Some beekeepers keep track of the health of a hive or what needs to be done on the next visit to the apiary by marking on the hive or setting a brick in a particular orientation on the hive. I must admit I do sometimes use a brick as a reminder when going back to a bee yard. It is not the best or most reliable method of record keeping. It is however cheap and easy, and Jim Fischer and other members of BeeSource.com contributed the following guide to record keeping using bricks (I can’t claim any credit here, but thought it far too useful not to share):
The Signal Brick System Explained
- If the brick is atop the hive, the cover has not blown off just yet.
- If the brick is on the ground, a bear has visited your apiary
- If the brick is standing upright, the bees are Egyptian, or have seen "2001 – A Space Odyssey"
- If the brick is lying on its side, see above, but a bird has knocked it over
- If the brick is wet, don’t work the bees right now.
- If the brick is hot, check to see if you can pull some supers.
- If the brick is ice-covered, knock on the hive with the brick to see if you still have bees. As a general rule, no noise means no bees.
- If the brick is covered with stingers, you likely have had AHB take over your hive. Dress and acting accordingly.
- If the brick has moss on it, you have not checked that hive often enough.
- If you talk to the brick.. and it talks back to you.. you’re visiting the hive too much!!!
- If you suddenly have more bricks than hives, its time to make splits.