I believe we are entering our 5th year as beekeepers. For a while it was easy to remember “that year we had a really strong hive, ” or “that winter that was so mild,” but we’re noticing lately that things are starting to blur together. I’ll say, “Last year our hive swarmed and we recaptured it.” Then, immediately, I think – wait, was that last year or two years ago? The most likely explanation is that I’m losing my mind, but my husband is nice enough to assure me that it just means we need to start keeping better records. And by better records, I mean, we should start keeping records!
So I scoured the internet looking for hive inspection checklists because why re-invent the wheel? There are many, many nice options to choose from. In fact, Dadant sells a packet of them for less than $5. However, I did end up reinventing the wheel because I wanted to checklist that was specific to our needs. I also wanted one that could be filled out quickly with either check marks, a Y or an N, or maybe by jotting in a quick number. We don’t treat with chemicals or medicate, so I didn’t need extra space for that and we only really take a few frames of honey for ourselves each fall.
The red link below is a PDF version of the Hive Inspection Record I created. I only made columns for 5 hives because that’s the most we’ve ever had at one time. It would have been ideal for it to take up only one page, but extending it to a second page gave me room for notes, should we ever decide to treat or take any actions that might require explanation. I’m hoping these sheets will (1) help determine a baseline for what a “normal,” healthy hive looks like at different months and (2) maybe provide some insight into why our hives aren’t surviving the winter. Additionally, this will hopefully prevent us from having to do the same research again and again. As we build up some good records, I’m hoping we’ll be able to look back over past seasons and glean some information that way.