The size of the brood nest of your hive will vary throughout the year and depend on the location. However, a strong colony always maintains a strong brood pattern.
Large swaths of similar age brood are the indication of a strong brood pattern. You can easily observe it when this is capped. There is a patch where the cells next to one another are capped to form a solid pattern.
When the larvae are not healthy, these will be removed by the worker bees that will create holes in the pattern. It results to what is often referred to as a shotgun pattern and is a sign of a struggling colony.
During the process of bees monitoring, make sure that you check the larvae. These must be of pearly white color, curled to form a C shape. Larvae that look melted, discolored, malformed, or twisted are indications of parasites or brood disease.
Young larvae will float in a royal jelly pool. The colony is healthier if the pool of royal jelly is more generous. Larvae that look dry suffer from malnutrition and indicate colony stress. If the hive starves, the larvae may even be cannibalized just to keep the population of the adult bees alive.
While it is a good sign to have abundant honey, this is not always a proof that the colony is strong. Bees produce honey during summer and strong and store this for months. The mere fact that there are lots of honey in your colony doesn’t mean that they are strong and healthy at the moment. There are weak hives with large amounts of honey during fall. Such colonies used to be strong at a certain point but have now become weak. Never judge the strength of your hive based only on its honey stores.
Pollen is a important part of the diet of honey bees and there is a strong relationship between abundant pollen stores and healthy and strong hives.
During bees monitoring (https://www.beescales.io/en), see to it that you consider the amount of pollen they have. Pollen is often stored near the hive’s entrance. When you have a Langstroth hive, it means that you might want to inspect the lowermost box.