Our goal as beekeepers isn’t just to get honey or wax. It’s also to make sure that our colonies are strong and healthy, especially going into a fruit bloom or a nectar flow of some kind. So what does a healthy colony really look like. Check for these things at your next hive inspection:
- A healthy queen who is laying lots of eggs. You should see some sort of egg or larvae in most cells. If you only have larvae in a cell here and a cell there (and they didn’t just hatch) you may have a problem.
- Enough bees to cover at least 8 frames of deep foundation. This insures you have enough bees to gather nectar from the flow.
- At least 5 frames of brood. Again, make sure that the queen has filled most of these cells.
- About 5 frames of honey of their own to eat.
- Lots of stored pollen or a supplement. That brood requires pollen and to keep the bees collecting nectar you’ll want to make sure they have enough pollen to not become distracted.
- Enough space! This is the big one. If they don’t have a place to put the nectar you’ll not only be out of luck for collecting honey but you might wind up with a hive that swarms.
- Ventilation and a top entrance if warm enough. This allows workers to enter into the honey supers rather than having to work their way up the hive.
Do you have these things in your beehive?