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Hive inspection after 2nd brood box added


I inspected the hive today and my first brood box was nearly full of comb. Good brood pattern and honey. So I added my second 8 frame brood box on top of the first.

My question: Since I know the first brood box is well drawn out with comb and now underneath the second brood box do I need to keep inspecting the first box? It would obviously be more difficult as I would have to lift off the second box and lay it aside with the risk of smashing a few bees. I’d hate for the queen to be in that second box when I layed it aside.


I’m not sure what you mean by laying it aside. All you need is 2 narrow cleats to rest the box on in an upright position. I would always inspect all of the brood. We need to look for signs of swarming, the first signs of diseases such as AFB for example & also make sure that all of the brood frames are in A1 condition.

This is why I like to use only one box for brood.

I have found that while using 2 brood boxes that some colonies will store mostly honey in the top box & brood in the bottom box. Other colonies will fill the top box with brood & mostly ignore the bottom box, filling the frames with pollen & leaving the frames vulnerable to SHB damage. This all depends on the time of season, of course.


Yes, you do. Otherwise how are you going to know your bees’ swarming intentions? Plus diseases and nastiness can hide in any uninspected brood box.

I do it this way. I have a spare flat roof and I put it upside down next to the box I am going to inspect. Next I put the inner cover from the inspection hive (or a spare) inside the flat roof, with the hole in the cover taped over or otherwise closed. The inner cover preserves the bee space below the bottom of the frames, and avoids any queen squishing.

Next I put an empty brood box (no frames) onto the inner cover. As I inspect, I put the hive frames into the empty box. No queen has ever been killed, so far, when I do this. :wink:

When you get to the last frame, you now have an empty box on top - easy to lift over on top the box of frames you just inspected. Then you can go through the next box down in the same way. When you have finished, simply reverse the process.

It takes about 60 seconds longer than not doing it this way, and saves the life of a queen and dozens of workers every time. :blush:


Ok, I obviously have a lot to learn. I’m not sure I could inspect a hive and be able to tell their swarming intentions. When I inspect my hive I look for a good brood pattern and for burr comb. I have tried to straighten some errant comb back into the frame, but that is it. If they were preparing to swarm I would be clueless.


Of course you can. You just look for empty space in the lower boxes, and the presence or absence of queen cells! :blush:


If you read the article linked above (it took me several times, so re-read it when you have time), you won’t be clueless any more. :wink:


Thank you Dawn. I will read the article. I’m sure the article will address it, but if I detect a hive preparing to swarm, how can I stop it?


Hi Brick. Cross that bridge when it gets in your path. If you read the links suggested you know things when you see them. That’s how I learned. Read and look at pictures and movies. Also, if somebody suggests e.g. One broodbox only, still, look at what’s recommended for Missouri. I wouldn’t have a clue. You may need 2.
Go on and be fascinated by your bees. That makes you want to learn more. Find out how bees are kept in your part of the world and then make your own decisions. Handle the bees and learn by observation.
And if you have just one hive, get another asap. It just gets better and inspections aren’t a chore any more.


You must have the gentlest bees @Dawn_SD
I find i had to inspect the bottom box first whenever I had two brood boxes.

As for swarm preparations I think it’s best to have a plan. If you open up and see queen cells that is not the time to wonder what to do.
If swarming preps are in hand then you have to split the colony. Lots of ways to do it but have the extra kit to hand.


Look for queen cups. These are what queen cells are built on. Empty queen cups are common and if you spot any make sure they are empty. If they are then resume your weekly inspections. If you find an egg in one then have a look again in three days. If you see white jelly in one then it is no longer a play cup, it is a queen cell and you need to split. Removing it is not the answer. It may precipitate early swarming before you look in again in a week


This leaflet gives lots of information. I like the method described on page 17.


@JeffH and @Dawn_SD have given you the right advise about a double brood hive and anything I added would just be a repeat of what they have said.
You have not given your location in your profile which is a shame but I see you only have 1 hive, I would advise you to have two as a minimum because of the advantage of being able to switch brood to a weaker hive if needed, if for no other reason.
There is so much information in the forum already for you to read and understand but it is good to ask for help and advise as well.