Adventures in Beekeeping: Winter hive inspection

Posted by on January 14, 2014 at 6:15 am.

This winter, I’d occasionally look at our beehive and wonder how the honeybees were doing.


The above photo is a partial view of our property. We live on four acres; mostly woods.

2013 was my first season beekeeping, additionally I got a late start to beekeeping. Our honeybees didn’t arrive until the beginning of June. Many honeybee suppliers had delayed shipping because of the unseasonably cold weather we were experiencing in Maryland. The bees are shipped from Southern distributors, while their weather was fine ours wasn’t. Just to give you an idea, honeybees usually arrive in early April.  Since they were shipped late they had already missed a nectar flow. Naturally, I was concerned. I wanted to make sure they had enough honey stores to survive the winter.

A few weeks ago, I saw them buzzing about when it was “warmer” outside. Based on the activity outside the hive I knew the honeybees were alive, but the temperature had dropped since that time, getting well below zero (on some nights) right around Christmas time and the beginning of 2014. My main concern was their honey stores. Did they have enough? Based on the few hive inspections I’d done during the warmer months, I thought they had enough honey, but I still second guessed myself. I’m a new beekeeper, yes I’ve read a lot over the years, but actually having honeybees is a new experience.

This past weekend, I took advantage of the “warmer weather” (50f /10c) and went out and inspected the hive. I suited up and headed outside to inspect the hive.


Hive Inspection_3.1.12.14

A quick inspection (I was only in there 10 seconds – seriously) showed me that they appear to have enough honey, and there are enough honeybees to hopefully survive the winter.

Hive Inspection_1.1.12.14

Even though things looked promising, I still added some of the honey I’d pulled back into their hive. After all, it is theirs…

I’m doing a lot of things that most beekeepers seemingly don’t do. I’m not in my hive a lot, although I do watch these amazing creatures often. I don’t treat the honeybees with chemicals, and my main reason for having them is not for their honey. Yes, I’ve been “counseled” by some well meaning beekeepers on my behavior, but I doubt I’ll change. Some of the things that are done simply don’t make sense to me? So of course, I question why it’s being done.

My approach is hands off. The honeybees know what needs to be done, I feel that I don’t need to be in their hive constantly causing disruption. This past season, I only kept three eight ounce jars of honey and one of those was given away as a gift.





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