Redds under the bed – Eoghan Mac Giolla Coda (spring 2008)

Many beekeepers use Ted Hooper’s well-known five questions as an aid when inspecting their colonies.  As a reminder, these are:

  1. Has the colony enough room?
  2. Is the queen present and laying well?
  3. Is the colony building up in size at an appropriate rate and  are queen cells present?
  4. Are there signs of disease or abnormality?
  5. 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?

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