Apiary visit and checking for Varroa destructor in my hives

Its amazing how fast seven days go but with a busy weekend ahead it was neccessary to check the bees earlier today just to see how they were getting on since the last visit. The hives are really beginning to build up well with strong colonies in them all and good brood patterns on the comb and they are bringing in good amounts of nectar and making honey now so they should have enough stores for over wintering and maybe even a little for me to take out and enjoy! With this in mind I made a flying visit to Thornes in Windsor to pick up some 40 kg honey tanks to allow the settling, or ripening, of the honey after it has been extracted from the frames and strained as it will need to sit for at least 24 hours to allow any air bubbles to rise t the surface of the honey before it is poured into the jars.

The third hive that had the swarm put in it back in June had an extra shallow brood supper added last week – this was made up of all new undrawn wax foundation and again the bees have amazed me with how fast they can draw out the wax comb when there is a nectar flow on – about half of these frames have been drawn out on both sides in the week and partially filled with honey already – I had a taste of some of the honey filled brace comb today – it’s an amazing experience to taste totally fresh, unfiltered, strained or unheated honey straight fom the hive, the aromas fill your mouth and go to the back of your nose and you realise why honey is refered to as the  ‘food of the gods’.

Now that the colonies are hopefully past swarming, the queens are laying well, the brood has expanded and there are many adult worker bees in the hive bringing in the honey my mind has turned to looking again at the health of the colonies. The weekly visits are always looking for irregularities in the brood as this can indicate a number of viral, fungal or parasitic problems within the hive of which there are very many, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diseases_of_the_honey_bee

I have varroa mesh floors on all the hives and this is meant to reduce the mite count by 40% but as yet I have yet to see any mites in the hive, on the bees or on the floor board during mite checks. I decided to use the uncapping fork to lift some drone brood from the comb today as these are likley to be the host areas for varroa mites and gives you an indication of the amount of mite present in the hive. The only problem with my newly queened hives is that there is a lot of worker brood but not much drone brood at present at the moment. I checked the hive that had the most drone brood but after several ‘excavations’ I had only found one mite – I am hoping that this is a good sign and that the strong colony is dealing with the mites but it does also show that they are present, whereas prior to this I had not seen any evidence of their presence in the hive.


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