Mar 14 2013

still lots of food – MITES!

So about 1pm it was 61 degrees and very calm and the girls were out a’flyin. Yesterday, HB brought up a tote with the 6 frozen frames of honey from the honey bank and the 2 frozen drone mite trap frames. They’ve been in the house overnight to thaw out.

I wanted to have them ready and thawed just in case the girls were running short of food. And I was thinking of popping in the drone traps now to help start mite protection. However, the weather report shows that starting Sunday, we get back down to under 30 degrees at night for the next 10 days. That means I can’t really be inspecting the hives and if they start laying drones in the drone mite trap frames I HAVE to get them out of there in 2 weeks. Since it may still be too cold, I decided to wait on the mite traps.

Also, I won’t be removing the black hive wrap or insulation because I think it would be too much of a shock to them over the next 10 days trying to keep the hive as warm as they’ve been .

HB sat at the bee viewing station with the window open so that if I found out they needed frames of food, he could get them and hand them to me.

I suited up and brought the camera and the capping scratcher in case I had to put in the honey bank frames. I also brought 2 empty boxes to hold the frames I was temporarily removing to look at the hives.

Zipping into my bee suit the first time in spring is such a wonderful experience. You are suddenly enveloped in the smells of the bees – soft smells of honey and beeswax, the sweet of propolis, the tang of smoke and canvas. I immediately feel my heart rate drop, I breathe more slowly, take deep breaths and instantly relax. It’s because I know I’m going out to inspect the girls and that action has become such a relaxing and wondrous thing that the smells are imbedded in that memory. So just smelling the inside of the bee suit causes instant relaxation and a smile on my face.

Until you’ve done beekeeping, you just can’t imagine how obsessed you become with just getting out there to see the girls each and every time.

I took everything out to the bee deck. The purple hive has one more box on top than the orange hive because last fall they were too crowded and just needed spare space to fit in. So this top box had 8 bare frames. Then the food boxes started below that top box. Whereas on the orange hive, the top box was full of food, not empty.

I started the smoker with a little newspaper and some burlap. I removed the heavy weights on top of both hives and ths slab of insulation on both hives. Then I barely puffed the front door of the purple hive, barely puffed under the lid and counted to 10. I popped the top.

Purple Hive

In the top box, there were quite a few bees. Since I can’t remove the top box (it’s got the black roofing paper wrapped around both hives together and stapled to the boxes), I just removed all 8 frames and put them in a spare box. They were all still bare, although there were a couple that actually had a little bit of new wax that bees had made. I actually scraped out this new wax and the extra new wax on top of the bars just to get a ball of new wax about the size of 2 walnuts for making beeswax products.

The next box down was the first food box and there were a lot of girls on the frames, but there are still 8 frames full of capped honey. So the purple hive is still good on food.

I took several pics of the girls landing and coming into the purple hive. They are really bringing in the pollen today, all light and medium yellow and their little bags were quite stuffed. I put the hive back together. The girls were docile and busy.

Orange Hive

I puffed the front door and under the lid and then popped the cover and the lid. There were quite a few girls in the top box but it still has 8 frames of capped honey, so they are good for now, too.

On both top boxes and lids, I scraped off the propolis and cleaned up what I could around the edges.

I then took lots of pics of the girls bringing in pollen to this hive. They were also docile and busy.


I took several pics of the girls bringing in pollen. I just get my camera really close with my macro on and click away. However, upon reviewing the pics on the computer, the very first picture of the purple hive, I see a girl with a mite riding on her back! I took dozens of pictures with lots of girls and on both hives, that is the only girl with a mite. But if I could clearly see a mite on a girl, that has to mean that mites are an issue already in at least the purple hive.

Here are the pictures. You can see on the first picture this girls has a small, very shiny dark brown circle on her back on the right side, just at the top stripe on her body. That’s a mite. That’s bad news. All the rest of the pics are girls bringing in pollen. You can see their fat little bags of pollen on their back legs, one picture you can see a girl standing on the front porch and her bags of pollen are clear under her wings which are folded over the top of them. The last pic is just a couple of really fuzzy girls, one looking right at me with specs of pollen on her face and what looks like a very fuzzy fur muff around her neck. The girl next to her is fuzzy all over and has soft golden fur on her thorax and down her little body.


  1. I need to go to the bee supply store on Saturday, take the picture of the bee with the mite and check with the Wiz to make sure this is a mite and find out if it means I really need to treat now
  2. If I do need to treat, do I go ahead and treat both hives or just the purple hive?
  3. If I need to treat, I need to buy the mite-away safe strips


Be safe, little girls, don’t let the bed bugs bite before I can get a handle on them.

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