Reasons to Keep Good Hive Records

Keeping good hive records means writing down what you see when you check your hives.

1. To identify problems in the hive:  One of the main reasons for keeping good hive records is so that you will know if things have changed since the last time you checked.  Being able to tell if things have changed means that you will know if your hive has a problem.  For example if the last time you checked, your hive had 7 frames of bees and brood and it now has only 5, then you know your hive is growing weaker and there is a problem.

When you write down what you do at each hive, then on the next visit you can tell if what you did helped or not.  For example the last time one of your hives didn’t have any eggs and you didn’t see a queen.  You gave it another queen.  Now when you check you see eggs.  So you know that you have solved that problem.  Or, last time you gave a hive 3 empty frames. This time 2 of them have been filled with honey.  So you know your hive is making lots of honey and maybe they need more room.

2. To remember what you did last time in your hive and what you need to do next:

It is also good to write down what you think needs to be done on the next visit and when that visit should be.  This will help you plan the work you want to do and when you need to do it.  Before you go to the bee yard, you can read what you wrote the last time.  This way you don’t forget to bring the things you need or to do the things you need to do.

3. To identify your best hive for honey production and queen raising:  Another reason for writing things down is so that you know which of your hives are your best ones and which ones are not so good.  If one of your hives is always cross for example, maybe you should re-queen that one.  If you know that one of your hives makes more honey than all the others, (because you wrote down how many frames you harvested from every hive), then maybe that would be a good hive to raise queens from.

4. To predict when the honey will flow or when it is swarming season:  Keeping good records will also let you compare one month to another or one year to another.  Do your bees always produce lots of honey in October and November?  If they do, then you can be ready with empty frames and boxes to put on in September so you don’t miss any honey.  Do your bees always swarm in February?  Maybe you should check for swarm cells more carefully in February.  Did it rain more in 2004 than in 2005?  Is that why you had more honey in 2005? Just think how interesting it would be to go back and read your records from 10 or 20 years ago?

Writing things down will make you a better beekeeper.  It will help you

  • remember what has already been done. 
  • remember what needs to be done.
  • know if things have changed. 
  • know if what you did to your hive worked or not. 
  • know if one of your hives has a problem and if you were able to fix it. 
  • know which hives are the best ones.  Then you can try and make all of your hives like that one, raise queens from that one, maybe manage your other hives the way you managed that one. 

Writing things down and keeping good records, will help you keep learning.   It might stop you from making the same mistake twice.  It may help you keep doing the things that are successful.

Activity: Hive inspection

Divide into small groups.  Each group is given a hive to check.  Make a list of the things you plan to look for.  Together, check the hive and write down what you see in the record book.  After you have inspected the hive, discuss with your group what you saw.  Back in class report to the class and tell the story of your hive.


Activity: Round About

This is an interesting way to review the material and see how much you understand. Your teacher will divide the class into 3 groups and number the groups 1, 2 and 3. Each group will go to the piece of chart paper that has their number on it. The group will be given a marker and when the teacher tells you to begin, answer the question on the chart paper by writing down all your ideas. You will be given only about 10 minutes. At the end of the time your teacher will clap her hands or signal the class in some way that it is time to stop.

Now the groups rotate. Group one goes to page 2, group 2 goes to page 3 and group 3 goes to page 1. At your teacher’s signal, the groups begin to answer this new question. If you agree with something the other group has written, put a check mark with your marker. If you disagree with what is written, then put an “X”. Then add any new ideas you have to the list.

When 5 to 10 minutes has passed, the groups will be asked to move to the question they have not yet answered. Group 1 goes to question 3, group 2 goes to question 1, and group 3 goes to question 2. The groups then answer this last question following the same method. At the end of the time, the groups sit down and then as a class you discuss the answers given to each question.


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