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Your host---For Sale--Bee Talk---Days Gone By 

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Hello Everyone,

March has arrived and I would like to offer you a simple but efficient system for performing a hive inspection. Hive inspections are important, but it is also important how you perform that inspection. I have over the years developed a system that will allow you to work your hive efficiently, and with ease. It is important for you to get in and out of the hive without causing much interruption to the daily activity. I have outlined this system in my book; “Beekeeping A Personal Journey” as well.

1. Always pry up the second comb closest to you first. The first comb is usually anchored to the side wall in several places by the bees, and it is much harder to remove first.

2. Once you removed the second comb, hold it to the side and look at the face of the third comb for the queen. You will be able to locate the queen much easier if you adopt this system because you are always looking ahead to the face of the next comb. (Don’t worry about looking for the queen on the comb in your hand first, because if the queen is on it you already have her.)

3. If you don’t see the queen on the face of the third comb, then inspect the second comb (the one in your hand). After inspecting this comb for all of the things you should be looking for, stand it on its end up against the back of the hive to avoid kicking it. By leaving this comb out, you have provided more space to work in. (In the Kelley bee catalog you can find a new comb rack that hooks onto the side of the hive, and gives you a place rest that first comb.)

4. Next, remove the third comb; hold it to the side while you inspect the face of the fourth comb for the queen.

5. After inspecting the third comb place it next to the first comb which is still in the hive next to the wall.

6. Remove the fourth comb, hold it to the side, and inspect the face of the fifth comb for the queen.

Note: If at any time during the inspection you find the queen, you should inspect her carefully and slide the frame back into the hive. Never place the frame that has the queen on it outside the hive no matter which frame you find her on.

7. After looking at the face of the fifth comb, inspect the fourth comb. After inspecting the forth comb, place it back inside the hive next to the third comb.

8. Remove the fifth comb, hold it to the side, and inspect the face of the sixth comb for the queen.

9. After inspecting the fifth comb place it back inside the hive next to the fourth comb.

10. Remove the sixth comb, hold it to the side, and inspect the face of the seventh comb for the queen.

11. After inspecting the sixth comb place it back in the hive next to the fifth comb.

Keep working the hive this way until all of the combs have been inspected.

Always place the combs back in the exact position they were in when you started. The last comb you remove should be placed back where you got it. Then, all you need to do is slide each of the other combs into their original position. Remove the first comb, which is still on the side wall, inspect it, and place it back on the wall. Take the second comb, which is outside the hive, and place it in the second position in the hive. At this time all of the combs are back in their original position, and the inspection is complete.

Get in the habit of looking for the queen herself, not the colored dot on her back. Beekeepers who order their queens to be marked always get in a habit of looking for the colored dot instead of the queen herself when they inspect their hives. Sometimes this dot fades, and is not visible. Sometimes the same queen you started with is not there any longer, and the new queen doesn’t have a colored dot. Use the colored dot as a sec­ondary means of locating the queen, not the primary means.

You will know you have become skilled at opening and working your hive when you find the queen still laying eggs in the cells as you watch. That means you have performed the inspection with very little disruption to the hive, which is what you should strive for. This information and much more is included in my book “Beekeeping: A Personal Journey.”

I hope this helps you as much as it has me over the years.

Enjoy your bees!


For those of you who live within fifty miles of Lone Star Farms, take advantage of "Lone Star Farms Apiary Inspection Service." Contact Dennis for details.

If you belong to a beekeeping club and would like me to come teach one of the class topics that are listed on the class page, please have your president contact me. The four hour class would have to be held on a Saturday and there is a fifteen person minimum. Education is key to successful beekeeping management. Thanks


If you have purchased one or both of my beekeeping books and have enjoyed them, please go to Amazon and write a positive review for me. I would appreciate you taking the five minutes to do so.


Bee Talk

I have gotten this question a few times over the years, so I decided to post it here.

Are all of the worker bees in the hive sisters or half-sisters?

A virgin queen will mate with ten to twenty (maybe more) drones while on her mating “flights”. Each drones sperm that she mates with will be stored inside the queen in layers. (These layers are how you can have a nice gentle hive one day and then find your hive aggressive the next day. If you didn't have layers and only a big mixing bowl of sperm, your bees would be aggressive all the time.) The sperm layers will remain separate from one another. The sperm is not all mixed-up together. The queen will use up one sperm layer at a time. When one layer is used up, the queen will work on the next layer. That is why you can have a real gentle hive for a long time and then the hive turns more aggressive even though you have the same queen in the hive. That aggressive behavior is from a more aggressive drone gene pool. When that layer of sperm is used up, the next layer may produce different traits.

With this information in mind, we can assume that all the workers that are from the same sperm layer will be sisters. They will each have the same mother and father. When that sperm layer is used-up and the next sperm layer begins, the queen will be laying half-sisters to the first sperm layer and to the following sperm layers because they will have the same mother but a different father. So, each layer will be sisters to that specific sperm layer and half-sisters to any other sperm layer.


Days Gone By

I posted this article in our very first Newsletter back in 2010. It's been my favorite article because it shows how much things have changed. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.