Beekeepers can avail themselves of a healthy colony checklist that can help take the guesswork out of hive monitoring.
Developed by Bayer Bee Care researcher and apiologist Dick Rogers, the checklist includes six conditions to assess when inspecting hives. Those are:
- Are all stages of brood and instars present in appropriate amounts?
- Are there sufficient adult bees by age structure to care for the brood and perform necessary tasks in the colony?
- Is there a young (less than 1 year old) productive laying queen present?
- Are there sufficient water, forage, and food stores available for the hive?
- Are there any stressors present that could lead to reduced survival and/or growth potential?
- Is there suitable space now and for the near future to accommodate current and expected colony size?
According to Rogers, the questions asked above require basic training and knowledge of bee behavior.
Rogers recommends not going it alone but conducting the inspections in tandem where one person does the visual inspection and the other records notes and observations.
Information on the healthy colony checklist is available online.