But what will you find and what should you expect to see? Will you find the queen and do you have to find her? What will the hive look like? All of these questions can be very intimidating for the beginner.
If you’ve started with all new equipment this first hive inspection is a bit difficult. The bees are pulling out the foundation and consuming the sugar water but you might not be able to find any eggs or brood as there might not be space for the queen to lay eggs just yet. So should you go looking for the queen to make sure she’s still alive?
There’s no reason you can’t go looking for the queen. Just know you may not find her or it might take some time to do so. Hopefully when you got your package it came with a marked queen. This will make it far easier to find her as she will have a dot on her back. Even so you may still spend a significant time visually scanning each frame to see where she is. Without a marked queen you might not be able to find her at all.
Should you be worried if you can’t find her? Likely not. Simply check the bees, remove any extra comb they’ve built and make sure their sugar water is full. Your next hive inspection will likely show a lot more development in the hive.
So what should you see at your hive if you have all new equipment? Well, hopefully the weather is good and the bees are flying. They may be bringing back nectar and filling the tops of the frames with it. Hopefully they’re bringing back pollen too and hopefully the bees look busy and occupied.
If you have two hives this is a great time to take notes and compare what you’re seeing in each of your hives.
In my hive I had two older frames with honey that I put in the hive. This meant that the bees where crowded around these frames, cleaning them out, eating the honey and getting these cells ready for the queen to lay eggs. While I was certain that the queen was on one of these frames they were so covered in bees that I couldn’t find her (and I wasn’t trying very hard!).
For beginners this first hive inspection is a good time to simply look around, see what your bees are up to and get familiar with handling the frames. Practice moving slowly, using your smoker (not too much!) and record what you see. Then put it all back and get ready for your next hive inspection.
Have you done your first hive inspection yet? How did it go and what did you find?