Monday, November 5, 2012

Bee Vlog - November 4, 2012

Hive weigh-in: Both hives weigh 117 lbs. It's interesting that they are at the same weight now when, previously, Queen Anne was significantly out weighing Queen Beatrice.

It's been nearly a month since I've been able to observe the bees on a nice, sunny, warm day. Today it was 63 F when I paid them a visit. Activity levels between the hives have seemed to switch patterns. Queen Anne was relatively quiet while Queen Beatrice was the busy one.

Queen Anne has been fighting a bad case of varoa mites. I've been seeing dead larva that have been pulled from their cells and deposited outside the hive. They've had dead mites attached to them. I suspect (or hope) that this is actually a good thing: that the bees are dealing with the infestation by removing the larva and thus breaking the mites' brood cycle. In the process though, they are also seeing a drop in population as the summer bees die off and new winter bees are fewer due to their culling methods. It should be interesting to see how well they do over winter.

I have no inclination to apply any kind of mite treatments. I don't believe it to be a beneficial long-term solution. I'll be very saddened to lose them of course, but I'd rather have good genetic stock that can handle mites themselves than start treating. It's better, not only for my bees, but the other bees in the area. If this colony can survive the infestation then they have superior genes and they will pass on these traits to other neighboring colonies. Otherwise their weaker genetics will die off. It's harsh, but that's really the way of nature. If I treat the mites then I encourage the survival of weaker genetics, and also breed stronger mites. Both results are contrary to the goal.

Video Link
Photos featured in the video:
A dead larva with 2 dead mites attached, and half of a dead bee.

A view of the larva where the mites are visible.

Queen Anne's bottom board: lots of dead bees and larva. Looks to me like the workers aren't able to keep up with the cleaning work, either because of all the rain or the death rate...or both.

Queen Beatrice's bottom board, just to show the contrast between the 2 hives.