The following checks should be made every time you do an inspection. If you have any doubts about your bees whilst you are inspecting them please contact your mentor or your local Bee Inspector.


FLYING – Only inspect if the bees are flying freely.

DEAD BEES – Are there dead bees outside the hive? The odd one is no problem; also a pile of drones at the end of the season will show that the swarm season is over.

CRAWLING BEES – Are there signs of weak crawling bees on the floor outside the hive? If so, this may be Acarine or Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus.

ENTRANCE BLOCK – Is the entrance block the right size? Too small and bees will have to queue to get in, too large and they will find it difficult to defend the hive.

POLLEN GOING IN – Are there bees flying in with pollen on their legs? If you see this then you probably have a laying queen. Don’t worry if you don’t see pollen.

BALL OF BEES UNDER THE HIVE – Have you got a large number of bees under the hive in a ball? If you see this then your bees have tried to swarm and are looking after the old queen who has crawled under the hive.


STORES – Do the bees have enough honey and pollen stored for their needs?

EGGS – Where you find eggs, have they been laid in the bottom of the cell? If you find eggs you know you had a laying queen up to three days ago.

YOUNG LAVA – Do you have uncapped lava and are they curled up in a C shape and pearly white. If you see any other sort of uncapped lava they need investigation.

OLDER LAVA – Where the lava are capped, is the capping flat (girls) or domed (boys)? Any sign of sunken cappings must be investigated.

QUEEN CUPS AND CELLS – Are there signs of these and if so do they have an egg or lava in them? If they do it may be the first sign of swarming and you will need to do an artificial swarm. NB It may be supersedure and so you will need to find the queen before doing anything.

TEMPERAMENT – Is this good or bad? Bad temper may be a sign of no queen or bad weather.

BEES – Do the workers look healthy – any sign of varroa or deformed wing virus?

DRONES – If you see drones are they nice and big and healthy looking?

QUEEN – Have you seen the queen? Is she marked and clipped?