New beekeepers are often eager (or terrified) to dive into their beehives during their first year. It’s so exciting to open the lid and see what’s going on in that complex society now living in your backyard. I frequently get asked questions such as: how often should I inspect my hive? Is checking weekly too much? Will the bees be OK if I am going on vacation? How do I know when I should check on them again?
As usual, I begin answering most questions with “There are no rules in beekeeping…” But that really does apply here. There’s not an exact number of days you should count between inspections. New beekeepers are often anxious to check on the bees more frequently, and that’s ok! More experienced beekeepers feel comfortable checking their hives less often. So, let’s quantify this a bit:
Spring – When the weather is warm, ideally above 60 degrees. In our area, this usually means late March through May. I encourage new beekeepers to check on their hives every 10 days. You can go longer between inspections without much issue. And, you can also check more frequently if you just can’t stand the anticipation. This level of frequency allows you to see constant growth if you just installed the hive (brand new beekeepers). This level of frequency also is helpful for second-year beekeepers who are trying to notice signs of swarming.
Summertime – In our area, this means June to late August. I encourage new beekeepers to check every two weeks. Again, there’s flexibility to check slightly more often or less without much consequence.
Winter – It’s generally not a good idea to open a hive for an inspection when it is below 60 degrees. Therefore, in the wintertime, I am rarely cracking open a hive. But, I get anxious this time of year (March) when the weather begins to turn to spring once again!
It’s important to find the right balance between giving your bees uninterrupted time to do their work and also checking on them enough to assess their health. Each beekeeper has a slightly different equation.
Keep your bees buzzin’ y’all!