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How often and how deep to inspect during flow?

1708 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  WWW
I haven't been too diligent to go too deep into my hives while the flow is on. I may crack the tops and pull a super that has just a few bees in them but for the most part I leave them alone so they can work. Am I too passive during the flow or should I go all the way to the bottom deep during an inspection? I don't go looking for eggs, capped or uncapped brood. I hate to disrupt the hive while they are so busy being productive. I guess I'm asking what the guys do that have quite a number of hives. I only have five but if I had 50, I don't think it would be possible to do 50 deep inspections every one to two weeks. Thanks for your replies.
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Once the flow is on I only add supers unless there is an apparent problem. You can tell a lot just by watching the flight pattern in and out and listening when adding supers.
I don't do much for inspecting deep into the hives. I typically pull the outer and inner cover, take a look at how full the top super is, and either add another super or close things up. I am at 9 hives, with 2 more packages coming this weekend. I don't care to get much bigger, so I'm ok if they swarm and I lose a few. If there seems to be a problem, I will look deeper into the hive.
Until Sunday afternoon I was doing what hilreal and leonardS were doing, however when my best most productive hive swarmed on me I'm quickly changing my thinking.

In Alabama our flow has been tremendous and my overwintered hives are really packing the supers. Unfortunately, my best producer was also packing the brood nest too. I was doing more passive management this year by just watching the outside activity and making sure the bees had room by adding supers. It never occured to me that they were backfilling and you cant tell that without getting in there to make sure. Too late for me.

There is still a little brood, eggs and larvae remaining and I found two queen cells. I removed 5 frames of honey and replaced them with empty foundation, but now I'm not sure what to do. Order a new queen or wait on the new ones? I wish I had been a little more proactive. Live and learn I guess.
"There is still a little brood, eggs and larvae remaining and I found two queen cells."

Sound like you dont need to do ANYTHING. Looks like the bees know what to do.
I had one of my two better producing hives swarm also. I caught them in one of my peach trees and hived them. I'm sure I took a loss on production on that hive and I'm also pretty sure they backfilled. I actually look into the top of the upper deep and saw everything drawn out beyond the frames. But...I did this after they swarmed. Maybe I should have been a little more hands on but it is what it is. I'm thinking if I get home in time this afternoon, I may rearrange some frames to open up the brood chamber also. I don't use excluders so they could have moved up some but I don't think they did.

I fly into Ft Wane from time to time. I love the cookes the ladies give as you get off the plane. Southern hospitality in Ft Wayne. Love the small town feeing. Our home office is 60 miles west of you in Milford.
Well in my opinion, all of the beekeeping that is done before the flow is to get your hives to a strength that will produce a lot of honey but not swarm. When I put honey supers on I don't look in the brood area again unless something is wrong. Moving honey supers off and going through brood frames looking for swarm cells would be way too much work for me since it would have to be done at least weekly.

I understand that there is a fine line between maximizing honey production and swarm control. Plus we are playing the odds because not all hives act the same. A swarmed hive gives me nothing for the year since we have one flow. So I tend towards more space in the brood area when the supers go on. 20 years of doing this help too, but I try to be right 90-95% of the time (one out of 10-20 will swarm anyway).
Look in the top box. If it's not empty throw on more supers. A lot more supers...
I find it best to do the hive inspections starting in early spring before the flow begins, at which time the condition of the hives can be assessed and action can be taken to correct problems and colony strength can be balanced among the hives leading up to the spring flow, once the supers are on I let out the reigns and let the horses run.

If a problem is detected during the short spring flow where I live then there isn't much that can be done to change the amount of harvest you receive from that hive and removing supers for flow inspections is for the young. :)
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