Colony inspection

Jan050006 (1024x768)If the temperature rises above about 15 degrees Celsius, carry out a detailed inspection and record your findings.

You can carry out an inspection of your hives any day it is warm and calm. A temperature of 14 to 16 degrees is ideal.

The aim is to ascertain whether

  • there is a queen who is laying worker eggs at a reasonable rate

  • there is enough food to last through a period of bad weather

  • there are any diseases or pests which need urgent treatment

  • the frames in the hive are arranged correctly to allow for a rapid expansion in population.

What you do

Why you do it

Light your smoker and make sure it is going well, producing a cool smoke.

Smoke calms bees and makes them less likely to sting. Smoke needs to be cool so it doesn’t damage bees,

Stand behind the hive.

If you stand in front, bees will attempt to defend the entrance and also collect on you.

Give a few puffs of smoke at the entrance.

Any guard bees at the entrance will retreat. The smoke will mask any alarm pheromone.

Lift off the roof and put it upside down to one side.

It will form a useful surface on which to place the rest of the hive components.

Ease the crown-board off using your hive tool and place it on the roof. Smear petroleum jelly on any touching surfaces to stop them sticking.

This will stop the bees propolising the surfaces together and will make future inspections easier.

Loosen the end frame or dummy board. Check there are no bees on it and place it outside the hive.

This makes inspecting the remaining frames easier.

Loosen the next frame, lift out carefully without rolling bees, check and replace.

You are looking for food stores, brood and eggs.

Repeat for all the frames. Push the frames together back into position. Replace the first frame or dummy board.

The spacing between frames needs to be correct so that the bees build comb evenly with no extra brace comb between them.

Replace the crown-board and roof gently without squashing bees.

Make a note of your findings in your record book.

At your next inspection you can compare notes to see if the population is increasing as you hoped.

 

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