Hive Activity

Its a delightful 50 degrees outisde right now, and I’m astonished to find Trunchen Hive busy with bees. I suspected that a robbery was taking place, but there are live drones being taken from the hive. I don’t understand how the hive could still bees in it, given that I smacked the hive hard enough that there should’ve been at least a slight buzzing detectable. I’m really tempted to put my suit on and go open the hive up, but I don’t want to risk killing the hive if there really is one still in there. I picked one of the drones up and found its wings in a state similar to the previous drone’s.

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Keep in mind that this drone had just flown to the top of our yard on his own. Isn’t he a weird color though? Every so often a really golden bee would fly out. I can see why people like italians. They are rather pretty.

So, apparently I still have bees in one of my hives, but by the looks of things they have a wing disease. And I’m really starting to wonder why they’re keeping the drones around for so long. Aren’t they supposed to have done away with them at the first sign of winter? And there is the potential that the queen is only capable of laying drones. Which would be really unfortunate. That said, if they make it well into spring then I can just requeen them and save myself some money. That is, if the wing problem is just a gene thing. I’ll have to do some research on wing deformities to see what I can find out.

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8 responses to “Hive Activity”

  1. Emily Heath says :

    Deformed wing virus, associated with varroa, shrivels up wings. Wondering if another possibility is that the workers have been biting and pulling at the drones’ wings and damaging them?

    • willowbatel says :

      Yeah, I was worried it may be deformed wing virus. The wings are definitely shrived and slightly discolored, as opposed to ripped up and tattered. Is there anything you would recommend for deformed wing virus? I’d love it if it were something that I could get rid of naturally/by lowering the varroa mite population of the hive.

      • Emma Sarah Tennant says :

        It might be deformed wing virus, as Emily says, a disease likely to be spread by varroa. Natural treatments for varroa include oxalic acid (essentially a naturally occuring substance found in many foods including rhubarb leaves) in midwinter on a near-to/or-broodless colony or sugar dusting regularly in spring and summer, although this only gets rid of around 20% of the mites and to be effective a treatment needs to get rid of around 80-90%. You could also try drone brood culling in spring and summer, if the colony is strong enough, as a husbandry technique to monitor and keep down varroa. Apiguard is also an option based on naturally occuring chemical thymol, also present in many of my essential oil treatments!

        Perhaps you could also post your blog on one of the beekeeping forums on Facebook like the http://www.facebook.com/beginnerbeekeepers or the Facebook London Beekeepers Association http://www.facebook.com/beginnerbeekeepers#!/groups/2512721609/

        I’m sure they would be interested to read and help out with suggestions.

        Great post, love the drone photos!

        • willowbatel says :

          Unfortunately I wasn’t able to get into the hive and do anything this year because its a Warre’ and the bees attached all of the comb to the walls. I’m going to invest in a proper Warre’ hive tool this year and fix the top bars a bit so the bees are more inclined to follow a straight line, and also not attach the comb to the walls. Otherwise I would’ve definitely culled the drone population, since last year was their first year and they were a colony that swarmed.
          I’ll definitely look into this later when I’ve got the time. Right now I’m looking at beekeeping supplies, local laws and regulations, and insurance policies for my class research project. I also have a 3 page essay to write by tomorrow. Its 11:37 pm. I’m not likely to get these things done…

          • Emma Sarah Tennant says :

            If only you had lots of worker bees to help you get all these jobs done! 😉 Beekeeping certainly is a demanding hobby and I’m interested to hear how you get on with your Warre hive having never used this before. Good luck with your essay too! 🙂

            • willowbatel says :

              I think the good news is that there are enough reasons for me to pull the hive apart that I can actually do so without feeling guilty. Disrupting the brood cycle for a bit will lower the mite count and the bees will get a second chance to draw the wax out ‘correctly’ so that I can get in and inspect everything.
              Thanks! I look forward to seeing how I get all this done as well, haha

      • Emily Heath says :

        Emma has given you lots of great suggestions – if you weren’t able to treat last year that has probably allowed the varroa population to increase to undesirable levels. It’s best to use a range of treatments throughout the year, so that you’re constantly batting mite levels back down again. hope the essay went well!

        • willowbatel says :

          I’m not exactly sure what I want to do just yet. I really don’t like the idea of using chemicals to treat for this, so if I can avoid them then I’m going to try to do that.
          I got the points that the teachers expect of me for the essay so I’m happy, haha.That said, I’ve got two, thousand word essay questions for my midterm due wednesday. These teachers really like essays :/

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