1 August 2005, Happy Bees and A Wordy Journal Entry
Conducted an inspection this morning at about 10 am. The weather was warm and sunny, but not too warm and sunny.
My goals during this inspection were twofold: to check the condition of the bees, of course, and to replace the bottom boards on both hives with screened bottom boards. I will explain screened bottom boards later on.
I was very happy with the state of Hive A, which has the new queen. There was lots of stored honey and lots of capped brood. In fact, while inspecting one frame of capped brood, we witnessed a bee crawling out of her cell. She was fuzzier than the other adult bees, a lighter color, and had a wet-dog sort of look to her. It takes a bee a few hours out of the cell to dry off, and about a day to finish developing completely into an adult bee. Looking around the frame, I noticed several other bees with the same appearance. So, the eggs on the frame were hatched about the same time, and now many of the bees on the frame were being "born" at the same time. This was a wonder to witness, and a joy to behold.
I was a bit worried about this hive, but now, after seeing so many new bees emerging from their cells, I think that this hive should be on their way to making it through the winter. I hope that the coming late summer/fall nectar flow should be enough for them to build up their stores for the winter.
I also uncapped a few drone cells to remove the drone pupae and inspect for vorroa mites. Vorroa destructor are the scurge of modern-day beekeeping, and are one of the many challenges faced by would-be beekeepers like myself. Vorroa mites prefer to lay their eggs in drone cells, since drones have the longest development time of the honey bee castes. The female mite crawls into the cells before they are capped and lays her eggs on the pupa after the cell is capped over. The young mites attach themselves to the pupa and suck its blood, like leeches. I found no mites in this very random search.
A better way to check for mites, and estimate the mite load for a colony (in mites per bee), is to use a screened bottom board. Unlike a traditional bottom board, which has a solid bottom, the screened bottom board has a big hole cut out of the bottom, covered by a mesh wire screen. Since mites occasionally are knocked off or fall off of the honey bees, they will fall through the mesh onto the ground and be unable to crawl back up. Or a removable drawer can be introduced into the bottom board, to allow the installation of a greased sheert of paper. Thus, when the mites fall through the screen, they will be trapped on the greased paper and die. Later, I can remove the drawer, count the mites, and estimate how many mites there are in the hive. If the count is high enough, I can choose a treatment to reduce the mite load.
Also, the screened bottom board helps manage the mite population in the hive without chemical treatments. I am not using any chemical treatments, preferring rather to take the integrated pest management route, using selected genetic strains of bees which are disease and parasite resistant, and non-chemical methods of pest management.
B Hive was also very healthy. The honey super on top is not quite ready to harvest. I hope that one more week should be enough for the bees to fill and cap the remaining cells.
This is a hasty journal entry. I am a bit tired, but I wanted to get this updated as soon as I could. I will probably correct some typos later, and add some pictures.