspections?" Although I did think that the "Weekly?" question from you was directed at me.

    Not trying to say that everyone should be doing the same thing that I am doing. Clearly it is not practical for a commercial bee keeper like yourself - I'm only dealing with a few hives. But it would be practical for one of those people who are complaining that they can only have 3 hives on their lot.

    This method always causes some disbelief when it comes up - including from me when I first heard about it - from a 75 yr old practitioner who continues to make his living this way. Too much work - too hard on the bees - I would never find every cell... This is the first season that I have done it, and I guess I will see how it works out when I harvest honey in June - then the naysayers (including me) will either be proven right or not.

  16. #16
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    Dec 2011
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    Victoria, Australia
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Check every 2-3 weeks during swarm season. Checking that open brood (eggs and young larvae) is at least 1/3 of total brood. (This is why I prefer horizontal hives for easy access.)

    Make sure that there is plenty of empty cells in the brood box. If not, insert an empty frame BESIDE the brood nest, NOT in it. As this can encourage queen cells due to some nurse bees being separated from the queen, even just for an hour or so.

    Also make sure there is plenty of space in the supers to store nectar, alternating frames with drawn comb. Nectar needs to be dried out, so can take up 2-3 times the space of honey.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by cerezha View Post
    I do inspections when I feel it is necessary. Necessity is based on observations from outside the hive and also sticky-board. Since inexperienced,
    Here is the thing - a new bee keeper probably can't tell the difference between a hive that is foraging strongly and one that is being robbed moderately just by looking at entrance activity. If a hive goes queenless (or drone layer) and you only inspect every 2 weeks or more you might be too late to fix the problem before it gets out of hand. Same goes for backfilling the brood nest - 2 more weeks of feeding could trigger a swarm. Out of food? 2 more weeks and the hive can be well along an unfortunate series of events that a beginner might describe as "they got took over by wax moths - or SHB."

    Once you have some experience, and have looked under the lid a bunch of times on a bunch of hives you really can tell a lot by just considering the weather, a quick look - and maybe pulling a frame or three. But if you describe yourself as "inexperienced" ... doing moderate weekly inspections just to confirm a few key points might really be a good idea.

    Mark is an experienced commercial bee keeper - I think an ex inspector? Anyway, he can probably tell more by rolling down his window and smelling the air than you and I can from our best inspection.

    I've been active in my local bee keepers association for several years, and one of our main things is to help new bee keepers get started. My observation is that beginners lose their hives because of not inspecting enough way more often than from inspecting too much.
    Last edited by David LaFerney; 04-23-2013 at 07:26 AM.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Weekly? I inspect them once every four years whether they need it or not. Not really, but weekly is a bit much...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  19. #19
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Quote Originally Posted by David LaFerney View Post
    Although I did think that the "Weekly?" question from you was directed at me.
    I can see how you might think so, but, actually, No. I was replying to the Thread Title. I do that sometimes. Sometimes w/out even reading the Opening Post.

    I understand and see why you do what you do. It works for you, well enuf for you, so keep doing it.
    Mark Berninghausen To combat Ebola, please consider supporting http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org


  20. #20
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    Pepperell, MA.
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    Default Re: What do you look for on your weekly inspection?

    Well. Weekly is fine at first but after a few years and a few more hives its too much. I look for what's wrong and deal with that. I check a few times in the spring and the "every so often". I do spend a few minutes each day watching the entrance. You can tell a lot from watching them come and go.

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