The hives are visited weekly and inspected to see how the hive is progressing, the health of the bees and to verify that the Queen is still present and is maintaining a good population of brood.
The bee keeper does not have to see the Queen to know if she is present. By looking at the cells in the brood chamber, you can see the density of brood, and cells in different stages of development – eggs, young and older larvae, pupae and capped brood cells. If eggs are present you know that the Queen was there in the past 2 days, if larvae are present you know she was there 3 to 8 days previously.
This is the time that swarming can occur and the weekly inspections will let you know when additional supers must be added to provide room for the increasing hive population since the Queen can lay up to 2,000 eggs per day with warm weather and a large honey flow. If this is not done, up to half the hive will leave looking for another location. The remaining hive is useless until they produce a new Queen or a new one is introduced.
By the end of July or early August, the Queen begins to lay fewer eggs, so that the chance of swarming is reduced.
In normal years, the first honey extraction is done in mid- to late July. However, this year in eastern Ontario because of the heavy rainy conditions, the honey production is down over 50 percent from the norm and it is just now that some bee keepers have started extracting.
The weekly inspections include a check on the amount of mite infestation ( Varroa and Tracheal mites) If the infestation is at a level high enough to warrant treatment, any honey supers must be removed, since no treatments can be administered while supers are on. This could contaminant the honey with chemical residues. If the levels are not serious enough, treatment can be delayed until later when the honey has been removed and prior to supering up to obtain honey from the late honey flow in August and early September.