Many beekeepers use Ted Hooper’s well-known five questions as an aid when inspecting their colonies. As a reminder, these are:
- Has the colony enough room?
- Is the queen present and laying well?
- Is the colony building up in size at an appropriate rate and are queen cells present?
- Are there signs of disease or abnormality?
- Has the colony enough stores until the next visit?
In my hive records, I used to enter my answers to these questions in columns headed 1, 2, 3, etc. Unfortunately, I’ve a poor memory for numbers and could never remember what each number represented. At the back of my hive-record book, I had to write down the meaning of each number and consult this at every inspection. Sick of this, I decided to devise a mnemonic for remembering the five questions. I came up with the following:
R = Room
E = Eggs
D = Development of (a) colony, (b) queen cells
D = Disease
S = Stores
“REDDS” reminds me of the old phrase “Reds under the beds” that was common during the McCarthy-era witch-hunts in the U.S. I now label the columns in my notebook R, E, D, D, S and have no problem remembering what they stand for.
Now can anyone come up with a mnemonic to remember the characteristics recommended by GBBG for queen evaluation, i.e. docility, steadiness, brood pattern, pollen storage and comb building?