Beekeeping

Bee Observation: 14 tips to predict issues

Observing your hive from the outside

You can tell a lot about what’s going on in your colony by watching it from the outside, and it can be really fun to do this! Here are some bee observation tips:

  1. If you watch your bees come and go regularly, you’ll get familiar with their normal habits. So if you notice a sudden change, this could be a sign that there’s a problem with the colony.
  2. You should see bees returning to the hive carrying balls of pollen on their legs, which is a sign that your bees are foraging successfully.
  3. Young bees go on orientation flights to get to know the area around the hive, usually in the afternoon. This leads to a lot of activity that can be mistaken for bees preparing to swarm.
    There are two types of orientation flights: short flights around the hive, and longer flights for gathering information on foraging.
  4. The amount of activity around the hive will vary at different times of the day. A healthy colony will have bees coming and going virtually all day long.
  5. If you have multiple colonies, you can compare the activity levels during different times of the day. Some colonies are more active in the morning, others later in the day.
  6. It’s normal to have some dead bees in front of the hive, or at another location if the undertaker bees prefer to carry them away from the hive. If you notice a lot of dead bees, or a sudden increase in the number of dead bees it’s a sign of something wrong.If you check the dead bees you can see if they are mostly workers or drones. If there are a lot of dead drones, it indicates the colony may be a bit stressed, but seeing a lot of dead workers usually indicates something more serious.
    If you see a lot of dead bees with their tongues sticking out, they have likely been exposed to insecticide somewhere in the area.
  7. Crawling bees with shrivelled wings are a sign of the deformed wing virus that is associated with Varroa mites.
  8. You can learn a lot by checking the debris on the tray or corflute slider. Look out for mites, beetles, or larvae in this tray; seeing a lot of them could indicate you need to check inside the hive for pests and take appropriate action.
  9. If you see little white flakes of wax in the tray, this is a sign that your bees are healthy and building new comb.
  10. If you see wax moths outside the hive that’s usually not a problem – though if you ever see them in the actual comb it could be an issue.
  11. You may see your bees fanning their wings at the entrance of the hive, which they do to ventilate the hive and regulate the temperature.
  12. If you see the bees lifting their abdomens high in the air and fan their wings backward, then they are fanning a pheromone called Nasanov, which guides the other bees back to the hive.
  13. Bearding is when bees gather around the outside of the hive in a cluster. If they are quite evenly spread out across the surface, they are most likely doing this for temperature regulation. If the bees are more densely clustered in a ball, they may be preparing to swarm.
  14. Washboarding is a behavior where bees gather in lines near the hive entrance and move back and forward in formation while fanning. Why exactly they do this is a mystery!

Just by observing the hive from the outside, you can get a lot of information about bees and this is important for your bee cultivation in the future.

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Originally posted 2020-08-25 19:42:29.

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