What are you inspecting for? If the hive is suspect of AFB or EFB it is easier to shake the bees off the comb to see all cells. Any other type of inspecting I just look through the bees and will blow on them to get them moving if I need to view inside a few cells(looking for fresh eggs to verify the hive is queen right).
Beeslave has it absolutely right. It depends on what you're looking for.
Foulbrood or any of the brood diseases, it's easier to shake (or brush) the bees off the comb. Likewise, if you're grafting queen, it's easier to work with a frame sans bees. A light blowing on the bees will get them to move if you're just trying to see eggs or to scatter a clump of bees that the queen may be hiding under. Otherwise, you can see through them if you're wanting to know if it's a frame of honey, pollen, brood, empty, or a combination there of.
Getting the idea that there's NO absolutes in beekeeping?
Just like Beeslave and BigDaddyDS have said, I usually look through the bees and/or gently blow on them, sometimes I gently poke or push them with my finger tips to see if a queen is hiding under small clusters.
But if I'm checking for queen cells, that I plan to destroy, I will give the combs a gentle shake to remove enough bees to more clearly see if they are hiding any rouge queen cells.
I will shake almost all the bees from a comb I intend to graft from.
Quite true. I had to practice quite a bit before I could shake gently enough. And I do, still, sometimes brush for grafting. But it's a good thing I don't graft from any hives that are AHB. Even gentle brushing can really get them after you. Heck, just about anything can get them after you. Even their swarms are usually quite defensive.
In my first post, I should have mentioned AHB. Don't blow on AHB, be careful how you brush AHB. Shaking AHB isn't so bad, if you like the air filled with defensive flying bees, It's almost impossible to shake AHB from the combs and have them alight and for any to stay where you shake them. Generally 90+ % of them take to the air immediately once they are dislodged from the comb. With AHB you can usually look past the bees to the comb because they are running madly around on it (leaving temporary openings), or have simply run off of it, to cluster on its edges to drip in clumps on the ground like water.
Thank goodness I rarely have to deal with strongly AHB colonies, any more.
With experience, you will know brood from nectar from honey as you are lifting the frame. Each is heavier from brood to honey. A little smoke will scatter them enough without alarm or taking flight. The less you can disrupt their lives the less they will disrupt yours with removing stingers.
Thanks for all the input on this thread, I did an inspection today, no smoke spray or veil. The frames that were thick with bees I raised up to my face and gentle blew on them. It works great without them getting excited or angry they just moved over a bit.
Careful blowing on bees without a veil, they are hard wired to seek out sources of CO2 when in defensive mode. One of the few soft spots on bears and may other varmints is where the CO2 comes out and the bees are adapted to exploit this.
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