The mechanics of routine beekeeping will become habit the more you visit the hive. Look for these specific things and follow these procedures while inpecting your bees and their hive:

  • Observe the “comings and goings” of bees at the entrance. Do things look “normal,” or are bees fighting or stumbling around aimlessly?

  • Smoke the hive (at entrance and under the cover).

  • If you’re using a screened bottom board, check the slide-out tray for varroa mites. Determine if treatment is needed. Clean the tray and replace it.

  • Open the hive. Remove the wall frame and set it aside.

  • Work your way through the remaining frames.

  • Do you see the queen? If not, look for eggs. Finding eggs means that you have a queen. If you are 100% certain there are no eggs (and thus no queen) consider ordering a new queen from your bee supplier.

  • Look at uncapped larvae. Do they look bright white and glistening (normal) or are they tan or dull?

  • How’s the brood pattern? Is it compact (with few empty cells) and does it cover most of the frame? This is excellent.

  • Is the brood pattern spotty (with many empty cells)? Are cappings sunken in or perforated? If yes, you may have a problem.

  • Do you see swarm cells? Provide the colony with more room to expand. Check for adequate ventilation.

  • Anticipate the colony’s growth. Add additional honey supers before it’s obvious that the bees need more room.

  • Replace all frames and close up the hive.