Opening the Hive
Once your colony is established there will be times when you’ll have to examine the hive.
For example, you'll have to check for disease;
you’ll have to see that brood rearing is going along all right;
you'll have to check the bees' food supply and find out whether the queen is a good one;
you may have to add more room, remove honey-filled supers, or get the colony ready for winter.
You'll find that it's best to open a hive on a warm day, preferably between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Bees are less likely to sting then. Don't open a hive after a chilly rain or if the wind is strong. Or before a storm, even if warm and sunny, the bees know it is coming. You'll need your bee smoker and hive tool. Wear your veil and a bee suit or other suitable clothing. Most beginners wear gloves, although they usually discard them later as being too clumsy. Light your smoker and make sure it stays lit. Now you're ready to open the hive. Approach the hive from the side or from behind, staying out of the bees' line of flight. It's best to have the sun at your back. Gently blow two or three puffs of smoke into the hive entrance (don’t blow torch the bees), the smoke will calm the guards
A good guide is this: a lot of bees' heads are sticking up between the frames, and they look like they're ready to fly off, a little more smoke is needed. If they act nervous and line up between the tops of the frames, use your smoker. Lift the cover again and use a little more smoke. You may find that the frames are glued together with propolis. If they are, insert your hive tool between the frame and the hive wall nearest you and then gently pry the frames toward the center. Next insert your hive tool between the first frame and the one next to it and pry the first frame loose. Always take the first or second frame out first as it is less likely to contain the queen or brood. Lift out the frame by taking hold of the ends of the top bar. Set the frame against the front corner of the hive so the queen can find her way into the hive if she is on these frames.
When putting the hive back in order, return all the frames but the first one. Crowd the frames against the far side, then put in your first frame, then space the others out. Before closing the hive, place the end bars of the outside frames about one quarter inch from the side of the hive.
Some other operation hints: Avoid jerky, nervous movements. Don't jolt or jar the hive. Keep your smoker handy and use it occasionally to keep bees subdued. Don't drop a frame into a hive. Replace all frames in original order, unless during a honey flow where you can move incomplete frames to the center so the bees work them. Of course you don't have to tear down the whole hive to see what your bees are doing. You can insert your hive tool, lift one end of the super, and tilt it at an angle to check from below.