Hive Inspection – 20170919

Overview

The bees in all three hives were much calmer today. No sign of any significant infestations. We had something like 10 dying bees on the bottom screen of Hive 3. One of them died in Megan’s hand after she picked it up to examine. They showed all the earmarks of having been poisoned – quivering, dying with probosci extended, frantic death throes, unable to fly. All hives seem to be thriving in terms of stores and population. One dead pest larva found in oil trap 1-1 – about 1/2 inch long. Didn’t examine closely enough to determine if SHB or wax moth.

Completed Varroa mite mitigation actions last week, and cleaned out oil pan traps.

Hive 1

This is our strongest hive by far. They are putting up plenty of honey and pollen. This hive requeened itself (after assumed but unobserved swarm) in June. No problems with this hive after the initial infestation of SHB that came in with them.

Observations

  • About 10 frames of honey.
  • Lots of pollen – mostly as bee bread, mostly yellow and light orange.
  • No burr comb to speak of.
  • No drone cells.
  • One queen cup left in place.
  • Eggs seen.
  • Uncapped and capped brood of various ages. Good solid pattern.
  • Queen not seen.
  • No phoretic mites seen.
  • No DWV seen.
  • No SHB adults seen.
  • One dead larva about 1/2 inch long in oil pan 1-1 not sure if it is SHB or wax moth. Left it in the pan.
  • No sign of wax moth damage .
  • Some backfilling of the outside frames of the brood area as expected for autumn drawdown.

Actions

  • None.

Hive 2

This hive is strong, but has had issues. They requeened themselves (after presumed but unobserved swarm) in June. The new virgin queen was seen, but the new queen did not mate successfully (disappeared). The hive subsequently developed laying worker syndrome, but was requeened successfully with a mated queen from Allen Johnson. Since the laying worker period, the hive has shown a very strong propensity to build drone cells. In late July, we began seeing some DWV in the hive, and examination of the cutout drone brood showed a strong infestation of Varroa Destructor Mites.

We enforced a brood break in this hive by capturing the queen into a homemade queen cage frame on August 14, 2017. On August 22, 2017, we gave them (and all of our hives) a powdered sugar sprinkle against the mites. A second sugar shake was done on August 30, 2017. The original plan was to requeen this colony at the end of a 24-day enforced brood break using an egg frame from one of the other hives. But the time of year isn’t right for that. We have also seen a lot of dragonflies around the property, one of which was actively hunting honeybees while we watched it. The last thing we want is for our new queen to not return from one of her mating flights this late in the year. After all, this hive is the one that had laying workers earlier in the summer. The Varroa infestation in the hive seems be under control (no more DWV and no phoretic mites seen), we decided to just release the existing laying queen from her cage.

Observations

  • About 10 frames of honey. Two frames at end away from entrance are just being drawn (very slowly).
  • Queen not seen.
  • Hive still has a strong population of foraging workers. Most will be nearing the end of their foraging lifespan in the next two weeks.
  • Saw plenty of pollen coming in and on frames.
  • Had a few empty drone cells which we removed.
  • Saw several (about 5 or 6) queen cups and removed them.
  • Eggs, uncapped larvae of various ages, and capped worker brood seen with a good solid pattern.
  • No adult drones seen.
  • No phoretic mites seen.
  • No DWV seen.
  • No SHB adults or larvae seen.
  • No sign of wax moth damage or larvae.
  • Considerable backfilling of outer brood frames seen, as expected during autumn drawdown.

Actions

  • Added two empty frames with plastic foundation into the brood nest area.
  • Removed burr comb, and queen cups.

Hive 3

This hive was established in June 2017 from a nuc given to us by a friend. The nuc was raised from her own stock using eggs from one of her own hives. The stock has a strongly Russian genetic background, but is not purebred. This is our smallest colony, due to having started late, and the Russian characteristic of building slowly. They have also been slow to put up stores, and we have supplemented them with honey frames from the other hives. We may need to continue that in order to help them overwinter.

Observations

  • Good stores of honey (about five frames or so). Looks like they may be able to overwinter without supplement.
  • Lots of pollen – mostly yellow and light orange.
  • No burr comb to speak of.
  • No drone cells.
  • One queen cup (left in place).
  • Eggs seen.
  • Uncapped and capped brood of various ages seen. Good solid pattern.
  • Couldn’t find queen, but she must be present (eggs).
  • No phoretic mites seen.
  • No DWV seen.
  • No SHB adults or larvae seen.
  • No sign of wax moth damage or larvae.
  • Had about 50 dead bees on the screen bottom in the open area outside the follower board. Also saw about 10 bees in that area acting frantic and unable to fly. Looks like they may have been poisoned.

Actions

  • Removed dead bees from empty zone.

Plan of Action

  • Continue to monitor populations, stores, and pan traps in all three hives.
  • Monitor Hive 3 for further signs of poisoning.
  • Requeen Hive 2 in early spring.

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