Bees in nature select their homes based on a few criteria, one of which is the size of the cavity they will occupy and its entrance size. When beekeepers tend to bees, the entrance of the manufactured beehive is often quite large, which is suitable when the colony has a fantastically large population; circa 60,000 bees. However, when a colony is much smaller, like mine is (a wild guess of about 25,000 bees), a wide opening is far from ideal because it makes it more difficult to defend against wasps, other bees, cold and water (damp). For that reason, I have had an entrance reducer right from the start.
During my last inspection, I decided to replace the entrance reducer for one with an even smaller opening, in preparation for winter. The bees were extremely confused when I removed the entrance reducer as they found themselves suddenly exposed, like removing someone’s front door while they were watching tv in their pyjamas. But in the end they got used to the smaller entrance quickly and their home got a revamp.
This was also a good opportunity for me to slide in the BeeGym, a grooming-encouraging device (claimed to be, not proven with enough evidence yet) that helps bees control the varroa mite population through dislodging them while grooming (scratching) their abdomen. The decision to try this device out came from my desire to treat the colony’s varroa infestation with a chemical-free option which might allow the bees to also develop their own defense mechanism against the mites.
Inspection Results: As this was a mini inspection, the updates are minimal. The overall temper and activity of the hive looks healthy with many foragers seen to arrive laden with large pollen sacs. The varroa mite count, as expected has not dropped but luckily not increased significantly either; it was at 2 mites per box. Hopefully next week will show us some changes in the mite count.