No, the situation has not improved since I have last posted an update.
Yesterday’s mini inspection showed the same symptoms:
- Four bees seen with deformed wings;
- the varroa count on the board was 210 (over two days!);
- one wasp spotted (pathetically) trying to enter the hive and;
- the weight of the hive seemed O-K.
When I lifted the varroa board for an inspection, I saw the usual, comb bits, some fallen pollen, the mites… plus a little, young bee. The sweet, poor little bee was frozen stiff (in the 9°C) and couldn’t fly back into the hive. Other than that, it was a healthy bee, stuck in the wrong place, so I offered a friendly and warm finger for her to climb on, a helping hand I suppose. I quickly placed my finger right by the hive entrance, in hope that her strength will be enough to encourage her to join her sisters. And she did! Similarly to a very cold human, she gathered up her strength and willed her body to move into the hive v e r y s l o w l y . . .
Success ! I had saved one of my bees from the cold!
But wait, as I was stumbling to look at the hive from underneath, through the open mesh floor, there was yet another bee. This one was clinging onto the mesh, trying to fit through the holes to join the cluster that had formed, but of course, the task was impossible – the holes are designed to be too small for bees to go through. And so here she was, also stiffening up on the underside of her home.
As this would have been a somewhat blind operation, I put on my glove and started feeling my way to the bee, trying to get her onto my hand. This time, the bee practically fell, into my leather palm, turned up right and stayed still – also cold. To get this little female into the entrance, I had to practically shove her by the bum into the opening, always gently of course. I believe this bee was close to giving up as even after landing on her doorstep, she could not move. Soon after I placed her there, others came to see to her, gently stroking her with their antenna, warming her up and helping her recover from the shock, before helping her back into the main cluster.
My bees consistently remind me of virtues I should always have in my own life. Observing the little things and taking the time to absorb my surroundings (if I didn’t take the time to look under the hive, I would have not seen the helpless bee). Having patience and being gentle with the weak, especially if you are a giant compared to them. Finally, yesterday, my bees reminded me of how important my family is and how important it is to care for them when they reach out to you.