Party bees and disease!

Another inspection today of Hive Rebecca and it was great to have Stuart along to help. We decided to work from the bottom up.

The hive has an open mesh Varroa floor which allows any debris from the hive to be collected for inspection. I’ve looked previously but haven’t ever spotted anything significant, other than dropped wax capping, but this time it was interesting! There was some chalk brood and some Varroa mites.

chalk broodChalk brood is an extremely common disease caused by a fungus and, in itself, isn’t something to worry about.  However, it can be a sign that the colony is ‘stressed’ by something else, and that something else is often Varroa. (picture from the internet)
Varroa is a species of mite, first discovered in the UK in 1992. It lives as an external parasite on the bee and feeds on both adult and brood, weakening them and spreading disease. Unfortunately every colony will have Varroavarroa mite but it’s the degree of infestation that’s important. Severely infested colonies usually die out so it’s important to kept it under control. This is the first time I have clearly seen Varroa so the infection is probably still mild. I do, however, need to treat the infection before the winter when the bees are weaker and the toll of having a parasite becomes greater. (picture from the internet)

IMG_2218Despite the signs of disease, the 2 brood boxes were looking good.  The bees were in a happy IMG_2220mood, possibly the sunny weather, possibly Stuart’s calming influence!  We spotted them doing a party conga line between two pieces of drawn comb!  No idea what they were up too but it was rather amusing.

The queen is still laying in both boxes with 5 combs filled with larvae, capped brood and stores around the edges. There were 11 frames full of stores and 6 frames empty. A colony needs 18-22kg of stores to survive the winter. A frame holds about 2.2kIMG_2221g so I recon there’s 24kg of stores plus the extra round the edges. The empty frames were at the edges of the boxes with the stores in the centre, a good location for the cluster to access the stores in winter. I think I’ll feed once more before the next inspection then start the Varroa treatment.

So all in all, an interesting inspection.

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