Greetings fellow beekeepers and nature enthusiasts! Today marks our first hive inspection of 2024. With the temperature hovering around a comfortable 60° Fahrenheit and a gentle breeze in the air, it's the perfect time to check in on our buzzing friends after the long winter months.

I'm thrilled to report that both of my honeybee colonies, Gage and Gracie, have not only weathered the winter but have thrived! Their success is likely attributed to the ample resources they had stored up during the colder months. It's an important reminder of ensuring our colonies have sufficient food reserves to sustain them through the winter. My local beekeeping group often highlights the significance of hive resources in determining winter survival rates, and this year's outcome confirms that notion.

two hives in an apiary with insulated winter covers removed
Removing the winter covers from the hives in the apiary at the end of winter.

Cleaning up the Apiary

Before delving into the hive inspections, it's essential to tidy up the apiary to ensure optimal conditions for our bees. I began by removing the quilt boxes and insulation that provided extra warmth during winter. Next, I carefully cleaned off the removable formboards under the screened bottom boards, checking for any debris or signs pests that might have accumulated. Weeding around the hives was also on the agenda to maintain a tidy and pest-free environment. Given my encounter with wax moth infestation last year, I made sure to inspect under the hives for any signs of wax moth eggs, taking proactive measures to prevent their reappearance.

mostly full frame of honey pulled from an overwintered honey bee colony
Frame of honey pulled from a honey super left over from winter.
beehive fondant on a shim
Most of the fondant eaten over winter used as reserves in case they run out of honey


With the apiary spick and span, it was time to dive into the hive inspections. Both Gage and Gracie hives greeted me with a bustling activity as soon as I approached. Upon opening the top boxes of each hive, I was delighted to find approximately 20% fondant remaining, indicating that the bees had ample food to sustain them through the remaining transition into spring.

Inspecting further, I observed that the top boxes boasted a remarkable 80% honey content, a testament to the bees' industrious efforts during the previous nectar flow. The frames were abuzz with activity, with bees covering every inch and pollen-laden foragers returning to the hive—a promising sign of a thriving colony gearing up for the season ahead. I left the bottom boxes untouched to inspect at a later time, but I am assuming there's ample honey left since the colony tend to cluster at the top of the hive to sustain their warmth over the winter months.

honey bees congregating at the hive entrance on a warm day
Bee activity at the Gage Hive entrance on the first warm day of 2024.

Goals for Next Inspection

As I wrapped up the inspections, I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride and satisfaction in the resilience of my bee colonies. Looking ahead, my goals for the next inspection are clear: I plan to delve deeper into each hive, checking for the presence of the queen and her precious brood. Additionally, I'll be inspecting the bottom brood box to assess the colony's expansion and overall health. If necessary, I'll remove any excess fondant and provide supplemental feed to ensure our bees have everything they need to continue thriving.

In conclusion, our first hive inspection of 2024 has been a resounding success, reaffirming the importance of diligent hive management and adequate resource provision. As we eagerly anticipate the arrival of spring, let's continue to nurture and support our bee colonies, recognizing the invaluable role they play in our ecosystem and beyond.

Happy beekeeping!