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Collecting data requires consistency and purpose. Below is the inspection form the Center uses to record a colony's vitals at any point in time. The date is a crucial piece of information. Who witnessed the process? What were the external conditions? It's important to utilize a system everyone can understand, be consistent in how the information is cataloged, and of course keep a regular schedule independent of our changing human world.

 

 

 

 

 

       In Project Genesis we chose to orient from the back and left to right. For example, as one approaches a yard where hive entrances face away, the hives are numbered from the closest, left to right. Hive # 1 is the first, #2 to its right and so forth to the end of the row. Second or third row would continue the sequence.


Boxes are numbered from the bottom up. Within each box frames are noted from the back, left to right. If it is written, "Q f B2 F6", that's an abbreviation for "Queen found Box 2, Frame #6" and everyone will know she was in the upper deep brood box on the sixth frame from the left, as viewed from behind.

 

 

 

 

 Queen Data

 

  

It is ALWAYS important to confirm a colony is queenright. That's why the section on the Queen is toward the top of the form. It must be assumed there will be times when the Queen is not found - but it remains crucial to determine if she has been in the colony recently. The presence of uncapped larva means she was active within the last ten days, and eggs within three. Teams should immediately circle "Y" as soon as eggs or young larva are found.

 

The Center conducts inspections every two weeks BECAUSE a queen cell can be started and hatched in 14 days. If a supercedure occurred between the last inspection and the current one, there should be one or more queen cells still visible. Is there a hole in the side, or a neat hole at the tip? Queen cells with holes in the side indicate the Queen didn't hatch whereas those open at the bottom usually indicate a virgin within the colony. Always turn the frame to look inside any open Queen Cell - if there is an egg, larva or "white stuff" it is within five days of being started. There could very well still be a Queen present. Look carefully. Capped Queen Cells represent choices. Circle "Y"  if there are QCs and document their location and condition in the "notes" section at the bottom of the form. Once an empty cell has been documented, destroy it to avoid future confusion. Not all colonies tear down hatched cells promptly. 


Continue keeping an eye out for the Queen. Until she is found extreme cautiion should be used in removing and replacing frames. Center Queens are ALWAYS MARKED. This is to insure the colony has not replaced the Queen of earlier inspections. It also tells us the age of the Queen. We follow the International Queen Marking Color Code:

 

        COLOR      YEAR ENDING

White            1  or  6

Yellow            2  or 7

  Red              3  or  8

Green             4  or  9

Blue               0  or  5


Additionally we track which generation of Queen/ within a given year. In other words, if a colony replaces a queen in a given season, we mark her with the current year and a second color. So if a queen is born in 2018 (Red) and the colony replaces her for whatever reason, her successor would be marked Red and Green. We have had colonies replace their queens several times in one season. How would we mark the granddaughter of a red 2018 Queen?   Red and Blue. We can reason that Queen is the third generation of 2018 because if it were Blue-Red she would be a greatgranddaughter of a Queen born in 2015 - not impossible but something of which we'd would be very aware:)

 

 

Whenever an unmarked Queen is found notify the Group Leader. Most likely they will want to mark her while she is found!

 

 


Opening the Hives


In opening each hive, the upper boxes are placed on the bench next to the one being worked. It is important to place the upper deep over an inner cover or queen excluder such that the queen can't leave through the bottom and excess bees  beard on the underside. Otherwise bees will be crushed when the upper brood chamber is lifted back in place.


Begin the inspection with Box 1. The reason is because the whole time the colony is open foragers will be returning to the bottom entrance. Foragers are older and less tolerant of disturbance so it's better to be done sooner than later with this "foragers' lounge."


Teams are expected to become profficient with frame grips and to at least use them to remove the first frame and replace the last. This is to avoid dropping the frame that last little bit, and to lift the frame vertically without "rolling bees". Use the hivetool to provide as much clearance for the first frame as possible. Lift it out and scan it quickly for the Queen before setting it into the frame perch on the side of the hive. Place two frames on the perch to establish a gap that will be more difficult for the Queen to cross. You do not want her moving to frames already inspected.


Proceed frame by frame, in order and replace all frames as they were. The Center's frames have a "C" burned into the topbar and these always go to the front. As frames are replaced snug them against the previously replaced frame. The "Hoffman ears" are made so when they are clear of wax and propolis and fitted together, a proper beespace is formed between combs. Frames too far apart result in honeycomb being drawn out too far. Should such frames need to be moved to another position the comb will likely not fit and bees can be crushed. Additionally frames which have gaps tend to snap suddenly together when pressed, potentially killing bees or the Queen.


Categoring Frames


Both sides of all twenty frames in each of the colonies get classified into one of (5) categories. A single Roman Numeral "I" is placed in the appropriate slot. Each box has its own column. We use (4) parralel "I" and then cross them to denote "5". Once all (10) frames in a box have received a category and been entered on the form, they should be added vertically as a check they've all been noted.

 

 

 


Once Box 1 has been inspected, proceed to the upper hive body at its side. Leave it on the bench for the inspection (don't stack the two together until each have been seperately inspected). Spotting the Queens went up 40% when we switched to this. They had been moving into the box already inspected.


Box number 2 has its own vertical column. Please note there is a third column for totaling frames. Each category should total horizontally for both boxes. The total of vertical column three should be (20).

 

BROOD FRAMES. The single most important indicator of colony strength is frames of brood. We define this as ANY FRAME which contains ANY WORKER EGGS, LARVA, or CAPPED WORKER CELLS, regardless of how much or anything else.


HONEY/STORES FRAMES ANY frames which contain ANY capped honey or open nectar go in this category. They may contain pollen and even drone brood.


POLLEN STORES A frame would be placed into this category if ANY pollen is present BUT NOTHING ELSE. These type of frames tend to show up in early Autumn.


EMPTY COMB FRAMES  These are what they sound like - drawn comb with nothing in it. 


NOT DRAWN FRAMES This is to clarefy when a colony has been given a foundationless frame to draw out. It is a bit subjective to judge when enough comb has been built to place it in another category - but essentially when the bees have placed SOMETHING in it it is no longer "not drawn"

 

What do these categories tell us? As stated above, frames of brood are the single most diagnostic indication of the health and population of the colony, relative to the season and other colonies around it. Bees do not normally place brood over a wide number of frames, but concentrate it in a "broodnest" adjacent to adequate resources. This is most efficient for the Queen and nurse bees. Consequently, a colony tends to reach a level, or Quanta (to borrow a term from physics) where they posess sufficient resources to start another frame of brood. 


A colony in Spring which possesses the "critical mass" of (5) brood frames is strong enough to add a frame a week provided outside conditions are favorable. In contrast, a colony of only (2) frames of brood will expand more slowly, as there aren't enough foragers to bring in nectar and pollen, and not enough nurse bees to keep the brood warm. Although the Queen has the ability to lay 2,000 eggs a day, the colony doesn't yet possess the ability to grow them. Fully mature double-deep colonies with sufficient forage tend to maintain 8 - 10 frames of brood.

 

These categories are listed in order of importance - where ANY of the qualifications TRUMPS a majority of another - meaning a frame with only a tiny patch of worker brood should be counted as brood, even if it's 95% capped honey.


The colonies of Project Genesis are also seperately weighed every other week and mite boards are inserted with 24 hour drops carefully monitored. If a colony shows a high number of honey frames but doesn't weigh what it should, one can infer many of the frames are close to empty.

 

 

 

 


Each colony and every season is different. What did you notice? What was going on you'd want to remember? What should be checked closely in this colony at the next inspection? These notes are for anything you DIDN'T EXPECT or something IMPORTANT you did.

 

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