Colony Records

Colony Records

Records should be kept by everyone, so you know at a glance what is happening in your colonies.

When I started beekeeping I had an exercise book and wrote an essay on each colony at each inspection. This I soon realised was way over the top.

Record cards can be bought or downloaded, There's a basic one here

Many record a lot of information that isn't needed. I only record what tells me about the state of the colony.

Computer generated forms are very easy to design and modify. If you are not computer minded and would like a particular layout contact us .

I have seen some record cards that are more complicated, and may be accessed If you go to our links page .

 I start by assuming everything in the colony is OK, so I don't have to record such things as how much food or brood there is.

My record sheet is a simple A4 page that is then used for the colony for the entire year.

They are not kept under the hive roof. It is not much good having a note made that you need a super if the note is in the hive. I find it easiest to copy the simple layout into a hard backed A4 copy.

Your record should include

  • Date.
  • Is the queen laying? Y/N.
  • Is the queen clipped and marked? Y/N. If I clip and mark I can tell when I did it.
  • Are there any signs of queen cells? Y/N.

The above tells me all I need to know and is done in seconds. If the queen isn't laying when she should be, I need to find out why and deal with it if needed. If she isn't clipped and marked when she was the last time I saw her, then something has happened. If there are queen cells, I need to deal with them and what is done is put in the "comments" column.

  • Super needed. I want to know when I put my supers on so I can gauge how productive each colony is.
  • Calmness on the comb, Is the colony unusually aggressive etc

Both the above are assessments of characteristics and are used for selecting queens to breed from or to cull.

  • Comments. This is for anything else that is relevant. I don't put the obvious, like "all O.K.", "seen queen" or "brood in all stages" (sometimes you don't need to comment.)

Let's look at why we may need to keep records:-

  • So you know what to expect at the next inspection. 
    • Perhaps there were queen cells at the last inspection. You need to be aware of them and if your actions were effective.
  • When to make the next inspection. 
    • There is little point inspecting a colony in 7 days if you know 14 will do, or perhaps you need to cut out queen cells or put on a super in 5 days time.
  • What equipment is likely to be needed? 
    • It is not a good idea to leave a colony to go back to the shed for a queen excluder you knew you needed at the last inspection. Even worse if you have to clean it!
  • Queen details. 
    • It is handy to know if the queen was clipped and/or marked at the last inspection, or if a young queen is laying yet.
  • Colony characteristics. 
    • In my opinion this is an important part of colony management that gets forgotten by most beekeepers. If you are keen on improving your bees, you need to know a little of their characteristics.
  • In case of illness. 
    • We can all have the problem that will keep us away from our bees for a lengthy spell. If another beekeeper looks after your bees it would be very helpful for them to know what the situation is.
  • Bad memory. 
    • We all think we will remember everything but a week is a long time and as stated above you do not want to have to leave the colony half way through an inspection.