What would you do?

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Field Bee
Mar 9, 2009
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WBC/Smith/National/nucs in Horsham, West Sussex.
Hive Type
Number of Hives
Right here is my dilemma. The last time I looked at my bees was the 18th April. I really wanted to take a look at them last weekend but ended up helping out a friend with hers instead. No chance of going thru them this weekend because it’s been too darn wet, windy and cold. I work during the week and cant just pop home on my lunch hour because I work 40 mins away from home. And the weather for the next week isn’t going to be the best. Last inspection I found one queen cup with an egg in it but they had plenty of room; they are on a brood and a half. I really wanted to get them back down to just a brood box too. As I said they had plenty of room, lots of stores, pollen coming in, larvae, and eggs. Considering how stroppy they were last year they were remarkably calm and happy.

So what should I do? Panic and open them up even if the weather is cold? Or just wait until the next descent spell of weather and hope for the best? I have put a bait hive out but it’s not as far away as I would like. I also have no honey supers on there.

Please advise what you all think I should do? :bigear:

In anticipation :lurk5: Tx
Regards the queen cell,the queen can often lay eggs in queen cups,the bees just throw them out if not in swarm mode or wanting to supercede.

If you noticed an egg in a queen cell on the 18th and they wanted to swarm then they would be gone by the time you inspect.

I would try and get a look one evening this week if you can.
I cant beleive if you finish at 5 and your 40 mins away from home that the weathers not good enough to have a look at 6pm. Get your smoker going really well, use it to control the bees as best you can and be brave. I regularly look at mine much later , well , 7ish
I think MBC is saying that a lot of the foragers will be at home so you will have a full colony to inspect.
in terms of cold. i was taught that if you can wear a tshirt and not be chilly then its fine or 12-13oC min
Can we have a wee think here.

If you were commercial and running 500 boxes you would have to inspect 50 per day every day regardless.

Will one come to grief if the temp is a bit cool....?

I think they will be fine.


:iagree: with Polyhive, I looked into my hives the other day, well two days ago to be exact, and I'm glad I did as one hive had fully developed queen cells which were about to be capped so I AS them, this all started a week ago with a Q cell with just an egg, the weather was very cool then, so it's just a question of getting on with it regardless.

Bite the bullet laddie :driving:.
Your in the driving seat ??.

Wait until you venture into Queen rearing , once you've commenced you have to continue regardless of the weather bee-smillie.

John Wilkinson
Sometimes a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do.
Just finished one of mine, temp around 13/14. It wasn't fun, in warmer weather they're placid but today they were feisty to say the least.
Job done.
Thanks guys, glad i listened to you all because i can stop worrying now. they were all fine. no more queen cells thankfully and still plenty of stores, space, larvae etc. as cazza said they were rather moody and my suit sustained a few stings but it was worth it for the peace of mind. it was 12 deg by the way.
interestingly all their brood seemed to be at one end of the brood box. any reason for this or is it just the foibles of the honey bee? :)
I'm in my first year of beekeeping and have just posted the same question as you. Glad I'm not the only one in this quandry. I was taught you can have have a quick peek inside the hive but don't inspect it if the temp is below 14c. the risk of chilling is too high. I actually started on a group program that consisted of five colonies initially. Not wanting to risk my colony for any reason, I've only ever inspected the hive when conditions permitted. Others were not so wary. Out of the five colonies only mine has survived the winter and early spring! Coincidence or what - I wish I knew - or have I just been lucky?
Inspection time.

Beginner probably a half hour +... wow look at that.... crikey see that.....

Expert. Three minutes.

So whose brood is at risk?

Lot of variables in the word "Inspection"

Inspection time.

Beginner probably a half hour +... wow look at that.... crikey see that.....

Expert. Three minutes.


Hi Polyhive
I'm no expert but no newbie either. I can't get near three minutes, more like 10. I'm in awe!
What exactly do you manage to do in 3 minutes?
What exactly do you manage to do in 3 minutes?

My inspection times have gone down loads in the second year. Just seem to be more used to see them.
What exactly do you manage to do in 3 minutes?


Get the roof off:smilielol5::smilielol5::smilielol5:

I watched a demmo by a commercial guy on how to inspect a hive in 10 mins .
I thought that was quick !!!.

John Wilkinson
If you have 250 colonies, 10 mins a hive and going through all in a week is the only thing you could do. OK, 250 is absolute tops for one person and a couple hundred is more like, but you couldn't mess around taking 20 minutes!

Again it is the 'numbers' game. Know your hives, make your notes and most of the similar ones will have made similar progress in the week. Consistent queens all bought in at the same time, etc, etc.

Same with two hives, if the strongest has not progressed to the swarming stage, the other is not likely, also (all other things being equal).As I keep on saying two is better than one - you still have to get kitted up and clean up afterwards.

Looking for queen cells (not in a brood and half, as the case here perhaps) should be done in 3 minutes (time with coverboard off), as long as the result is negative.

Regards, RAB