So you got your bees. Hooray! Now what???? My first year as a beekeeper was a confusing one. I took a class and read a lot of books, but there was still one big question left unanswered - What does the beekeeper actually DO?
Luckily, this is an easy question to answer because, at the most basic level, it's really simple - you do an inspection.
What does an inspection entail and how do you know if you're doing it right?
Download our inspection sheet (the form is below) and fill it out when you open your beehive. Once your sheet is all filled out, you can close up the hive and your inspection is complete!
Ok, that's not always all there is to do. Sometimes there's a problem and you'll have to do some detective work to figure out the solution, but the first step is doing the inspection and seeing what the bees are up to.
Not sure what you're looking at when you open a beehive? Check out our video on how to read a frame. It breaks down all the things you'll see.
Don't forget to download our Identification Guide. Print it out and put it in your notebook, so you have a reminder of what honey, baby bees, and the queen look like.
How Often Should You Inspect Your Beehive
How often you want to check your bees is entirely up to you. I advise beginner beekeepers to check their bees once a week for at least the first few months so that they get used to beekeeping and become familiar with spotting the queen while the hive is still small.
Once you are more comfortable with your bees, you can check them every 2-3 weeks. However, there are times when you might need to check in on them more often like if you think they might not have a queen or are recovering from a problem they recently had.
It is also possible to bother your bees too often. For the overeager beekeepers out there - yes you - ignore the urge to open your hive more often than every week. You also don't want to have the hive open for more than 45 minutes. Although you may enjoy visiting your bees, the feeling isn't exactly mutual. If all is well and they are busy, you might not disturb them too much with a quick inspection, but most times an inspection disrupts the hive and the queen, so keep it quick and leave them bee.
Some Beehive Inspection Tips:
- The ideal amount of time you should be spending inspecting your hive is 20 minutes.
- At first, it may take longer for you to inspect your hive (and that's ok) but try to close it up within 45 minutes.
- Do not put frames of brood or the queen (baby bees) in direct sun.
- Use smoke to get the bees out of the way to avoid squishing them.
- Keep the smoker at least 4" from the bees when billowing, so you don't harm the bees. Check out our video about how to use and start a smoker for more tips.
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