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Hive Inspection #2

Second Inspection of my hive today.
Has been eight days since first inspection. Is this too soon, should I wait longer? I don’t want to stress the bees more than I need to.
Felt more confident. Still haven’t mastered the filming…

Didn’t pack the smoker enough, so ran out with two frames to go.
Do much honey on the two outside frames.
Lots of brood. Still didn’t see my Queen, but saw two bees hatching (is this the correct term), this was so exciting :smiley:


When you are inspecting, you need to have a reason (or several) in mind for the inspection. In Spring and summer, it will not only be hive health and brood pattern, but also whether the colony is making swarm preparations. That means looking for queen cells. If you want to prevent swarming, you need to inspect every week. You can get away with 2 weeks, but you may be too late to change their minds at that point, so it can be risky.

In autumn and winter, you may not need to inspect much at all, depending on your climate. If you have year round nectar flow, you will have to continue with one to two weekly inspections. If it gets cold, all you need to know is how the food stores are doing, and whether you need to feed the bees. The less inspecting you do in cold weather, the better.

Eggs hatch into larvae, capped pupae “emerge”. :blush: Good for you for asking though, 99% of beekeepers (of those not in this forum) don’t know the difference. :wink:


Once weekly in the swarm season, much less outside it and not at all in winter.


Thanks @Dawn_SD.
We are in the middle of summer here so hopefully I haven’t disturbed them with my inspection.
My first inspection, I had no idea what I was doing or looking for. This time I wasn’t afraid to move the bees in order to check properly for brood cells, and yes, observe the pupae emerging :clap:t2::clap:t2::clap:t2:

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Dramatic! Those first inspections are exciting :hugs::honeybee:


I know the difference but I still call it hatching.:astonished:

one thing I didn’t know until recently that it is actually the larvae that caps itself into the cell. I just assumed other bees capped it like they do honey- but the little larvae actually spins it’s own silk like cocoon complete with capping! Super clever!

@Annie_Johnstone one thing I have learned is to make sure you get the smoker going well- and overpacked before you start. It is very annoying when it goes out mid-inspection- and if you don’t have it handy you may wish you did if things turn ugly. Also it saves bees using the smoker to push bees awy from areas where you are working- like the edges of the box when you put another box of the lid down. Lately I have been using pine needles at the bottom- I get a goodly fire started down there and wait until I have strong embers. then I add more needles- and then I put a large piece of hessian on top of them. If the smoker is underpacked it can burn too hot and the hot smoke actually angers the bees and probably hurts them too. The hessian stops sparks from flying out and helps to keep the smoke cool. In daylight you can’t see it but in the dark you can see sparks shoot out of the smoker if it isn’t packed right… It is much better to have an overpacked smoker than an underpacked one. Also if it is underpacked it can smoke a lot even when you put it down and end up smoking you as well as the bees. When done well it burns for hours, which isn’t required but is a good sign that it is packed and working well.

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thanks for the tips on the smoker @Semaphore, I will try the hessian next time, I definitely didn’t have it packed tight enough. On my first inspection I tipped the leftovers into the fire pit and there was heaps still in there, This time, It burned to almost nothing.

I might have a practice with it when I’m not inspecting the hive.
I have been using pine needles, this was recommended by the guy from the bee keeping supplies store, so glad to hear it is something others also do.

Like @Semaphore, I use hessian. You can use any fuel you want and pine needles are fine. However, I would suggest you pick one to start with and get confident with it, as all fuels behave a little differently.

The secret with hessian, is to start the smoker lightly packed - I use newspaper, or unbleached packing paper, then put a little fuel in top, and compact it down a little with a hive tool. Once that is catching, I put more on and press it down. Eventually you can get it quite tightly packed and it will last a couple of hours with the right fuel. To avoid wasting unburnt fuel, if you lay the smoker on its side with a cork in the spout, it will go out in just a couple of minutes. You can then reuse the partly burnt contents the next time, putting it on top of the paper fire starter.

I believe @JeffH has a nice video on how to light a smoker on YouTube.

Like Dawn_SD said you really want to have a clear plan of what you want to achieve during an inspection before you go into the hive.
I have only been beekeeping for a bit over 12 months and like most newbies at the very start would have loved to have been opening the hive every day to see what was happening but managed to contain my eagerness. I limited myself to once a week unless I had a very good reason to open a hive.

I now find myself in the hives less and being less invasive when I do. I am not worried about seeing the queen although I have hives where I find her just about every time I have others where I have been lucky to see her twice in a year.
Unless I am planing on doing a split I really dont have a reason to find the queen, Eggs and uncapped larvae let me know she is there or at least was within the last day to week and a frame or two with a nice pattern show she and the hive are doing well.
If I am looking to see if they need more space it is now usually nothing more than popping the lid and seeing if there are bees on the outside frames and maybe pulling the outside frames for a look.
Even my swarm prevention inspections are no longer a check of every frame, just turn the box up a little smoke and inspect the bottom of the frames.

If you really want to find the queen a second set of eyes greatly increase your chances of finding her. I had a hive that had been under performing, decided to do a three way split last week. I always struggle to spot the queen in this hive so dragged my daughter along, she spotted her on the 3rd frame we pulled within seconds.

LOVE the soundtrack, subtitles (whatever those text thingamigigies are called) and video :open_mouth: I was in great suspense from moment to moment lol
Good luck with your next inspection :slight_smile:

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