Inspecting a Honeybee Hive

As I approach any colony of honeybees for any kind of inspection, my observations begin before I open the hive. I keep a written record of every colony, noting the date of the inspection, the weather, the Queen or race of those bees, and number of brood boxes and supers.

I look at the bee’s activity on the front landing board, and in flight. I notice pollen, drones, crawling bees, clusters of bees, or any sign of distress.

If necessary, I may apply a small puff of smoke at the entrance. Then I gently tap the top cover up, and lift it off of the inner cover. I look at the bottom side of the telescoping top and set it bottom side up on the ground several feet in front of the colony. Then I crack up the inner cover and check both sides for the queen and any small hive beetles.

The first frame I remove is usually one of the outermost side frames because that is the least likely place to find the queen. I set that one aside, and spread the remaining frames so I can lift each one without crushing any bees.When I locate the queen, I confine her to a safe cage, and place her aside among some attendant bees. If she is not marked, I mark her at this time.

I record any observations, including supercedure cells, honey and pollen stores, signs of mites, beetles, or other pest, damaged woodware, etc.

When finished with this inspection, I replace the frames and supers, making any changes that are needed. Then I release the queen into the front entrance.