Your Second Spring Hive Inspection: Pollen, Brood, and IPM

So, you have been inside you hive by now or you have begun planning for your inspection. This is wonderful! You will be prepared to look for honey stores remaining, pollen stores remaining. Your First Hive Inspection was all about ensuring your bees dont have shortages in honey production, and how you can feed your bees to help them through. What is also very important to look at, is the consumption of pollen. Have a look at this generalized chart that I have put together for you to help you visualize the growth pattern of brood, consumption of stores, and pollen flow.

seasonalgrowthI recommend that you aren’t doing these maneuvers of comb until you have:

  • Climatic averages: Nighttime around -5c
  • Weather average: 14 day forecast of +12c

What I want you to look at is the March-April area. You can see that pollen consumption is on the increase because of brood development. This is the ideal situation. You want as much brood development in your hive for:

  • Succession: replace winter bees with summer bees
  • Number of bees available to produce wax in the dandelion flow
  • Number of bees available to gather nectar and pollen during the dandelion flow
  •  Increases resiliency for disease if you have larger numbers of bees by mid-April and well fed future workers
  •  Ensures a hive has a healthy queen or increases the number of eggs for the workers to build a future queen out of  if she fails
  • If you don’t have enough pollen (at least 2 frames of pollen) in your beehive, it may be smart to feed your bees pollen pattys (Global Patty’s in Airdrie) or raw pollen grains (Light Cellar, Bowness sells some from Vancouver Island).
  • How do you inspect your bees to do the following:4
  • Increase brood production
  • Decrease ‘Honey Bounding’ of your queen

Langstroth Hives:

If you put your hives to bed last year the way that A.B.C recommended, you had:


Top Bar Hives


You are wanting to have the honey on top because your brood nest will move up in winter, and they will need access to food. The switch takes place as weather warms up, to allow the bees to move down and access the honey. You make room in the top box by adding empty combs (no drone comb!) in the top box with pollen surrounding the brood. If you are going to use a pollen patty, you will want to place the patty above the brood in the top box for their ease of access. If you don’t have honey available, feed your bees Bee Candy. It is too early in the spring to be Feeding With Syrup.

Other things to do in this inspection?

Integrated Pest Management and Varroa Mite Sampling

  1. Sticky Bottom Board

Sugar Dusting Honey BeesThis is the best way to sample entire colony. Cover a white piece of heavy white card stock with Vaseline and slide into the hive on top of the bottom board. As mites fall or are removed from bees they will stick to the board. Leave board in hive for 72 hours (divide that number by 3 to get your 24 hour mite drop count), remove and count number of mites. More than 8 indicates that mites/24 hour interval = levels are beyond the normal threshold. Ideally a beekeeper will keep doing this throughout the Spring and Fall months to trap mites, but also to keep an eye on mite population changes and to aid in making decisions on potential management (treatment) choices.

2.  Sugar Dusting

When you use a baking sifter filled with powdered sugar to lightly dust your bees, you are not only feeding your bees, youSugar Dusting Honey Bees are encouraging the bees to groom eachother. This will increase the rate of mites dropping on to your mite board below. Increasing the capture of mites (removing them from your beehive) but also increasing the success of your analysis of mite loads.

If you do this, you should have great success with brood build up in the spring, assuming that your queen is vital and energetic!

2 responses to “Your Second Spring Hive Inspection: Pollen, Brood, and IPM

  1. Hi happy April,
    I definitely have mites
    Im going to try the sticky bottom board w sugar dusting

    What do I do if my numbers are high?


    • you are going to have to decide if you want to treat your honey bees (oxalic, formic, and other treatments like apivar and apistan). You also have an option to remove/kill your queen and have your colony produce a new queen cell themselves. This will break the brood cycle. You will want to sugar dust aggressively once the queen cell is over 14 days old for 3 weeks. I have had relative success with this plan but it is much more time intensive than treatment. Have a look at this link to help you guide yourself through the process:


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