One of a common questions among new beekeepers is how often do I need or can inspect my hive? Although I believe that the only way to learn practical skills is to “go there and do it”, we also need to take into account how inspections affect a bee colony. Here is an interesting data from research conducted by V.I. Lebedev:
Correlation between strength and productivity of colonies and frequency and duration of inspections.
|Frequency of inspections||Weight of bees in colony before main nectar flow, kg||Honey collected per colony, kg|
|Every 6 days||3.3||20.3|
|Every 12 days, with detailed inspection of every frame||3.6||23.1|
|Every 12 days, without detailed inspection||4||24.9|
|4 times per season||4.4||29.2|
As we can see from the data, the correlation is quite obvious. Inspections, particularly detailed when beekeeper removes every frame to check it, disrupt colony function quite significantly. As a result, colony produces less brood and collect less honey.
Does it mean that a new beekeeper must avoid often inspections? I do not think so. It is the way we learn beekeeping. But be prepared to pay for this knowledge by having a weaker colony and less honey. Later, with more experience gained, frequency of inspections could be reduced to a number really required for servicing colony. But for a beginner, I believe, knowledge is more valuable in the long-term.
Also, it pays to learn how to evaluate colony condition by observations at hive entrance and by inspections without pulling every frame out.
A good book on external observations: At the Hive Entrance: Observation Handbook by H. Storch.
Questions from me to everyone. What other sources of knowledge on the subject we may add to this book? What techniques do you use to minimise colony disruption during inspections?