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A Basic Hive Inspection


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Helpful presentation to teach beginning beekeepers how to do a basic hive inspection.

A Basic Hive Inspection

  1. 1. A Basic Hive Inspection<br />Linda D. Tillman<br /><br />
  2. 2. How to Inspect a Bee Hive<br />A step by step approach to inspecting your bee hive<br />
  3. 3. Put on your protective clothing<br />
  4. 4. Gather your equipment<br />A Hive Tool & Smoker<br />Various Helpful Items<br />A hive tool, gloves, smoker, fuel, and a lighter are all the basics<br />Frame rack, frame grip, bee brush, cork to put in smoker, knife, container for all of this!<br />
  5. 5. Then head for the beehives<br />
  6. 6. First light the smoker<br /> fuel = pine straw<br />Easy lighter = propane<br />
  7. 7. How to light the smoker<br />We use pine straw for fuel<br />We use a propane lighter (for the grill) to light the smoker – reliable flame and the long nose on it makes it easy to get a flame into the depths of the smoker<br />
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  9. 9. More helpful smoker tips<br />Although not necessary, we use a paper towel impregnated with wax (from the solar wax melter) as a starter<br />Start with a little fuel and add more as you need it<br />
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  13. 13. A puff of smoke at hive entry tells the bees that you are coming in<br />
  14. 14. Take off the telescoping cover<br />
  15. 15. Remove the inner cover<br />
  16. 16.
  17. 17. Lay the telescoping cover upside down on the ground<br />Stacking boxes catty-corner on top of the upturned top allows you easy access to picking up the boxes and protects the queen from falling onto the ground <br />
  18. 18. A frame rack helps observation<br />Hangs on side of hive<br />Easy place to hang 1st frame out of the hive<br />
  19. 19. Removing the frames<br />The first frame you take out of the hive box should NOT be the one closest to the side of the box – take out #2 or #9 (if it’s a 10 frame box), #2 or # 7 if eight frame<br />Why? Because when you put the hive back together, the last frame in will be the first frame out. You’ll be sliding the frame in between two frames (pushing bees against other bees) rather than squashing bees against the hard side of the box.<br />
  20. 20. The #2 frame is being removed first<br />
  21. 21. Taking out the next to the last frame<br />This should be the<br />choice no matter<br />which side of the box<br />you start with for the<br />inspection.<br />
  22. 22. The purpose of an inspection for the beginning beekeeper<br />As beginners our biggest job is to understand what a hive looks like when it is functioning. The more we study what goes on inside the hive box, the better position we are in to know if we need to do something to help the hive. <br />
  23. 23. Are the bees are doing what they are supposed to?<br />Building wax, raising young bees, bringing in nectar and pollen, capping honey<br />
  24. 24. Are the bees building wax?<br />Whether you use foundation, starter strips, or go foundationless, you want your bees to make wax at the beginning of the season.<br />The wax serves the function of being home to brood that is raised, honey/nectar that is stored, and pollen that is packed away.<br />
  25. 25. Wax buildingNew wax drawn – no foundation<br />
  26. 26. Watch the bees build wax<br />On left bees festooning<br />They connect via wax from chest cells<br />
  27. 27. Next we look at how the bees are using their wax comb<br />Raising brood – workers, drones and queens<br />Storing pollen of all colors<br />Storing nectar and eventually capped honey<br />
  28. 28. The queen lays brood constantly<br />Holes in the brood box wax filled with larvae mean that new bees have hatched and the queen has laid new eggs to take their place<br />See the different stages of larvae in the cells?<br />
  29. 29. Is there a good brood pattern?<br />Worker brood is flat, light brown, and should be in a football shaped pattern<br />You don’t want to see too many holes in the pattern, although if the holes are filled with new larvae, that’s not a problem<br />
  30. 30. Can you see any eggs or young larvae?<br />Young larvae are tiny, c-shaped, worm-like<br />Larvae lie in the bottom of the cells in a liquid food<br />Eggs are in three center cells. The three cells below contain c-shaped larvae<br />
  31. 31. Eggs look like tiny grains of rice<br />
  32. 32. Look for worker and drone brood<br />The queen lays eggs all day long. <br />She chooses at each empty cell to lay a fertilized or an unfertilized egg<br />Fertilized egg = worker bee<br />Unfertilized egg = a drone<br />The drone’s only job is to be available to mate with queens from other hives<br />
