Hive Inspection – 24 03 2012

General Notes and Info

This was our first proper hive inspection for 2012.  We had a sudden and sustained warm spell a couple of weeks back and the bees started foraging so I had already put a super on each of the three hives.  I didn’t delve into the hives at that point as it was a little too cold to be splitting the cluster – but I was keen to get the supers on as we were caught out last year with an early nectar flow and the bees ran out of storage space.

I’m sure we was not the only beekeepers in the South East of England doing their first hive inspections on 24th March as it was a glorious day – hitting about 19° C with little or no wind.

We keep our bees in National hives – and later added an eek on the brood boxes to give us 14×12 brood frames.  The idea behind this was to give the bees more space than provided by a standard National brood box.  The alternative to this was to add either a super box above or another brood – but we didn’t want to be handling two layers within the brood section of the hives in fear of losing the queen.  In actual practice the 14×12 frames are quite difficult to handle – especially when they have a reasonable amount of stores on them.

All three hives were clogged up with propolis so we cleaned the top rails to help with future hive inspections.

Bees in good mood in general, but hive 4 were a little more protective than the others and I got my first sting of the season – on my thumb!  Inadvertently crushed a bee when picking up a frame and it paid me back.   After this there were three or four bees constantly buzzing us – and even following up to 20 foot away from hives.

Hive Records
Presently we have three hives – numbered 2, 3 and 4.  No. 1 spot is reserved for an additional hive or swarm box should it come about.

Hive 2
We spotted the clipped and marked queen (white) – and she has laid up on three frames with eggs, larvae at various stages and capped brood.  This included a few capped drone brood too.  There was not a great amount of stores on this hive outside of the three frames with brood on.  There was no stores in the super.

Hive 3
We did not spot the queen in this hive (she is unmarked and not clipped), but there was plenty of eggs, larvae at various stages and capped brood – across four frames.  There was plenty of stores and the beginnings of stores in the super.

Hive 4
We spotted the clipped and marked queen (white) – and she has laid up on four frames with eggs, larvae at various stages and capped brood.   There was plenty of stores and at least two frames in the super that were almost full.  None were capped off though.


  1. jane says:

    Hi there. I am a newbie beekeeper and have a national brood box and am thinking about laying space for my queen. With hindsight would you choose to have a brood and a half? – The thought of inspecting this is quite daunting as I obviously don’t want to lose her. Look forward to hearing your comments. Jane

    • Kevin says:

      Hi Jane

      Came to the same conclusion as you last year, a standard National just doesn’t seem to give a good queen enough room. We did consider brood-and-half and double-brood but, like you, we was put off by the thought of having two layers to deal with on inspections. We opted to add and eek to standard National and have 14×12 frames. Benefit is only one layer to deal with, but drawback is that frames are heavy and awkward to handle when they have stores on them.

      Hope that helps.