Record Keeping

To keep your bees strong and productive you need to know what is happening in each of your hives. This will help you to do the right thing with your bees at the right time. You need to visit your hives once a week, or once a fortnight and look inside them.  Keep track of what is happening.  It is far better to look at your bees too much, rather than not enough.

Activity: Brainstorming

What do you think is important to check or look for in your hives? Write a list in your exercise book and be prepared to share your answers with the class to help make a class list.


It is very important to write down what you see when you check your beehives.  This may not seem important if you only have 1 hive, but it is the best way to remember what is happening from one visit to the next. If you have a few hives, or many, it is the best way to keep track of things so your bees can be managed properly.

The following is a list of some of the things you may want to check and record every time you visit your bee yard.  It is not a complete list, and you may want to add to it.

The following need only be recorded once for each separate visit.

Bee Yard:  If you are keeping bees in more than one place to is important to name each bee yard.

Date: The date should be recorded for every visit. This will help you know when something was done and how long before something else needs to be done.

Time: The time of day affects the behaviour of the bees.  It might explain why your bees are behaving a certain way.  For example in the late afternoon your bees may be cross.

Weather: Weather is important to honey production.  The more rain, the less honey. It also affects bee behaviour.  Bees tend to be cross during cloudy or rainy weather.

Name: If you are the only beekeeper looking after the hives, this is not important. At a Rural Training Centre with many different people checking the hives, it is important to know who was the last to check a hive.  You then know who to talk to in case there are questions about what they saw or did.

Map: Drawing a map of the bee yard will help to know which hive is being referred to in the notes.  Numbering the hives is a good idea also.  The number should be put on the brood box. The honey boxes are sometimes moved around or removed.

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What to record when inspecting a hive: 

The entrance:  Look at the bees at the entrance.  Are they busy coming and going? If they are,  they are probably bringing in nectar and pollen.   Can you see pollen on the back legs of the workers? If so, there is probably brood in your hive needing to be fed.  Are the bees crowded, or hot and hanging from the entrance?  Maybe they need more room or are preparing to swarm.

Queen Right: This is the most important thing to know about your hive. Sometimes you may see the queen, but your hive has no eggs or the brood pattern is not good.  So your hive has a queen, but she is not doing a good job. Your hive is NOT queen right.  If your hive is queen right, the queen is laying eggs and it has a good brood pattern? Record whether you see the queen, and or eggs, queen cells, or swarm cells

Brood: How many frames of brood are there in your hive?  Is there a good brood pattern?

Honey: How many frames of honey are there?  Do you need to harvest soon?

Room/Space:  Is your hive full?  Does it need more room?   Where?  Is the honey box full or is the brood box full?

Strength: Is your hive weak, medium, strong, very strong?

Equipment: Are the frames, wax, boxes, and lid in good shape?  Does something need to be fixed?

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It may not be necessary to write down everything on this list every time.  The habit of keeping records of some kind will make you a better beekeeper.

Activity: Map Reading

Study the map in the notes.  Use the legend written below the map to explain what is happening in each hive.  Write this in your exercise book.   Does the hive have a queen?  Is she laying eggs?  Is there a problem with this hive?  Can you leave the hive for another 2 weeks or must you take action? Be ready to share your thinking with the class.


Activity: Drawing Activity

Draw a map of the school’s bee yard in your exercise books.  As the class works with the hives, make notes about what is seen and done.  Be sure to record any transfers of the nucs.


Activity: Record keeping

You will be given a partner.  You and your partner will be given a beehive to inspect.  Open the hive carefully, using the lesson ideas.   As you look through the hive, make notes about what you see.  Tell the story of what is happening in the hive.  Share your findings with the class.


Activity: Beehive Partner Work
  1. In the bee yard, as a review of this topic, transfer a nuc to a hive.
  2. In the bee yard, in partners or small groups, practise carefully removing frames and pointing out to each other the following: 
  • Worker bee
  • Drone
  • Queen (if possible)              
  • Open nectar
  • Honey
  • Pollen                 
  • Egg
  • Larva (worker &drone)
  • Capped pupa (worker & drone)
  • Emerging bee

Activity: Drawing Activity

Draw a frame with a good brood pattern.  Show where the bees have put the honey and pollen.  Show where the queen has laid the eggs.  Draw a frame with a spotty brood pattern.


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