How to do a Hive Inspection

There are lots of instructional videos on how to do hive inspections.  We chose this video for our introductory tour for these reasons:

  1. The instructor shows great technique in removing the frames and examining them. He starts by removing frame 2 or 9 to give himself room to work. He slides the frames out very slowly and smoothly, without upsetting the bees at all.  This is textbook perfect work.
  2. He was very clear on when and why he moves empty frames of drawn comb into the brood area to encourage rapid growth of the hive.
  3. This particular hive and video is a great learning exercise for one of our most frequently asked questions: when should I add another box to my hive?
    • Our standard answer is to do this when 80% of the frames are covered in bees.
    • In this hive, he saw 4 frames of bees in the top box, and 8 frames in the bottom box. That’s 12 frames of bees (60%), so our standard answer for adding a new box would be “not yet”.
    • However, the speaker pointed out that the hive has lots of capped brood (maybe 4 full frames?). He says rightly that a fully populated frame of capped brood will produce 3 frames of bees. This hive will have 12 frames of bees hatching out over the next 10 days, so he concludes now is the time to add a new box.

Note: Spring beekeeping in the Bay Area starts in late January.   You would want to start doing inspections in that timeframe, choosing a day when temperatures are 55 degrees or higher.

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