How to Inspect a Beehive
For a beginning beekeeper just starting to fly solo, learning how to correctly inspect your beehive is essential. Dissembling the hive can be intimidating, but it takes only a few tries to get the hang of it. Once you know how, you can avoid damaging the hive, hurting bees, and getting stung.
Accessing the Hive
Remove the outer cover of the hive and place upside down on the ground.
Remove empty hive body and place on outer cover.
Gently pry apart inner cover off with the hive tool.
Lift inner cover a couple of inches and puff in some smoke with the smoker.
Close the inner corner again for a couple seconds, then remove it.
Gently pry honey supers apart with hive tool and puff smoke between them.
Remove honey supers one at a time and stack them on the outer cover.
When you get to the queen excluder, remove it and place it upside down on the honey supers.
Pry brood chambers apart and place upper chamber on excluder behind hive.
Inspecting the Hive
Begin inspecting bottom chamber.
Push all the frames to one side by using your hive tool and bracing it against the side of the first frame.
Insert hive tool between frames #1 and #2 and pry them apart.
Begin inspecting frames, starting with frame #2 to avoid rolling bees.
Hold frame by its top corners, over the hive body.
Inspect both sides of frame, making a mental note of queen presence and quality, and amounts of pollen, sealed and unsealed brood, and signs of disease.
Repeat with all frames in bottom chamber, then inspect upper chamber.
Reassemble the brood chamber, using the hive tool to push frames #3-#10 to one side, and place frame #2 between #1 and #3.
Restack all hive bodies and covers, and smoke the bottom of each body before placing it on the hive.
- The sequence of bodies and covers should be the same as what you started out with.
Replace outer cover and weigh it down with a brick or something similarly heavy.
- If you notice signs of queen problems in your colony, such as a roar or wing fanning from the bees (indicating the queen is absent), spotty or bullet shaped brood (indicating poor queen quality), you may decide to replace the queen. If you notice signs of disease such as unusual brood pattern or sunken brood caps, sanitize your equipment immediately. For both, refer to an appropriate source for directions on what to do next.
Video: Hive Inspection Part 1: General Principles (...and a queenless hive?)!
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