Oxford Bees

Pests and Diseases

The first Wasp

Submitted by will on Sat, 01/06/2019 - 15:00

I saw the first worker wasp of the season. She was hovering near Colony 1.

Earlier this season we saw a lot of Queen wasps. This suggests that it may be a waspy year. There have also been lots of aphids for the wasps to feed on. Wasps require mostly protein early in the seasons which they use to feed their brood. They switch increasingly to needing sugar during the season, which is why they try to rob honey bee colonies.

Crawling bees and signs of Deformed Wing Virus prevalent across hives

Submitted by will on Sun, 26/05/2019 - 07:00

Colony 1 has been continuously occupied for over 6 years. Every spring, except 2018, there have been bees crawling around outside the hive -- stricken with Deformed Wing Virus or some other paralysing virus. These bees became food for Sparrows.

This year seems worse than previous years. There appear to be more bees crawling and for longer. This might not be worse than usual but it feels it. In April it was mostly Drones which were crawling around. Now it is more likely to be workers.

Very high Varroa count for city centre hives

Submitted by will on Fri, 19/04/2019 - 06:34

I did a 24 hour Varroa drop count yesterday. This involves clearing the removable hive floor and counting the Varroa mites which drop out of the hive over a 24 hour period.

I counted

  • 15 Varroa on the floor of Colony 12;
  • 16 Varroa on the floor of Colony 4;
  • 30 Varroa on the floor of Colony 8.

These are very high numbers of mites for this time of year.

Varroa fall is worryingly high for Spring

Submitted by will on Sat, 13/04/2019 - 19:38

I have seen a worrying number of Varroa bodies on the floors of my hives. This is particularly concerning at the start of the season because it suggests much higher numbers of the mites later in the season. If I was a conventional bee keeper I would treat the hives now. I'm not going to. We'll see what happens.

Drones emerging from Colony 1

Submitted by will on Sat, 30/03/2019 - 14:30

Today I've seen several drones around Colony 1. This shouldn't be a surprise. April is swarming season so colonies which are preparing to swarm will be rearing Queens.

The drones have fully formed wings but appear to be unable to fly. I've found a few just walking around. I threw them into the air but they didn't fly. They might be suffering from a paralysing virus.

Early drones may be more likely to be affected by Varroa infestation because there are fewer of drone larvae early in the season, and the Varroa viral load can be more concentrated.

Wasps overwhelming Colony 11

Submitted by will on Thu, 30/08/2018 - 12:03

Two weeks have passed since I declared that there was 'no drama'. Today Colony 11 is under severe pressure from wasp attack. Today there were maybe 3 or 4 wasps using the entrance for every bee. Inside there were far fewer bees than I would have expected and there was less honey. On the floor of the hive were a great many severed bee legs.

Wax Moth!

Submitted by will on Wed, 22/08/2018 - 21:25

Today I earned the exclamation mark! I found the largest infestation of Wax Moth that I've ever seen.

It was my own fault, of course. I had left a stack of brood comb on my workbench and forgotten about it. I found it today a day or two after the larvae had woven their cocoons but before pupation had properly begun. There was a lump of cocoons half as big as my fist.

Wasps everywhere but none appear to be getting inside

Submitted by will on Sun, 05/08/2018 - 06:36

My hives are surrounded by at least half a dozen wasps which want to rob them. They zig-zag in front of the entrance; they crawl in under the Varroa screen; they wait at the edges and drink from the water tray. They want the honey but they can't get in.

All of the hives in central Oxford have small doors and strong guards. Three of the four have at least 20 bees visible on the outside of the hive entrance. One hive had fewer visible but appeared to be just as effective at guarding.

Varroa drop not quite zero

Submitted by will on Wed, 13/06/2018 - 07:18

Colony 13 is dropping Varroa. They are also cleaning out old comb so there is a lot of debris on the hive floor. I found 2 or maybe 3 Varroa bodies.

This colony is new to my apiary, having been established elsewhere. I haven't really included it in my Varroa Zero post because it's new. Hives D and G are included. There were no Varroa on the floor of either this morning. There doesn't appear to much activity in Hive D at all. I shall have to check them.