Importance of beekeeping records


Posted by Andy Sivell | Posted in Beekeeping advice, Mini nucs | Posted on 13-10-2010

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With inarguable logic this was to have been called ‘Preparing a mini nuc for winter: part 2’, except that it isn’t really part 2. It would have been part 2 if I’d followed Robert’s instructions or Ted Hooper’s instructions, or indeed my own plan, but I got side-tracked. No, that’s not it – I became entranced.

The one thing I have got going for me is that I keep records. Detailed records. Almost anally retentively so. My friend and fellow new-bee beekeeper Mark recently invited me over to see his Beehaus, and – in addition to its elegant design – I was immediately impressed by how carefully arranged the beekeeping equipment in his shed was. Everything laid out just so. But even Mark was impressed by how spectacularly over-the-top my bee colony record keeping was. Put it this way – I keep an Excel spreadsheet.

Honey bee larvae

Honey bee larvae in various stages of development (photo courtesy of Tony and

I also made a voice recording of my last inspection, although to be fair if you’ve ever struggled to take notes with your fingers stuck to each other and to the pencil, before flapping like a chicken to unglue the damn notebook from your hands, you’ll realise that using a digital voice-recorder is far from extravagant.

Why is all this significant? Well, for starters I now know from listening back to the tape that I spent 40 minutes inspecting the main colony. Forty minutes! I’ve seen experienced guys do ten beehives in that time. Also, in the course of my going backwards and forwards (trying to find the queen, inevitably) I lost track of how many frames contained brood. In the end I convinced myself that there were only two. My beautifully transcribed record however, now shows that there were four.

Part 2 of the plan was to have involved my moving a frame of brood from the main colony to mini-nuc. Instead, I ended up transferring another frame of stores. Which is fair enough, because while I was inspecting it (the mini-nuc) I was struck by how low on stores it was, despite it taking the bees two weeks to drain the contact feeder I gave them. My records now reveal that they’d actually been polishing off the nectar on the two frames Robert transferred in from the main colony.

So, lessons learned this week: take less time over inspections, stick to your plan, and keep records – because being able to refer back to them can help enormously.

I guess one out of three ain’t bad. Part 2 next week.


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