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Early autumn bee inspection question


Hi guys, i think i’ve got on top of the wasp problem, and am still feeding my bees (I am in the midlands in the UK, and we are just starting to go into Autumn - warm days, cold nights!). I inspected them a couple of weeks ago and saw small amounts of larvae, a couple of eggs and some capped brood - but less than before. They seem to be doing what i would expect for the time of year (i haven’t spotted queenie since i’ve had them home), so wondered whether i should open them up at all?

I am going to be treating for varroa - i have a couple that i have spotted but have been advised to treat anyway, even though there aren’t many.

So should i inspect? if so how often? I would obviously only do it on a warm day, but how often at this time of year and what should i look for?

thanks in advance lovely Beeks!


You could have a quick look to see what stores they have and to make sure they are queenright. As you find it difficult to spot the queen just look for eggs. That will tell you she is there. I think it’s probably too late for thymol so you could use Apivar and do the two jobs at the same time.
As for the next inspection, maybe March depending on your weather.
To get a feel for the varroa situation I would monitor the drop post treatment. You don’t often see mites on the bees till the colony is close to collapse and natural drop is inaccurate.


wow march? ok - i suppose the less they are disturbed the better over the winter. there were very few eggs last time but there were a few, so hoping all is well.

Will do = thanks for your help dee!


I agree with @Dee, providing you have a plan about food stores and whether or not you are going to feed. I would strongly suggest that you get the feel for “hefting” a hive over the winter. Just try lifting and gently tilting it a few millimeters holding the bottom of the stack - if it is heavy, they have food. If it is feeling noticeably lighter, you may need to take the roof off to feed them. They will need around 40lb of honey to last the winter. That is about 4 to 6 deep Langstroth (flow brood box size) frames’ worth (depends on how much the frames are drawn, and how many cells are totally full). I certainly wouldn’t do a full “take down” inspection in the British winter, although some can get away with it.


During the winter, any time I get a day over 50F I go into the hives, but just the top box, to make sure they still have honey. Three deep hives have never needed food but some doubles, all singles, and all nucs need to be supplemented.


Might I suggest you don’t do this in the UK
The bees will have propolised themselves in and this seal will not be replaced in winter.
The way we check stores in the UK is to heft the hives, either by hand as Dawn suggests or we weigh them. It is easy to do with luggage scales, lift each side just off the stand and add the two sides.
When you are satisfied with winter stores after feeding then just use that as a starting weight. If you have two eight frame langs full you will not need to add fondant after Christmas, believe me.
Another useful addition is a see through polycarbonate crown board, then you can keep an eye on the cluster from the top without disturbing them.
On a quiet day put your ear to the side of the box and you can hear them hum


Thanks Dee - i’ve only got one 8 frame box, so will definitely need to supplement their feed. I am still feeding syrup but may move to fondant as it gets colder. Ive got the super to take the contact feeder, is it worth me insulating above the brood box, around the contact feeder?? it might get cold as there is empty space above the crown board when the feeder is on. (does that make sense?!)


Yes insulate around. I do. I don’t like contact feeders as I’ve had them leak but if yours has been ok then keep using it. I prefer a 2 litre round rapid feeder and I top that up daily.


We probably don’t have winters like you guys. Here we only see the occasional -15 c for a low but usually we’re -10c to 7c due to the coastal influence.

Ground Hogs Day 2014 adding more fondant to this small colony (2 deep).


-15 deg?!?! blimey - we don’t get that here!!! it’s unusual to go below -2 in this country in the winter! That would usually be at night. it’s still pretty warm at the minute, so not too worried.

I don’t think i’ve had any leakage - i check the white base board quite regularly and i figured if it was leaking i would see it on that.


Ah…that depends where you live. There is more to England and Wales than South of Watford :wink:


I’m in the Midlands!! That you might get in the north of scotland, but -15 is not normal for the UK?!