Brushy Mountain Bee Farm's Resources for Beekeeping, Candle Making, and Soap Making

Bee-Ginner's Guide
Back to Basics
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Back to the Basics

After months of brutal cold in the Midwest and Northeast and the teasing of roller coaster temperatures, spring is finally here. Flowers blooming, bees buzzing, and the sweet smell of nectar will bring a smile to any beekeeper. A welcomed spring is the time for beekeepers to do a comprehensive inspection of their hives.

What is the purpose of a complete hive inspection?

As beekeepers, our biggest job is to understand what is happening inside the hive and make adjustments that are needed. Hive inspections are the opportunity to pull out and examine each frame. Sometimes we are lucky to spot the queen but a beekeepers main objective is to observe what the bees need to succeed.

  • You find that your colony lacks capped honey or their honey stores are non-existent. Apply a feed to your colony until they are able to sustain themselves from the nectar flow. Even then, have a feeder at hand for those rainy days.
  • Your colony appears weak. Reduce the entrance to prevent robbing, add a feed supplement to stimulate brood rearing, and add a brood frame, if available, from a stronger colony.
  • Your queen’s production has not increased. Depending on other factors, your queen may need to be replaced.
  • Your main cluster is in the third super from the bottom. Reversing your supers will place the main cluster on the bottom so they may continue working up.
  • Your colony has bounced back from cold temperature and will soon run out of space. Now is the time to create a split in a NUC or be prepared for a swarm.
  • Your foundation is black from the bees tracking in ‘dirt’. Cull out this old foundation and replace with new.
Aside from visually going through your hive, check your Varroa Mite count. You treat for mites in the fall but inevitably some will survive throughout winter. Keep them in check or it could be detrimental to your colony. Apply treatment if necessary.

Occasionally beekeepers need to manage their hives by completing a comprehensive inspection. This allows you to know what is working or what changes need to be made.