A week after installing your package bees, it’s time to perform your first hive inspection and see if the bees have accepted the queen and started to draw out the foundation.
Getting Ready for the First Hive Inspection
For this first inspection, we suggest wearing some level of protective clothing. Depending on your experience with beekeeping, you may be comfortable with minimal coverage. During this first inspection, however, we suggest erring on the side of caution.
In addition to putting on your protective clothing, make sure your tools are ready before you open and inspect the hive. Have your hive tool at the ready, and fill your smoker with your favorite fuel. Make sure the smoker is producing a good volume of cool smoke so you can effectively calm the bees.
Dadant & Sons Pro Tip: It’s important to use the proper amount of smoke when preparing to open the hive. Too much smoke may upset the bees, while too little won’t produce the calming effect you need. A light amount of cool smoke should do the trick.
Opening the Hive
Pull off the hive cover and set it down near the hive. You should see a nice, small cluster of bees near the middle of the hive. If the bees seem agitated, blow a small amount of smoke across the frames, but not directly into the hive.
Using your hive tool, adjust the frames to create a little space around one of the frames so you can easily remove it for inspection.
Dadant & Sons Pro Tip: Start with the outer frames of the brood nest and work your way to the inner frames. Be careful and move slowly to avoid knocking the queen off the frame.
Checking the Frames
Pull out the first frame carefully and slowly to check that they bees are drawing out comb. As you check the frames, look closely for the queen and signs that she is laying eggs. If the bees have accepted her, you will see the workers beginning to build out the foundation.
After spotting the queen, carefully reinsert the frames back into the hive, using your hive tool to keep the proper spacing. Now is also good time to check and replenish the sugar syrup in the feeder, or add an AP23 Pollen Patty.
Finally, replace the hive top and you’re all set!
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