Being a beekeeper forces you to use most acute observation skills. Honeybees which are insects are harder to read than any other animals you rear. We know when a dog wags its tail, it’s probably happy. We know that a growl means “Stay back!” But honeybees require you to learn a whole new language, and you can use that language to learn to care for them the best way you can. Here are three signs something’s just not right with your honeybees while they are on their beehive.
1. Bad Odor
Truthfully, a beehive should smell nothing but sweet. A healthy one emits the warm smell of honey and warm wax. With a really sharp nose, you may smell the cedar or pine that comprises the wooden ware and, of course, the smell of your smoker. If a hive smells bad—sour, rotten, like ammonia or something else off—start to investigate. You may have a disease, or a pest issue, such as a mice infestation. Mice like to urinate, contributing their own less-than-pleasant aroma.
2. Few or no bees present
A healthy hive is bursting at the seams with bees. If the hive seems empty, something is most definitely wrong. Bees also abscond when their hive conditions are not to their liking, such as what happens when mice, ants, hive beetles, wax moths or other pests move in.
3. No Queen
Without a queen, a colony’s days are numbered—unless they can make a new queen successfully or you re-queen the colony. Thankfully, a queenless colony at the right time of year is not the hardest obstacle to overcome, but it may be indicative of other problems or setbacks the colony faces as a whole. You can easily know if your beehive is queenless – you won’t see it, despite going through the hive with a fine tooth comb. Even the most thorough beekeeper can miss a queen. Some queens are very crafty and fast.
If you are a beekeeper you should be able to have these facts. After all,prevention is better than cure.