In case you’re unfamiliar we have a wonderful forum at World of Beekeeping for your questions. You can simply click here to access the forums, register and post your questions. Folks will chime in with their experiences and help you with your questions. Not only is it a great place to have your questions answered but it’s a great place to watch the beekeeping world and learn more about other topics you’ve not thought of just yet.
Wondering what kind of information you’ll find on the forums? Check out this great post from Glenn at Taylor Made Honey on doing a hive inspection:
What to look for during hive inspections. Following are some things to look for and it is not all but it is a good start. Inspect & keep notes to track hive progress. Good tracking program, free to use, https://hivetracks.com. You are going to have to research a bit because all to look for cannot be totally detailed except in book form. Further it is your decision as to whether you treat your hives with chemicals or go natural. I prefer the latter but I do use some essential oils and health enhancing bee supplements. Research natural beekeeping. I also use screen bottom boards, hive pests drop thru- may or may not be good for your location.
1. On opening hive watch for small hive beetles inside top cover & inner cover, more than a few is not good. Temperament of bees- they should not be overly aggressive.
2. During inspection generally observe the health of the hive: pests: SHB, Varroa, webbing, sunken cell caps? spotty laying patterns: eggs/larva/capped brood-do you see any and are they in a uniformly pattern (not scattered all over)? Capped brood should be mostly worker brood. Larva should be white, moist, and bright appearing? The hive probably has problems if not found as outline here.
3. Hive strength- count your frames of bees “frame covered both sides=one frame” during spring build-up optimum is about 3 frames of bees for each frame of brood.
4. Check for overcrowding, a honey dome, and queen cells along the bottom of brood frames (swarm cells) an imbalance promotes swarm preparation “if the queen is restricted on places to lay they will swarm”. If you do fine swarm cells it is a great time to do a split. Reference to help: http://www.beesource.com/point-of-view/walt-wright several good articles on swarm prevention.
5. Check quantities of brood and pollen/honey frames, they should steadily increase during nectar flow. In the fall/early winter ensure your hives have sufficient honey/pollen stores. Honey is best but if stores are light and nectar flow is over start feeding 2:1 sugar syrup or HFCS- all they will take. Here in the south I start the winter with each hive topped with one medium super of honey. Be sure to keep check on stores “heft test” especially in early spring.
6. Condition of hive: wood ware, frames, excess Propolis, comb being drawn and drawn straight with frames. One frame drawn irregular and the rest will be drawn the same.
7. Ventilation is very important, summer and winter. Heavy “bearding” in summer and moisture/mold on top/inner cover in winter can indicate insufficient ventilation. More hives succumb to lack of ventilation and food stores in winter than to cold.
Hope this helps. Happy beekeeping. Good luck.
Have you checked out the forums? You can do that here.