Archives for posts with tag: inspection

Yesterday I checked in on the bees that I captured last Friday. In exactly 4 days, they have drawn comb on 7 bars, they have collected nectar and pollen, and the queen has been busy laying eggs. Bees continue to amaze me.

Just in case you missed it, here’s the swarm capture video.


The weather in Ontario has been so beautiful this week that I was finally able to do a full bottom-to-top inspection of this hive.

When I first opened the inner cover, the bees were everywhere! They weren’t aggressive, but they had no idea what was happening. After a few minutes, they calmed down and got back to work within the hive.

The bottom board was covered with many dead bees from the winter and I believe they may have still been blocking the bottom entrance, so I brushed them all out and removed the entrance reducer that I previously had in place for the winter. I also removed 4 frames from the bottom box, as it contained old, dark comb. I replaced these 4 frames with new foundationless frames.

Working my way back up the boxes and frames, I finally spotted some brand new eggs. It was a great feeling to see tiny eggs after the winter, and to me, this has indicated that I can finally call this a successful over-winter. Better yet, on my 2nd-last frame, I found the Queen herself! She was just trucking along – doing her thing.

I’m very pleased to see such dedicated workers and a strong healthy queen after the winter. It definitely left me with a good feeling after the long, cold winter.

The weather this past weekend was beautiful and I decided to check my hive. The temperature was supposedly around 10 degrees Celsius, but it felt a bit cooler than that. To play it safe, we did not open the hive more than just the outer (AKA telescoping) cover.

The good news is that as of March 30, 2013, I still have bees! (Although I don’t want to speak too soon.) I won’t yet consider this a successful “overwinter” until there is lots of forage available and I’ve seen the next generation of worker born and working.

The bees are still clustered at the top of the hive, and those that are making cleansing flights are doing so from the ventilation that I added in the fall, instead of the lower entrance. I guess that’s OK. I’m willing to bet they’ll return to the proper entrance once things pick up in a few weeks.

I have uploaded a new video to YouTube for your viewing pleasure. Thanks to my cousin-in-law, Ivan, for accompanying me out to the bee yard last week. Although we didn’t see the queen, we got some nice close-up shots of my hive and bees.

This video shows a problem that I encountered during the inspection: One of my unwired wax foundation frames had collapsed. I’m not sure whether it was due to the fact that I forgot to push the frames tightly together when I added the new box, or because of the warm weather we’ve had around here lately.

I had to trim out the comb that was causing problems. Was this the best way to handle the problem? I’m not sure. What do you think? I’d love to know how other people would deal with this.

Anyone who keeps bees will need to perform bee hive inspections. This simply means opening up the hive and checking that everything is hunky dory. During these inspections, every beekeeper should have some basic tools available to handle just about any situation.

I like to keep my tools in a small plastic grocery bin that I bring with me to my beeyard. I call it my hive inspection kit. I built my inspection kit based on the opinions of many experienced beekeepers. Here’s what I recommend for building your own hive inspection kit:

A few items and tools for inspecting bee hives

Must haves

Your hive inspection kit should definitely have the following:

  • A hive tool – A small metal pry-bar to help open your hive and scrape off burr comb and propolis
  • A smokerSmoke calms bees
  • Paper, cardboard – To get your smoker started before adding twigs, pine needles, burlap, etc.
  • Lighter or blow-torch – To light your smoker
  • A veil, bee suit or jacket, gloves – While a full suit is not necessary, a veil is a good idea. A sting to the eye could cause blindness.
  • A log book – Keep logs of your visits to track your hive
  • A bee brush – Handy for brushing bees off woodenware

Should maybe have

The following items would be recommended for some people but not necessarily needed by all:

  • An extra hive tool – In case your first is lost in the grass
  • A folding pocket knife – For quick fixes, making kindling, etc.
  • Commercial smoker fuel – If you’re bad at keeping your smoker lit, use pellets or something that’s sure to keep burning
  • An extra bee suit/jacket or two – Handy for visitors to your bee yard
  • Thumb tacks or push-pinsRead how they helped me and they’re also great for marking problem frames
  • Duct tape – For everything imaginable
  • Frame rest (AKA Frame perch) – Holds your frames on the side of the box while you inspect them
  • A camera – For documenting, blogging, forums, etc.
  • A fire extinguisher – We’re often lighting smokers in dry grass. Fires are a real concern. An out-of-control fire could ruin your bee yard, property, or more.
  • A beekeeping book or handbook – Great for reference
  • An extra hive body filled with frames – In case you need to expand a hive
  • A jar to collect burr comb – I don’t let any bit of beeswax go to waste

Nice to have

These items should be in your hive inspection kit if you’re the type of person who wants to be prepared for everything possible. (Bullet-proof vest omitted).

  • Benedryl – Helpful for bee stings and other allergies
  • Band-aids – Helpful for knicks and scrapes
  • Tooth-picks or match-sticks – For examining larvae for pests or diseases
  • Newspaper – For placing in between boxes when combining colonies
  • Wood shims – For levelling hives
  • Hammer and nails – For quick repairs while in the bee yard
  • Spray bottle of rubbing alcohol – Removes propolis from hands and clothing quickly
  • An extra bottom board and top cover – In case you need to capture a swarm or split a colony
  • A digital fencing tester – For those with electric fences to keep bears out
  • A 5-frame wooden nuc box with handles – Can be used instead of a grocery bin to hold everything and doubles as a quick box if needed

I have omitted very specific pest treatments from this list, but obviously if you’re taking care of a pest or a disease, you’ll likely want extra stuff for that. It’s a good idea to start with the basics and then add specifics as you go. You’ll learn from your bees and past experiences and modify your hive inspection kit throughout the years.

What’s in your hive inspection kit? Have I missed anything above?