Topical Tips – “First Inspections” – by Malcolm Wilkie

“First Inspections” - by Malcolm Wilkie

 First inspection of a large colony

  1. Video-1
    Lesley checks Queen excluder having lifted corners with her hive tool.
    The paper on the hive is non-stick greaseproof paper and there are the remains of a Neopoll pollen patty beneath which was added in February.
  2. Video-2
    How to remove the first frame with a J tool.
  3. Video-3
    Using the wedge hive tool and removal of the dummy board.
    Removal of the greaseproof paper.
    Using the smoker correctly.
  4. Video-4
    Calculating stores for the record card.
  5. Video-5
    Evidence that a nectar flow has started. These pictures were taken on Sunday, the 5th of April. Evidently a large colony is going to need a super. This Colony already has a super although they are not in it yet!
  6. Image-6
    A picture of worker brood and larvae above. The bees look healthy. No K-wings. Many bees look furry, so they are young bees. A good sign.
  7. Image-7
    Picture of some drone brood at the bottom of the frame. It takes 24 days to raise drone. These cells are sealed. In 12 to 14 days the drone cells will hatch. Then it will take another 12 to 14 days for the drones to sexually mature. In theory new virgin queens can then mate with these drones. This makes swarming possible from early May (2nd/3rd/4th of May). It makes swarming likely in the week of the 18th of May with a large colony.
  8. Video-8
    Correct use of a smoker and wedge. How to correctly manipulate a brood frame in order to inspect both sides.
  9. Video-9
    Looking for an unmarked queen. She appears at the end of the clip. However if you are observant she briefly gets into the camera shot about halfway through. See if you can spot her. If you can find and mark your queen now it is so much easier. If marking multiple Queens make sure you clean the crown of thorns and/or the Queen clip in your soda solution. If you transfer Queen pheromone from one queen to another the second colony may kill your queen! The good thing about marking a queen at present is that she is dominant in her unit and there is less likelihood of an accident when re-introducing her because of you having marked her. When putting her back in the hive always introduce her between  two brood frames.  And watch her like a hawk to make sure she goes down and doesn’t fly off! Also liberally use cool smoke to cover up the fact that you have been touching her.
  10. Video-10
    Correctly calculating how to disturb the bees the least possible once an inspection is over. Using the wedge to create space for the dummy board; notice how Lesley levers the frame away from the side of the box.
  11. Video-11
    Cleaning the queen excluder so as not to crush bees.
    Top/bottom bee space and correct use of a wired queen excluder. As Lesley has bottom bee space, notice which way up she puts her wired queen excluder. This helps prevent crushing bees.
    [Link to article on: Bee space]

Inspection of a small colony

  1. Video-1
    Opening a hive containing a small colony Use of a frame support. This colony does not need a super.
    [Link to article on: Let your bees go outwards before you let them go upwards]
  2. Video-2
    What to do when there are too many frames of stores
    [Link to article on: Can you love your Bees too much?]
    [Link to article on: Steve Davies - First inspections]
    [Link to article on: Brood boxes are meant for brood]
  3. Video-3
    A marked and clipped queen, gentle on the comb.
    Lesley now marks all her queens blue. She finds the pale blue marker pen stands out well and makes the Queen easier to spot.

Malcolm Wilkie - 6th April 2020

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