Building Beehives For Dummies
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The mechanics of routine beekeeping will become habit the more you visit the hive. Look for these specific things and follow these procedures while inspecting 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 (that's good) or are they tan or dull (that's bad)?

  • 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.

  • Always anticipate the colony's growth. Provide additional space by adding honey supers (if you are using a Langstroth hive) or by moving your follower board (if you are using a Top Bar hive). Give them room before it's obvious that the bees need extra space.

  • Replace all frames and close up the hive.

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