Colony 01

No crawling bees outside Hive A

Submitted by will on Mon, 05/07/2018 - 07:19

For at least the last 2 years there have been flightless bees crawling around outside Hive A. These bees were clearly suffering from Deformed Wing Virus or another disabling virus. This year there are none.

The cause was explained to me by a researcher at University of Salford. All winter the Varroa mites feed from worker bees. They accumulate DWV virus particles. In spring, when brood production increases they rush in to infest the new brood and transfer more virus to them. These bees show visible signs of DWV -- deformed wings or an inability to fly.

Activity in all 7 hives

Submitted by will on Sun, 11/26/2017 - 21:11

The colonies in all 7 hives are quiet this week. The weather is between freezing and 10C.

I checked the removable screens below the brood boxes. There appears to be activity in all the hives. I cleared away evidence of brood hatching from some of the hives but I don't think that I'll see much more hatching for a while.

Hive A appeared to be very quiet but the base board is frequented by ants and slugs. It's possible that they have been clearing away wax and sugar which drops from the hive. They don't remove the bodies of Varroa as far as I can see.

7 Hives at the end of the season

Submitted by will on Sun, 10/15/2017 - 20:28

I visited my out-apiary today and examined the removable hive floors for evidence of recent activity.

Three hives (D, F and G) show evidence of recent brood emergence. There were also hundreds of dead mites. Hive D had been especially prolific. There was also crystallised sugar which suggests that old honey is being eaten or cells are being cleaned out.

The colour of honey

Submitted by will on Sun, 06/25/2017 - 08:22

I recently took some honey from Hive A. Most came out as comb but there were also a couple of jars.

Yesterday I returned to Hive A. Some time ago I had put some broken comb pieces onto the crown board. In the usual way the bees had built a large slab of comb around it it and started to fill it. I cleaned up the crown board and then hung the crunched comb in mesh bag overnight.

Small bees, or, the vicissitudes of photography

Submitted by will on Sun, 06/25/2017 - 06:02

The bees which I've just collected as a swarm for hive H appear small compared to those from established hives. I've found it difficult to provide a photograph to show this. It was obvious when I caught the swarm: these were tiny bees. I've been wrong before so I decided to compare.

Deformed Wing Virus appears to be seasonal in Hive A

Submitted by will on Wed, 05/31/2017 - 06:40

For at least the last 2 years I have observed a definite pattern in Hive A. In spring there are lots of crawling bees outside the hive. Some are clearly affected by Deformed Wing Virus (DWV); others maybe by another paralysis virus or by exhaustion.

They crawl around near the hive. If you launch them into the air they fall back to earth. They never make it back to the hive and have probably been ejected by the other bees. The Sparrows eat some of them. The others presumably die out of site.

More wonky comb

Submitted by will on Wed, 05/31/2017 - 06:03

Hive A has delivered another super of honey. Unfortunately it is crooked and cross-combed.

The bees built the comb relatively quickly. I'm not certain why it isn't straight. Strong nectar flows induce the bees to build on several frames at once and I think this encourages straight comb.

There are a couple of options for extracting the honey. It can be cut out into plastic boxes or pressed using an apple press. Neither option returns reusable comb which is disappointing.

Sparrows

Submitted by will on Tue, 05/02/2017 - 14:09

For the second year running the Sparrows are foraging.

There were quite a few bees crawling near my home hives in a state of moribund helplessness. There was no chance that they could get to the hive entrance and even if they did I doubt whether the guards would have let them back in. Some may have been exhausted, but most either had deformed wings or paralysis. No way back.

Their distress has attracted a few sparrows who feed on them. They perch on nearby fences; they perform a fluttering swoop to grab a bee on the ground; they fly off quickly.

Hive A dropping one Varroa mite per hour

Submitted by will on Sun, 04/23/2017 - 21:40

I've been looking at the removable floor of Hive A. There is a steady fall of Varroa mites there. I checked three times and the average is about one mite falling per hour. Some were still alive; a few were clearly immature.

This rate of mite drop puts the colony at severe risk of colony collapse, according to the BeeBase document "Managing Varroa".