Arriving at the hive, I was originally worried that I might find a colony starved of all it’s honey, especially if more robbing went on during the week that passed.
But, oh no! Not these ladies!
I cannot express my pride in my (sweet) small colony being able to ward off the bullies time and time again. Bring on the wasps, bring on the robbers, we will take them on! Beekeeper not required.
On the downside, I inspected the varroa board, as I did last time, and I did unfortunately find varroa mites that have dropped. The varroa board showed an average of 2 mites per square (this is the measure I decided to go for, it’s not a standard). It is incredible how the mites are visible even to the naked eye. And you can even distinguish whether the dropped mite is a mama mite, a daughter or son. All by naked eye! I will try to get a better photograph of the mite next time.
These mites have come from the Far East and in themselves, are fairly harmless, merely parasites. However, they are primary vessels for viruses – notably the Deformed Wing Virus (DWV). Bees that are infected develop wings that are useless in providing flight and so the bees cannot forage. A colony without foraging bees will very quickly starve and disappear.
You will be happy to hear that I have decided not to follow the common route of treatment for varroa, which includes the use of chemicals. I will be trialing out something called a BeeGym, which (in theory) encourages bees to groom themselves and, in the process, knock the mites off them before they get the chance to reproduce. More on the BeeGym next time.
Inspection Results: Not only did the wasps disappear, the thieving bees have given up as well. This is a sign of a strong colony. Better yet, their honey stores have increase since the last inspection (two weeks ago). Although there are 4 brood frames, only 3 of them seemed to be in use, the other one was empty. Could it be that they are actively reducing, or was I just not able to spot the eggs? The queen i s extremely difficult to spot but the healthy brood pattern persists with all stages of brood seen. Despite all the difficulties, these single ladies are strong and independent!