Beekeeping is a seasonal hobby with most of the hands on work happening from spring through to autumn. Once the weather warms up and the bees get more active you will need to be able to inspect your hives about once a week. You’ll be looking to spot any signs of disease, check that the queen is doing her job and potentially take steps to prevent your bees swarming.
How long it takes to inspect a single hive will vary. It is likely to take around 10-20 minutes to do a full inspection. When you first start it may take you longer as you familiarise yourself with the bees and get used to handling them and finding your queen. More experienced beekeepers can do an inspection pretty quickly. You also need to allow time for any action you need to take following and inspection such as treating for varroa, dealing with possible swarming. Many beekeepers find that it’s not the actual time it takes to inspect their hives that is difficult but the commitment to do so on a weekly basis.
Autumn is the time when a bit of work can pay dividends for the next year. Treatment for varroa is done now and, if necessary, the bees need to be fed to ensure they have enough stores to see them through the winter.
Once the weather gets colder you won’t be opening the hives up. You will need to occasionally check that the bees have enough supplies to keep going until it’s warm enough for them to forage again. You’ll also want to check periodically that hives are secure and not damaged by animals or adverse weather. None of this is particularly time consuming. Winter is a good time to catch up on your reading, clean empty hives and other equipment and plan your next season