Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Halfway through the treatment

The "Apiguard" has been in the hive for two weeks now (half way through), so I installed another foil tray this afternoon.  The weather has been good for the past couple of weeks and it is still pretty warm during the day - mid to high 20's Celcius (80's F). This should be enough for the gel to evaporate and the Thymol to do its stuff in the hive! Fortunately the next 10 days also look pretty warm-ish, and the temperatures are forecast to be in the high 'teens Celsius (~60F). So I hope the mite treatment will be able to see it's full course at suitable temperatures and be fully effective.

The Daughter hive still looks strong, and as the temperatures have dropped the bees are spending less time on the outside of the hive.  Just before I added the first dose of "Apiguard", two weeks ago, I was able to do a quick check on the super that I placed at the bottom of the hive.  This was much lighter than it had previously been and so it now appears to be emptying! I hope this means the bees have moved the honey up into the deeps. Once the treatment is finished I'll check the super and remove it if I can.

I also checked the Parent hive. This is doing OK as well, and I added about 1/2 litre of 2:1 sugar syrup.  The bees are taking a little syrup and the stores in the hive are much improved.  However, they are not still building out the honeycomb that they cleared out after the beetle problem earlier in the season.  Perhaps the reason is that the comb is "contaminated"? I think I'll exchange it with another built out frame to see if this helps encourage them them to store something!  Maybe if this comb was being built out I'd be thinking about adding a new hive body in the hope the bees expand the nest over the next month or so i.e. while the weather is still warm enough for them to raise brood before the winter.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

It must be hot in there!

Since I put the Apiguard in the Daughter hive the bees have been 'plastered' over the front of the hive.  I guess it must be hot inside.

Because I want the Apiguard to do its stuff, I closed off the screened bottom board and reduced the entrance to its smallest size.  Clearly it's getting stuffier than an illegal rave in a basement and the girls are just hanging around outside to keep cool. Some are frantically fanning to cool it off inside.  I hope this is no cause for concern! I suppose they might not be enjoying the fumes the Apiguard gives off.  Some research is needed.

Oh and a quick word of thanks to my old mate Dean - He gets the "pollinator-of-the-week" award for putting lavender in his allotment to attact bees - very thoughful!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A High Count?

I did a varroa mite count; 61 mites in 48 hours.  I'm not sure if this is high or not, but I suspect it is borderline with regard to treatment.  So, what do I do?  I reckon treatment is on the cards, but I'll do a bit of research and asking around tomorrow.
STOP PRESS: I decided to treat with Apiguard.  Although the count is borderline, there is still likely to be 4 weeks of reasonably warm weather, so it seems that adding treatment is a good idea. I therefore put on the small entrance reducer, closed up the holes in the hive bodies and put the Apiguard tray on top of the brood frames under an upturned top feeder.  I closed off the feeder entrance with tape.  I'll be in the hive again in a couple of weeks to repeat the treatment.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Further Fall Management - Daughter Hive

I don't want to give the Parent Hive any brood from the Daughter Hive for fear of weakening the Daughter Hive.  I know it sounds a bit callous, but I'd prefer go into winter with one really good hive and one weak one, rather than two good-ish ones!

So, how to make the Daughter Hive as strong as possible? Well I want to get the honey that is in the supers into the hive bodies. I've tried putting an inner cover between the hive bodies and the supers and that didn't work, so I'll try something different.  This time I'll put the super with the most honey on a screened bottom board and put the hive bodies on top of this.  The other super I will remove and store for the winter. It may be interesting to see what happens for a couple of weeks.

Before I do this I think I may do another sticky board count!

STOP PRESS:  Some work has been done on the supers as there definitely seemed to be less honey in them today (Sunday 12th) than the last time I checked.  Nevertheless, I made the adjustments as above. Perhaps I tried to get the bees to move the honey too early? We'll have to see how quickly they deal with the remaining honey.  I guess out of the other super, one frame had a reasonable amount of honey in it.  I removed and froze all the frames from this super.

Further Fall Management - Parent Hive

It was a bee club meeting yesterday so I had the chance to ask a few questions and get some opinions on what I should do with the Parent Hive.

I did a 48 hour "sticky board" count for Varroa mites before the meeting and I found only 3 mites.  So this is very good news and means I won't need to treat this hive. The added bonus is that if I did have to treat the hive, then the queen would not lay well for a month, plus I could not feed the bees either! So without applying the mite treatment the queen has a chance to lay more strongly into the later Autumn and the bees can feed, feed, feed! The downside of the sticky board inspection was that I saw quite a lot of what most people thought were Wax Moth larvae faeces, as well as some live Small Hive Beetle larvae. But we think there were not enough to be a real concern.

There hasn't been much going on in the top hive body i.e. little in the way of stores have been put away and there are few bees 'living on the comb'.  The lack of bee numbers might explain why wax moths might be present. Normally if there are enough bees around they will chase the moths out and destroy the larvae. So, after a lot of discussion I decided that I would remove the top hive body and consolidate the bees in a single hive body. This should increase the bee numbers on the combs and will help the bees fend off any intruders and pests.  I will also install a screened bottom board to help ventilate the hive and will try to intensively feed them over the next month or so!

With luck, in a couple of weeks, they will have filled out the bottom hive body and I can then consider putting back the top hive body and carry on feeding.  Maybe there will be enough honey stored away by the middle/end of October and the bees will have a really good chance of over-wintering!

Monday, September 6, 2010

If it's not Small Hive Beetles it's Varroa mites!

Things never seem to settle down!  Just when you think your weak hive is back on it's feet, something else crops us that needs attention.

Anyway, let's deal with the Daughter Hive first.  It's been about 3 weeks since I inserted an inner cover between the hive bodies and the supers, in the hope this would encourage the bees to move the honey in the supers down into the brood boxes.  Well nothing has happened. In fact, if anything, it seems there is more honey in the supers now!  So what to do, what with Autumn just around the corner?  I reckon I may have to extract the honey and hope the bees have managed to store enough pollen in the hives already.  I'll then start feeding with syrup - if they will take it, and possibly with some pollen patties if they seem weak.

But, the really good news is the queen is laying extremely strongly and there is tons of brood in the bottom hive box.  Nothing is really happening in the upper hive box i.e. no stores to speak of and no brood. I am wondering if I should move the supers to just above the brood box and remove the 'empty' hive body.  This seems a good question to ask at the next meeting. So what if the bees lay eggs in the supers over winter?

Now to the Parent hive.  This hive was first weakened by the Small Hive Beetles, and it lost a queen, but recovered after a new queen was introduced.  Now I think (but do not know) that there may be a Varroa mite problem - groan!  A few weeks ago I tested for mites and the 48 hour count was low - just one mite, yes one! But this is probably a result of there being no brood in the hive for a while.  The new Queen is laying, just not very prolifically.  I want her to start laying vigorously now, so that bee numbers increase before the winter.  When I inspected the hive on Saturday, I noticed some uncapped brood with quite mature pupae (purple eyes) visible - I have added a photo below.

These uncapped pupae may be a sign of the bee's hygienic behavoir.  The bees having detected mites are in a cell have uncapped it and will remove the pupa in order to get rid of the immature mite larvae.  The photos I think may also show a mite on the back of a bee, but I'm not sure!

So, now I'm doing a mite count to see if the number is high, or has increased.  If it has I'll treat with "Apiguard".