How important is it to inspect bottom box in a 2-deep hive?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by BSAChris, Jun 26, 2013.

  1. BSAChris

    BSAChris New Member

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    When I was at a beekeeping seminar this weekend (and being chased around, and caught, by Russians...)(bees that is) we had to do a full inspection of both top and bottom boxes of our assigned hives at the instructor's yard.

    I am wondering what the purpose of inspecting both brood boxes is during the summer? What can be learned from the bottom that can't be learned from the top?

    I understand that if I don't see any fresh eggs upstairs, I'll need to check downstairs for eggs to ensure the queen is still alive and laying. And that there could be queen cups, or swarm cells at the bottom that I can't see while working through just the top box. However, assuming the bottom is relatively full (having put the top box on after bottom was 80% full), and assuming I see eggs, larva, brood, stores upstairs, and there is room to expand, and the bees aren't noticeably annoyed about something (besides me) is there a good reason to proceed with tearing the hive apart to study the bottom box? It seems unnecessarily disruptive.

    Looking forward to your answers! I know there will be many perspectives :smile:
     
  2. riverrat

    riverrat New Member

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    Well heres how the rat does it. I have hives I havent looked in in a couple of years except only to lift the lid and peek in. I choice instead to watch the girls at the front door. are they coming and going like a normal hive. Bringing in the groceries. Are we seeing orientation flights and other things to be convienced the hive is healthy. I might crack the lid and look at how many frames of bees. Depending on the time of year I will crack open between the top and bottom deep and look for swarm cells. If I see any problems I will check the top box. If I am still not satisfied to whats going on I will go into the second deep but very seldom does this happen.
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I am the opposite of riverrat. Bees store from the top down. They eat from the bottom up. You may have a full top deep, but they have moved everything up and the bottom box may be empty. How do you know if they are running out of room, since all empty space will be below the brood and honey? You may have a top box full of brood, with little honey, and an empty bottom box. OR, you may have two boxes totally packed and need more room, which causes a hive to swarm.
     
  4. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    I think it depends on what you're after out of the inspection. If you just want to check on progress in a new hive, a peek under the lid will tell you everything you need to know. If you are checking for swarm cells, then you need to check between the boxes. If you want to make up a Nuc or a split, you need to find the queen and do a full inventory to pick what you need.

    I do inspections because I'm nosy and I like to know what's going on in there. It's not really for the bee's benefit or management purposes. I alternate. One week I'll set the top brood aside and inspect about 5 frames in the bottom. The next week I only look in the top.

    I take cues from the bees as to how much they will tolerate. I don't wear protective gear, so I inspect until they start getting agitated. Sometimes that's 5 minutes, sometimes it's 30, but they let me know when they've had enough snooping. I go slow and gentle and I seldom have any bees other than returning foragers flying around during inspections.
     
  5. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    If I am doing an "inspection", I go through both. I usually remove and set aside the top box (after checking the bottom of the frames for swarm signs) without even removing the inner cover, and go through the bottom box first. If there is drone larvae/pupae exposed when I remove the top box it is a good opportunity to look for mites on the exposed brood as well.
    Once I know what's going on in the bottom I can decide if I need to go through the top.
    Everyone will probably have a different answer, it's just one of those types of questions. :mrgreen:
     
  6. Zookeep

    Zookeep Active Member

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    I kinda do a little of both, peak under the lid if its a smaller hive, most of the time I just pull supers off and tilt the top brood box and look up, puff of smoke on the lower and can see some of the sides of the frames, if I see good brood capped or otherwise I close it up, if anything hits me as funny I start taking the hole thing apart, its all a matter of choice and what you see
     
  7. BSAChris

    BSAChris New Member

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    Okay - thanks for all the different perspectives and rationales - I appreciate this!

    I think my general plan will be to have a look in the top brood box occasionally to ensure there are eggs (if no eggs, then I'll look lower) - I do spend a lot of time (several times a day) lurking around by the hives watching and listening to the bees come and go, and every day I crack open their telescoping lids to see if they are walking around! A bit obsessive I suppose, but at least its not tearing apart any of their work.

    I'm somewhat more knowledgeable about what bees do for a living than I was last year, when I wanted to look at every frame in every hive every week, and now I'm getting to the point where I trust they'll do their job.

    The only thing noted above that I haven't encountered yet are swarm cells, so I may be taken by surprise. A couple of people here mentioned the swarm cells would be between the two brood boxes - would I not find these while I'm examining frames from the top box?
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    ""would I not find these while I'm examining frames from the top box?""

    You may, but many times they stick out far enough to be destroyed when you lift the frame. If you want to use swarm cells for new nucs, it's better to see them before lifting the frame.
     
  9. BSAChris

    BSAChris New Member

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    Good point. I'll remember that when I get to the point of wanting to make nucs - probably next spring! SO much to learn this year, although I feel much smarterer this year than last!