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Advice on hive inspection


I am a newbie and just installed my bee package into my bottom brood box last Monday,4/17/17. I kept the queen in her cage for 3 days and then removed the cork on my first hive inspection. I took another look 24 hours later and she was released and I spotted her on some drawn out comb. She looked healthy. Yesterday 4/23/17 I inspected again. My third look in a week. My hive is foundationless and the middle frame with the most comb was about a third drawn out. It was covered in bees. I could only briefly see a cell or two as the bees moved around. I did not see any eggs (not sure if I would recognize eggs) and did not see any larvae. I am now paranoid that I have a nonlaying queen.


  1. How often should I inspect the hive? Am I disturbing them if I look too often?

  2. In looking for proof that the queen is laying should I brush the bees off the comb?

  3. What do I do if I have a nonlaying queen?


I’d check in a week and you’ll probably be able to see brood and eggs.
Here’s one of my newly drawn frames (2011)


Here is a picture of my inspection yesterday. Again, how can I inspect for brood with the comb totally covered with bees?


I have at least two answers to the first question. Inspect them when you are worried about something (swarming, lack of food, pests and diseases, aging queen). Otherwise inspect them once per week during spring and into mid-summer.

Yes, every time you inspect, you will disturb them. Some people say it sets the hive back about 2 to 3 days, because you make them panic and gorge on the food stores they have saved. I am not sure that is the whole story, but I think the concept is valid.

My brush is mostly unused, except for getting very aggressive bees off my bee suit. Bees hate brushes. They get caught in them and damaged by them. Most professionals that I know have learned to shake or “bump” their bees off the comb. If you hold the frame vertically, and shake it downwards over the hive 3 times, most of the bees will fall off. Don’t shake so hard that you break the comb, but you have wired the frames from your photo, so it should be pretty stable. The bees will make a lot of noise for a couple of seconds, but they settle very fast after that, and they are not really upset by it.

Call your package supplier. :blush: It can happen, and usually they will replace her free of charge.


Blow on the bees and they move away


I don’t agree with the inspecting once a week plan. Oftentimes, less is more. You can observe a lot by who you see coming and going from the hive.

Every time you inspect delays and disturbs the bees “morale” and work.


Bungee it depends. Here in the uk weekly inspections from April to end July are absolutely essential or you miss a swarm and your honey crop.


In a foundationless hive how will I know if comb is being drawn out straight and there is no cross combing without inspections? How will I know if the queen is laying? I also plan on adding a second brood box when the first is 80% filled with comb. How will I know when this occurs without inspecting?


Fabulous questions. You know the answer. :smile:


I suspect you and I both know too :wink:

It may not help at all but it’s a good read
At the hive entrance by Storch. Google it as I think it’s available as a free download somewhere though the book is nice to own too.


Where are you located? My club created this great sheet I could email if you send me your email… It really helped me stay on track and not “bother” the girls to much. :slight_smile: NoLongerNurse@yahoo.com


I live in Parkville, Missouri. Just outside of Kansas City. Email: Lbrkcmo@aol.com


You can either inspect as recommended or use one of these:


Inspection today. All 8 frames have comb. The center frames are nearly half drawn with comb. AND most importantly I saw brood. The blowing method worked very well. The bees moved out of the way and gave me a clear view of larvae. Thanks for the tip Dee.

Nicely drawn comb

Uncapped larvae. Yippee!


Beautiful bees too. I love the colouring - so pretty. :blush: Really nice photos, thank you for making the effort to try so hard.


Aren’t they just so yellow :smile:


I bet the queen is Italian/Cordovan. :wink:


I got a package of carniolans. The queen came with the package. I assumed carniolan as well. She is black.

Not a very good picture, but there she is.


Sounds like the right color for a Carnie queen. :smile: The package bees may have been shaken from hives with Carniolan queens, but if those queens were free-mated (likely) the drones could have been Italians, Cordovan etc, and the worker offspring might be a lot lighter than a typical Carnie. Probably doesn’t matter that much, they obviously work hard and it looks like you have a nice healthy package. :wink:


I’d love to get a look at the sheet your club created as well if that would be alright…I love seeing the various recommendations. Email: Petergw10@gmail.com