A beehive inspection checklist is an essential tool in maintaining the health and number of your swarm. It allows you to monitor the necessary requirements and tasks you need to perform to ensure your swarms are receiving the attention they need.
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A beehive inspection helps beekeepers keep track of everything that is going on in the hive and the surroundings around it, since beekeeping requires a lot of responsibilities if you want to make it into a successful venture. One of these responsibilities is performing routine beehive inspections on a regular basis. Hive inspections usually last between 30 to 60 minutes per hive.
By recording everything on a regular basis, a beekeeper will be able to notice trends and patterns occurring in their beehives. These tasks can be intimidating even for an experienced beekeeper. The more beehives you have, the more important it is to have an inspection form so you can record everything. By using a checklist, beekeepers can assure themselves that they have not overlooked anything.
There are multiple items that need to be checked during a beehive inspection. You will want to make sure that there are no parasites or pests invading your hive, for example, and you want to check on the queen, the center of your hive. Record your observations meticulously and take your time during the inspection. This way, you can be certain that you did not forget anything and that your hive is healthy and thriving.
These are the most important things to look out for:
Their presence in the hive spells disaster for the hive; thus, you need to remove them if you find evidence of them or have any grounds for suspicion that your hive might be infested. We actually have a checklist on how to conduct a pest and termite inspection of your beehive in case you are interested.
Varroa mites, for instance, feed on the blood of the bees, and their life cycle is closely intertwined with that of the bees. Tracheal mites, on the other hand, are hard to detect because they burrow inside the bee’s tracheal tube, the organ that helps bees breathe.
Wax moths and small hive beetles are opportunistic pests. Although a strong and healthy swarm can overpower them, unhealthy hives are in danger of getting eaten up by these pests. Make sure you inform yourself of the symptoms of these plagues so that you can ensure a healthy beehive.
A queenless hive is in big trouble. Therefore, when you check the hive, you also check for the queen. If the queen is unmarked, you can identify her easily because she is slightly bigger than others and has an elongated and unstriped abdomen.
Once spotted, you have to find out if the queen is productive. You’ll be searching for a drawn comb with eggs and an open brood. However, eggs can be difficult to see because they are small. But you’ll usually find them around the middle of the frame going toward the bottom. There is usually one egg per cell.
Drones have no other task in the hive but to mate with the queen. An untrained eye might confuse drones with the queen because of their size. However, drones are rounder, fatter, and have larger eyes.
An approximate 15 percent of the hive population should be made up of drones and only healthy hives can sustain a drone population.
Swarm cells or queen cells are combs that look odd because there are too many bees inside them. While you can cut out the swarm cells, it is labor-intensive and dangerous, so it’s better to contact an expert and let them do the job if you are unsure how to proceed.
A complete beehive should have two brood and honey boxes from the start. As the population grows, you’ll add more. However, proper timing plays a crucial role in the success of the hive. Adding more frames too soon can destroy the hive.
Beehive inspections are crucial to the health and life of the hive. It is recommended that you perform the inspection every 1 to 2 weeks during spring and summer time.
Here’s a step-by-step instruction on how to conduct a beehive inspection:
Before you inspect the beehive, you need to get the following tools ready:
This is the step where the smoker plays a crucial role. Aim a few puffs to the hive entrance to calm the soldier bees and push them back inside the hive. Experts say that the smoker prevents bees from releasing pheromones, which is their main form of communication.
When you lift the hive roof, direct a small amount of smoke under the lid and close it for a few seconds. The bees will react by eating the stored nectar inside the hive and they become more relaxed.
If this is the first time you’ll check the hive after installation, start your inspection at the center, opening two to three frames. Use the hive tool to open the lid and break the propolis seal.
Take a frame from one of the ends of the hive. Use this gap to take the other frames away from the center until you reach the frame where the comb is. Once you check the eggs and the brood, close the hive and go to the next one.
Keeping a record is important. That’s why a digital beehive inspection checklist is much better than the paper form. You can easily store and access any information you want easily and effortlessly.
With Lumiform’s audit app you can easily perform a multitude of inspections on the go from your smartphone or tablet - online or offline. Create checklists for your regular beehive inspections to easily collect data in the field and keep track of your beekeeping endeavours. Your business will be buzzing with Lumiform.