Examination of a Bee Colony

Examination of a Bee Colony

    Success of beekeeping also depends upon proper understanding of bee behaviour and manipulating the colonies accordingly. For manipulation of colonies in modern hives, as per needs of the bees, examination is frequently required.
    Handling of bee colonies:
    • For management of honey bees in modern beekeeping, examination of colonies forms one of the important aspects. But whenever we talk about examination of bee colonies, there is general fear of stinging by bees. It is to be made clear here that if we are aware of bee behaviour, stinging can be prevented. Bees sting only for their own protection and after stinging they die. If all the precautions are taken before examination of colonies we can avoid stinging by bees.

    Aim of examination of bee colonies: A bee colony is examined to check its working and to determine its requirements at a particular time, since these vary during different parts of the annual cycle of a bee colony. When a bee colony is opened, make the following observations:
    • Whether a bee colony has sufficient food or it needs artificial feeding. Each colony, depending upon its strength, should invariably have at least 2-5kg of stores all the time
    • Whether the queen is present or not? If present whether laying satisfactory. If absent colony needs a new queen.
    • Whether there are sufficient combs for egg laying by the queen and to store nectar or not. If not provide more frames.
    • Whether there are any of the enemies or diseases in the colony. If yes, manage them accordingly.
    Honey bees do not like much of interference since it affects their normal working. Therefore, the colonies should be disturbed as little as possible. It is suggested that during built-up period of the colony it is examined once a week whereas during off-seasons only once or twice a month.
    Requirements for examination of bee colonies:
    Hive tool, bee veil, apiary record register, measuring scale or grid, smoker
    • Before handling bee colonies it is better to wear a bee veil (Fig. 7.4).
    • Do not wear black or dark clothing as bees are furious to black colour.
    • Any kind of perfume or strong smelling hair oils or metals like ring, watch etc which would induce bees to sting, should be removed before handling the bees.
    • Do not be shaky while handling bees. Take care and avoid quick and jerking movements.
    • If a bee stings (Fig. 7.5), do not get nervous. Gently pull out the sting with the sharp edge of hive tool or finger nail from the base (Fig. 7.6) and not from the top without squeezing the venom out of it. Rub some grass on the stung area to mask the smell of alarm pheromone which otherwise induces other workers to sting in that area.
    • Do not crush any bee while taking out or putting the frames back in a colony.
    • Be careful about queen and avoid crushing it.
    • Hive should not be opened on a windy, chilly day or the period when bees are not working outside the hive.



Last modified: Friday, 20 July 2012, 6:58 AM