Basic principles of beehive inspections
Beekeepers need to understand two basic principles when carrying out beehive inspections for AFB. The first is that frames cannot be properly searched for disease symptoms unless the bees are shaken off the combs. The second is that the more brood frames that are inspected, the greater are the chances of correctly identifying an AFB hive.
Work in an orderly fashion
To carry out a visual inspection easily and efficiently, it is important to work the hive in an orderly fashion.
The inspection procedure should begin by removing all supers above the bottom box (as the lowest box containing brood), and stacking them to one side on the up-turned lid. This divides up the bee population in the hive, and eliminates the potential for overcrowding of bees. (If the hive is worked directly from the top box, a high proportion of house bees will be driven down during the inspection process, eventually crowding the bottom box and making it far more difficult to work and increasing the chance of killing or damaging the queen.)
Once the bottom brood super is exposed, one or two outside frames should be carefully removed from this super and propped on their side against the box and near the hive entrance. This creates a working space in the box that can be used when shaking bees off the brood frames. It also allows the frames to be separated before being removed, reducing the possibility that the queen will be crushed.
Putting the frames near the hive entrance may ensure the queen bee can return to her colony if she falls off the comb.