How To Monitor The Beehive Entrance
Excerpted from: What You Can Learn from the Beehive Entrance
Beehive monitoring without opening the hive!
One of the most anticipated jobs for the beekeeper is doing a hive inspection. This is when
you get to look into the hive and be assured that all is well. But you don’t have to wait until
it’s time for a full hive inspection to know that all is well with the hive. There are many things
you can learn about your hive just by watching the beehive entrance and the environment
around the beehive.
Hive inspections are an important skill to learn when you start a honey bee farm or backyard
apiary. They should be done on a regular basis or when you suspect that something is awry. During
the inspection you’ll open the hive, locate the queen, make sure there’s brood and honey, and look
for pests and signs of disease.
Read more: How To Read Brood Frames
While inspections are necessary they are intrusive to the bees and will slow down production. Every
time you get into a hive it sets the bees back approximately one day as they tidy the hive and repair
anything that you damaged.
There should only be one beehive entrance and it should have a landing pad or board for the bees for
taking off and landing. This is where all the action will take place.
As you watch bees coming and going, do you see bees coming in with balls of pollen stuck to their legs?
This is good. It means the bees are foraging well. As the hive grows you should see increased activity
of bees coming and going. In the height of the summer it will almost look like a subway station.
In the late afternoon, you may see bees exiting the hive and hovering around the hive, flying up and
down or in a figure eight. These bees are newly hatched and are orienting themselves to the hive.
This is a good sign that the queen is healthy and laying eggs.
If you notice bees on the landing pad that are walking around and unable to fly, that is not a good sign.
It’s time for a full hive inspection. If the bees have deformed wings look for mites and determine a plan
Honey bee bearding in
Each hive will post guards to keep intruders out and they take their job very seriously. Do you see
fighting and wrestling on the landing pad? If so, a bee from another hive may be trying to enter the hive,
for the purpose of robbing honey.
This will often happen during the fall when the nectar flow slows down and the bees are getting ready
for winter. If you see this and the offender bee flies off, the hive is fine, and the guard bees are doing
their job. But if the offender bee enters the beehive, the hive might be weak and more robbers will come.
It’s time for an inspection.
Another sign of possible bee robbing is bees aggressively circling the hive looking for a way to get in.
If you see this, keep an eye on the entrance to make sure the guards are doing their job. It’s also a good
idea to make sure there’s only one entrance. Bees have a hard time defending a hive with multiple
Read more: Beehive Robbery
Dead drones kicked out
of the hive in fall.
During the fall you may see a worker bee dragging a larger bee, a drone, out of the hive and fighting
with him until he leaves. This is the fall drone clean out and is necessary for the hive to survive the winter.
Read more: The Life of Honey Bee Drones
Bearding is when a mass of bees hang out on the outside of the hive instead of staying inside the
hive, it looks like a beard on the hive. Bees like to keep the hive around 95°F so during the heat of
the summer, some bees may need to exit the hive and stay out for a while to cool off.
Bearding could also mean that the hive is getting to swarm. If the hive has been growing and has
filled more than 80 percent of its capacity, they need more space. And swarming is one way to get
Have you ever wondered how bees fly? Scientists first
realized that bees seem to flout the laws of mathematics in the 1930s.
Bees can learn faces, add and subtract and even process the concept of zero. In a new study
they studies bees to understand how they acquire information.
To talk of bee tongues is to vastly oversimply the complex apparatus that makes up bee
mouthparts. They vary considerably in size and shape, depending on the need.