We completed our first hive inspection this afternoon. The weather has been nice and warm all day, so we figured that now would be as good of a time as any to crack open the hive and check on the girls. It’s been a week since we first moved them into the hive and it was time to see how things have progressed. Up until now we had resisted opening the hive to check on things, but had seen a lot of pollen going into the hive which is a good sign.
According to Beekeeping in Western Canada, during a hive inspection, you’re looking for four things:
- fresh eggs: if your queen is present and healthy, new eggs should be present
- consistent brood pattern: check for capped cells and consistent appearance (if it’s spotty, you might have an ailing queen or disease could be troubling the brood)
- sufficient pollen, honey and space
- any signs of disease
We opened the lid to the hive and gave a few puffs of smoke at the entrance and across the top bars. The bees seemed pretty calm and not too agitated, so we started from the back of the hive and worked our way to the front, pulling out each top bar and examining the comb. There was new comb on 3 of the top bars already which is a good sign. The bees had also built up the comb around the frames we had tied to top bars that originally came out of the nuc, stabilizing them. It appeared that fresh nectar and pollen were being stored and we also saw uncapped larvae at the bottom of the comb which should be less than about 6 days old, so that is a good sign that the queen is still laying. We didn’t see any eggs, but the bees were covering most of the comb and our untrained eyes couldn’t pick them out yet. As we saw the queen on one of the combs we checked, we’re not concerned about her and hopefully we’ll continue to see new brood in subsequent inspections.
We’ve seen a lot of baby bees around the hive (they are very fuzzy and can’t fly yet) and almost every bee that returns to the hive at the end of the day is loaded down with pollen, so everything seems to be going well so far! We’ve given them some extra space to work with and hopefully we’ll see more combs being drawn over the next couple of weeks.
We have a short video showing the removal of a top-bar posted on youtube.