Aug 28 2017

there’s trouble in Mudville

I inspected the orange hive yesterday morning as the bees came out, about 8:45am at 72 degrees.

I got the smoker going and had a box for sorting.

This hive started as a 4X2 hive. The top two honey boxes were set aside. I permanently removed the queen excluder as I won’t be extracting any more honey from this hive and just let them make their own honey into the fall.

There was an “expansion” box of empty frames which was still completely empty so I removed this from the hive.

Orange Hive – Queen Dagmar

There were about 9 frames of bees, all busy and non-aggressive. There were just 2 frames of capped brood, and these were pretty much wall to wall with some pulled out randomly. There were 3 frames that had open brood, tiny brood and eggs. That doesn’t seem like a lot of brood for getting ready to go into winter. I did see the queen scuttling about in the bottom box 1 frame from the farthest west wall. There were 2 frames very heavy with pollen and 13 frames of nectar.

I did my fall mite inspection. I had a quart jar half filled with alcohol, and managed to gently scrape 1/3 – 1/2 cup of bees from the frames with open brood into the jar and put the lid on. Of course, this kills them – which is a shame. But it’s better than losing an entire hive to mites because I couldn’t see the mites on a sticky board or I relied on a “sugar shake” which is completely unreliable in my experience.

I then put the hive back together with just 5 western boxes, the top two with honey.


I then went inside and shook and swished and shook and swished the jar with the bees and alcohol for about 2 minutes. I poured them through a screen that was just small enough not to let the dead bees through, but would let anything else through and onto a white pad of paper towels so I could see any mites clearly…and…boy howdy! Just right there on the paper and on the sides of the jar about 25 mites. I didn’t even bother counting.  With 300 bees (1/2 cup), the count should be 5 mites or less.

No wonder she’s not building up very much. I had taken a video of the girls in the hive and here it is.  If you look carefully at the video right when there are 7 seconds left to play and to the end, right in the middle of the screen you can see a girl with a very reddish-brown round mite stuck to her back shoulders. It’s the size that a giant rhinoceros beetle would be on our backs. I didn’t know this would be on the video, but after I realized there were mites, I scanned the video on slow motion carefully and found this poor girl.

So I called around and found a feed and tack store that carries Mite Away Quick Strips, ran over and got a couple of packs (enough for 4 complete treatments).

This morning, when I inspect one of the other hives, I’ll install this treatment on the orange hive.

Here is a video of the girls working the Russian sage in the front yard. You can see just hundreds of bees flickering around in the sage.

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