Beehive inspections are important because without them, you would have no idea what is going on inside of the hive. If you do not inspect your hives periodically, there is a good chance that your bees will not survive very long.
However, inspecting your hives too much is a problem as well. The bees don’t necessarily like to be disturbed, and too much of it is very stressful for them. So, how often should you inspect a beehive?
What is a Beehive Inspection?
A beehive inspection is a routine check up of the bee colony. Hive inspections are important because if there is something wrong in the hive, such as pests or disease, the beekeeper needs to know right away.
During a hive inspection, the beekeeper will carefully remove each frame in the brood box and inspect it to see how the colony is doing. A beekeeping frame perch is helpful for this because you can place the frames on there when you are not using them.
Both sides of the frame should be checked thoroughly. During inspections, the beekeeper is trying to determine the health and productivity of the colony. They do this by finding the queen, examining brood, and monitoring pollen, nectar, and honey stores.
How Often Should You Inspect a Beehive?
For new hives, you should do inspections once a week for the first few weeks. This is just to make sure that the bees are adapting well to their new home. Once they are settled in, you can do inspections once a month.
Different times of the year will require a different amount of inspections. In the early spring, hives need to be inspected more often to check for signs of swarming.
Late spring to summer requires less inspections. You can go 3-4 weeks between inspections at this point. Check the hive to see if you should harvest honey. During late summer, see if the bees have enough food stored for winter.
Fall and winter usually need no inspections. Opening the hive will cause cold air to get in, making it difficult for the bees to stay warm.
This is just a basic example of how often to inspect a beehive. Different hives require different amounts of inspections based on their needs. For example, strong colonies will not need as many inspections as colonies that are recovering from disease.
You want to have a good balance of just enough inspections. Too few inspections can lead to swarming, or you may not catch signs of pests or disease. However, inspecting too much is stressful for the bees.
Over time and with practice you will be able to get a feel of just how often your hives need inspections. Just remember that you want to monitor your hives, but also disturb them as little as possible.
When to Inspect a Beehive
Beehives inspections should be conducted at a time when there is good lighting and good weather. You do not want to do an inspection in windy or rainy weather. It may also be helpful to do it when your bees are out foraging. The time that your bees like to forage will depend on your climate.
What to Look for During a Beehive Inspection
During a hive inspection you want to look for the following:
- Location of the queen
- Does the brood appear healthy?
- Brood pattern
- Signs of swarming
- Honey stores
- Bees temperament
- Signs of mites or disease
A beehive inspection is a routine check up of the bee colony. You should inspect a beehive as often as the colony needs it. Once a week for new colonies, and monthly or less for strong colonies. Aim to monitor your hives while also disturbing them as little as possible.