Hive Inspection, July 12, 2014

Shiloh and I went out to the bees yesterday. We also had Joey, a county inspector doing a study on varroa and brood diseases. It was a fun visit.

Top Bar

I wasn’t going to go in to the top bar since I was just there a few days ago, but I figured why not. Joey volunteered to take the bodies on the bottom of the hive and test them for nosema. He also took a sample for a research study being done at BYU on phages and how they can be used to attack some of these diseases. He’ll let me know how that goes.

The hive itself actually looks a lot better. There’s more brood than I was thinking, and if we can get them building out a nest, I think they’ll have a chance. It all depends on the nectar flow this summer and especially into the fall.

Nuc

Still dead. In fact, we dumped this hive to give us frames to complete a deep box for supering. Thus ends the nuc.

Hive 1

Strong. Ridiculously strong. And really calm as well. We didn’t see the queen, but we found lots of eggs and good brood patterns. We put on a queen excluder to try and drive her down. I think that bottom deep still isn’t that full. We would have gone into it, but I was already starting to feel sick from dehydration (I haven’t done a great job drinking water during that housing project), so we wrapped up before we went far.

Hive 2

Comparable to Hive 1 at this point, maybe a bit stronger. We added a medium super to the top of this one because the hive is full top to bottom. Looking great.

Hive 3

This is my weird hive… We found the queen almost immediately, but there are still heavy signs of that egg-laying worker. I have to assume she’s close to the end of her life, but maybe not? Does an egg-laying worker live multiple years like a queen? No clue.

We also supered this hive, but we did it a bit different. I split the hive vertically with a deep on bottom, the new empty deep in the middle, and the medium on top. There’s a strong brood nest in both halves. I’m intrigued to see what they will do and if it will help or hurt with the egg-laying worker. My guess is it’ll have no impact.

As for the testing, Joey found a grand total of…

ZERO mites! Not one. Across all of the hives.

I haven’t ever really had anything more than anecdotal evidence about whether my lack of medicating and sugar feeding has had any positive effect on the hives, but now I’ve got that to go with. He said that he’s never seen a series of hives as healthy or strong as these are when it comes to mites, and he had tons of questions about what we are doing, how, and why. It was a great conversation.

While I still think that no meds/no sugar is the way to go, I think it’s important that people do what feels right to them. I told him about some resources where I had read a lot of what I’ve learned (Google Michael Bush), and left it at that. If he reads it, likes it, and switches over, good for him. If not, good for him.

Next time we go in, I’ve got to do a deep dive in all three hives. I haven’t been in the bottom boxes once this year. This has been by far the most hands-off beekeeping year for me, and I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s made it easy and fast.

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2 Responses to Hive Inspection, July 12, 2014

  1. Emily Heath says:

    Great news about the mites!

    There are usually multiple egg laying workers rather than just one. A healthy queen’s pheromones, combined with open worker brood, will usually suppress the worker’s ovaries. If the queen is getting old and not laying much worker brood that could explain the problem. Rusty at Honey Bee Suite did a good post about this recently – http://www.honeybeesuite.com/how-to-fix-a-laying-worker-hive/

    • daveloveless says:

      Thanks! I will have to go read that. The queen is only a few months old and was born during the problem. I have dumped all the workers out as well, but she/they got back in somehow. Hopefully some answers in that post.

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