Brood inspection is vital for beekeepers and is how you can identify the health of a colony. The inspection is a process that involves examining the brood nest, which is the area of the beehive where the queen bee lays her eggs. During brood inspection, beekeepers examine the eggs, larvae, and pupae to determine the health and productivity of the colony. The inspection process typically occurs every seven to ten days during the peak season.
Why are they important?
The primary reason for brood inspection is to ensure the health and productivity of the colony. Regular inspections allow beekeepers to identify and address any potential issues before they become major problems. By checking the brood nest for signs of disease, pests, or other issues, beekeepers can take action to prevent the spread of diseases, reduce pest infestations, and improve overall colony health.
What to look for
During a brood inspection, beekeepers will look for several signs of a healthy colony. These signs include:
- Presence of eggs: The presence of eggs indicates that the queen is active, healthy and laying eggs
- Larvae: Larvae are the next stage of development after eggs. They should be present in all phases of development, indicating the queen is laying eggs at a healthy rate
- Pupae: Pupae are the final stage of development before adult bees emerge. Healthy pupae should be smooth, deform-free, and entirely capped with wax
- Brood pattern: The brood pattern refers to how the eggs, larvae, and pupae are arranged in the cells. A healthy brood pattern should be consistent and dense, with no gaps or empty cells
- Brood quantity: The number of eggs, larvae, and pupae present in the brood nest can indicate the overall health and productivity of the colony. A healthy colony will have a high quantity of brood present
How often should you conduct a brood inspection?
Brood inspections should be conducted regularly during the peak season, which is typically from spring to early autumn. The exact frequency of inspections will depend on several factors, including the colony’s size, the hive’s strength, and the weather conditions.
Generally, beekeepers should conduct brood inspections every two weeks during the peak season. This allows them to monitor the health and productivity of the colony, identify any potential issues, and take action as needed.
However, beekeepers may need to conduct brood inspections in certain situations more frequently. For example, if a colony has recently been split or a new queen has been introduced, more frequent inspections may be necessary to ensure the colony is adjusting properly. During the winter months, brood inspections are typically less frequent or may not be necessary at all. This is because the bees are in a state of dormancy and are not actively raising brood.
It’s important to note that while regular brood inspections are crucial for maintaining healthy and productive colonies, they should also be conducted with care and respect for the bees. Beekeepers should avoid disturbing the bees unnecessarily, as this can cause stress and potentially harm the colony. Additionally, beekeepers should always wear protective gear and take necessary precautions to avoid getting stung.
Flow Hive has a great range of protective gear, which we love and use regularly when conducting brood inspections. They also have tools such as smokers, which helps to mask bee alarm pheromones that can trigger a negative response. To learn more about beekeeping, head over to our blog to read our complete educational series.