Hive inspections are an essential time for beekeepers to observe closely and to understand more about what's going well or going wrong inside their hives.
Having an organized plan for your inspection and knowing what to look for will improve your inspection's effectiveness and provide better results in your analysis. Things that you want to look for while inspecting your hives are clues about hive wellness like checking for the queen, brood patterns, pollen/honey stores, signs of pests, disease, and overall colony strength. We have prepared a hive inspection checklist for you so you can inspect your hive effectively.
Disturbing your hive often is not the best way to ensure your hives are healthy and thriving. Sometimes, doing a quick inspection can be more helpful. When bees move and work within a hive, they leave chemical trails. Other bees pick up on this, and it helps turn what would be chaos into the organized unit that is a colony of bees. Tearing a hive apart in an extended inspection can be detrimental to the hive, significantly decreasing that day's productivity. It also increases the chances of accidentally killing the queen. Besides productivity, leaving a hive open too long stresses the hive and can create a robbing event, especially during a late summer dearth.
So how do we combat this? Doing a quick, efficient inspection can tell you what you need to know and minimize possible damage to the hive. To be effective at this, you need to be good at "reading" a frame of brood.
If you find any problems during your inspection, you'll need to dive deeper to find more information that will help you identify the problem and take action to solve it. This type of quick inspection is not always the best. Here are some times a more in-depth inspection may be needed:
• In preparation for splits
• During swarm season
• Before going into winter
• When any issues are found during the quick inspection.
- A Note on Inspection Frequency
Every two weeks is the recommendation by most. However, monthly inspections can be fine if you are well-versed in the rhythms of your bees and your area. *(Do not do this early in your beekeeping journey.)
Here are some tips to help you with your inspection:
Have your equipment ready before opening the hive.
Veil and/or Beekeeping Suit
Gloves (if desired)
Remove one of the outer frames and set it to the side.
Gently slide the other frames over until you can remove one of the brood frames.
Avoid changing the order of the frames.
Queen Status (look for eggs to verify)
Healthy brood and Larvae (sufficient brood food, no sunken caps, nice plump and pearly larvae and brood)
Honey and pollen stores present
Pests (Varroa, tracheal mite/nosema signs, small hive beetle, and wax moth)
Diseases (viral: Deformed wings, shiny and trembling bees, larval issues.
Bacterial/fungal: Larval and brood issues)
6. When you're done, gently squeeze the frames back together.
a. Be careful not to slam them together or roll the queen.
Every time you do a hive inspection, be sure to inoculate the newest generation of bees with one of Strong Microbials' probiotics.
SuperDFM®-HoneyBee™ will create a powerful microbial shield against pathogens, molds, and fungi, strengthen the hive's immunity, and ensure strong digestion and nutrition.
SuperDFM®+P801™ is specially formulated to activate a powerful detoxification response to pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides.
SuperDFM®Extend™ is the first probiotic composed of the hardiest bacillus bacteria that can be added to bee feed. SuperDFM®Extend™ will deliver an extended dose of microbial protection against pathogens, molds, and fungi throughout the most stressful times a hive will endure, such as dearth and overwintering.
Here is a video from Strong Microbials' Expert Beekeeper, John Turpin, demonstrating how to complete a quick hive inspection using our Beehive Inspection checklist.