Reasons to Check Your Hive Regularly

Activity

Draw the following chart in your exercise book.  Make a list of things you think might be important to check for in the hives.  Write why you think each of those things is important. Write what may happen if the beekeeper does not find the problem. Be ready to share your list with the class. 

 

What to check (look for) at the beehives:

Why it is important to check this:

What might happen if I don’t find this problem:

 

 

 

 

 

 


There are many reasons to check your hive regularly. The most important reason is so that you will know when to take action:

  • To make sure your bees are strong and healthy.
  • To make sure you have a laying queen who is producing lots of eggs and has a good brood pattern.
  • To make sure your hive has room for the queen to lay eggs and for the workers to store honey. 

If you want your bees to make a lot of honey, they need to be strong and healthy. The more eggs the queen lays, the more workers your colony will have. The more workers you have, the more honey your colonies will make.  So, you need to check your hives so you know if they are strong and growing.  You need to know if the queen is laying lots of eggs and if your hive has a large number of worker bees. 

Preknowledge: Interesting Fact

One worker bee only makes one teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. 


Your queen needs room to lay her eggs. Your bees need room to store the honey and pollen. You need to check your hives so that you know when your bees need more room. You need to know when it is time to give your hive another box with empty frames to fill or when it is time to harvest the honey, so you can give the bees back the empty frames to fill again. If the queen has filled the brood box with eggs and brood, you will need to put empty frames in the brood box so that she will have room to keep laying eggs.

In topic 11 you will learn about the many pests and diseases that can harm your bees. You need to check your hives so that you will know if one of these pests or disease is hurting your hive. Then you can do something about it. If ants or wax moths are attacking your colonies, and you don’t check your hives for a month, it may be too late to save the colony.

The beehive itself should be looked at so that rotting hive parts can be fixed or replaced. The frames and comb should be checked regularly and damaged or old comb should be replaced. Poor frames and comb mean fewer eggs. Fewer eggs mean fewer workers. Fewer workers mean less honey.

When beehives get crowded and queens get old, sometimes the old queen will run away with many of the workers. You lose your work force and less honey is made. This is called swarming. If you check your hives often you will be able to tell when the bees are getting ready to run away or swarm. Then you can do something to stop it from happening. (Swarming, and swarm prevention will be discussed in detail in Topic 12)

If your queen dies or stops laying lots of eggs, your hive will start to get weak. If you inspect your hives regularly you will know when this is happening. You will be able to fix the problem by re-queening the hive before it gets too weak. (Re-queening will be discussed in detail in Topic 14)

To check your hives regularly you must remove the lid and frames. When you do this often, the bees will not have a chance to stick everything together with propolis. Things will be easier to move, and the bees will be quiet and gentle. A hive that has not been opened in a long time is usually very hard to work with. Everything is stuck together. You end up breaking things and smashing bees. This may make the bees cross.

One of the main reasons for checking your hives often should be because you enjoy doing it. A good beekeeper is an interested beekeeper. You can learn something every time you go to the bee yard. It can be quite relaxing and enjoyable to sit in your bee yard and watch your bees doing their work

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