  33. 33. Drone cells are not flat. They are rounded & stand up on the wax <br />
  34. 34. Queen cells<br />You may see queen cells – they look like peanuts in the shell <br />Bees often keep a few for insurance in case something happens to their queen or they want to swarm or supersede the current queen<br />Queen cell in each of <br /> these photos<br />
  35. 35. You’ll see pollen in the cells<br />
  36. 36. You’ll see uncapped honey<br />
  37. 37. You’ll see beautiful fully capped honey<br />
  38. 38. Also in the inspection you’ll look at the bees themselves<br />Learn to distinguish workers, drones<br />Learn to find the queen<br />
  39. 39. You’ll see bees: What do workers/drones look like?<br />
  40. 40. The drone has huge eyes (to help him see the queen in flight)<br />He is shaped like a cigar and does not have a stinger.<br />
  41. 41. If you look hard, you may see the Queen<br />
  42. 42. If you didn’t find her, she is circled below<br />
  43. 43. Can you find her in this picture? (hint: she is marked)<br />
  44. 44. This queen is harder to find<br />
  45. 45. Did you find her?<br />
  46. 46. In addition to learning about your hive, the inspection is also about trying to determine if there are any problems with the hive<br />Are there intruders: small hive beetles, roaches, wax moths?<br />Is there disease or indication of weakness due to Varroa mites<br />Do the bees need more space to grow or to store honey?<br />
  47. 47. The small hive beetle<br />You’ll have them in your hives<br />Here’s one with<br />the audacity to be<br />beside the Queen!)<br />
  48. 48. When you see a small hive beetle…..<br />Smash it, crush it, step on it!<br />SMASH IT <br />WITH YOUR <br />HIVE TOOL ! <br />
  49. 49. Wax moths<br />Wax moths in your hive mean the hive is weak. <br />They wreak havoc quite quickly<br />One solution is to combine the weak hive with a strong one<br />Note: These photos are from a dead hive<br />
  50. 50. Varroa mites<br />You can’t always see the Varroa mite but sometimes you do: <br />This one is on the larvae – see the orange “tick” on the larvae body<br />
  51. 51. The bee in the center has a red Varroa mite on her back <br />
  52. 52. Deformed Wing Virus<br />Vectored by the Varroa mite, makes the bees ‘ wings deformed and useless as in picture – observe the stubby malformed wings <br />
  53. 53. You will have the Varroa mite even if you never see it.<br />Natural beekeepers use a powdered sugar shake as part of their inspection about once a month during bee season. The bees groom the powdered sugar off of their bodies, and groom the Varroa mite off of their bodies at the same time.<br />
  54. 54. Powdered sugar shake<br />
  55. 55. Ghostly powdered bees!<br />
  56. 56. Do your bees need more space for brood or honey production?<br />It often helps to have an empty hive box or super with you on an inspection.<br />
  57. 57. When do you add a new hive box?<br />If your bees have drawn out the wax on the foundation or frames in 8 out of 10 frames in a hive box, you’ll need to add another hive box filled with frames to allow the queen more room to lay eggs<br />New box is added to this hive<br />
  58. 58. During honey flow, add supers<br />Bees can fill a honey super faster than you can imagine.<br />When the bees have filled most of the frames in the top box with honey, have another frame-filled superready to add. <br />
  59. 59. How often should one go into the hives?<br />Not daily!! <br />You are intruding into the bees home and it takes a little while for them to recover – so only about once every week or so during bee season<br />
  60. 60. When is the inspection over?<br />When you have accomplished what you opened the hive to do<br />You don’t have to open and disturb every box<br />Mainly you want to know how your bees are doing and if you need to make any changes to promote the well-being of the hive<br />
  61. 61. Put the hive back together<br />Put the frames back in hive box in the same order and orientation as you found them.<br />Some beekeepers mark the frames to help keep them in order<br />
  62. 62. Slowly slide each box onto the one beneath<br />This allows the box to act as a bulldozer and gives the bees a chance to move rather than be squashed by the oncoming box.<br />
  63. 63. Replace the inner cover and the telescoping cover<br />Take any notes you may need for the next visit to that hive, gather up your equipment, put out the smoker, and you’re finished!<br />
  64. 64. Congratulations!<br />You’ve completed your hive inspection!<br />
  65. 65. Photography credits<br />Photographers: Julia Mahood<br />Linda Tillman<br />Sam Macey<br />All photos from<br />