Finally the bee doctor (National Bee Unit inspector) comes calling …

My last bee blog entry was about winding down the beehives for the year and getting them ready for winter, checking for a healthy queen, bees and brood, feeding sugar syrup to make up for the honey removed in August and dealing with any diseases and parasites in the hive.

My new cross-mated buckfast queen

My new cross-mated buckfast queen

The last few apiary visits have been fine with healthy bees seen in the hive, good br0od (eggs and pupa) and plenty of stores for the winter (honey for the bees and pollen for early brood rearing) and I even got to finally meet my new queen in Ogwen (my hives are all named after Welsh mountains) introduced into the hive back in August by my friend Paul – she is much lighter in colour than my other queens and seems to be laying very well now and I have no doubt it is a good thing to increase the gene pool in the apiary!

My new queen in action

My new queen in action

There is still some evidence of varroa mite on the bees and I am hoping that my Thymol treatment (Apilife Var) has been effective enough to reduce the mite see the colonies through the winter. In the photos you will see that the queen is marked with a white dot (to help find her easily during the inspections) if you look at the picture below you can see that the bee to her left is carrying a red varroa mite in the middle of its thorax (I didn’t spot this when I took the photo).

New queen, varroa mite on thorax of bee to her left

New queen, varroa mite on thorax of bee to her left

There has also been a small amount of unsealed brood in the hive, known as ‘bald brood’ caused by the bees uncapping the developing pupa prematurely due to the presence of lesser wax moth larvae in the cells (they feed on the cell lining) but on the whole the colonies seem to be strong and healthy and very active in all three hives and on both apiary sites.

My hives are registered with the National Bee Unit (NBU), which is part of FERA, and they keep a database of beekeepers and apiary sites called  BeeBase in order that they can monitor for disease and colony loss in the UK and try to prevent the spread of diseases through either treating or culling infected colonies. This is very important at a time when the global bee population seem to have their very existence threatened with many factors affecting their survival.

I visited the NBU website last week and saw that they had been notified of a diseased colony within 5km of my hives and I was dreading hearing from them … well that call has finally come through today as they have had a case of European Foul Brood reported locally and as part of confining the spread they are now required to check my colonies for disease and then make a decision on their future. I am confident they are all okay and that my inspections and treatments have been effective but I am also aware that I am still very much a novice when it comes down to recognising bee diseases and I guess if they are infected that it’s better to find out now and deal with it rather than finding empty hives in the spring and not really knowing what happened.

Hive getting ready for the winter

Hive getting ready for the winter, will it survive or is it destined to be burn't?

If the hives are infected the bee inspector will decide on the best course of action – either treatment for light infestation in a strong colony or burning the bees, frames and even the hives in the worst case scenario.

After so much work in keeping the bees strong and healthy throughout the last two years I will be very disappointed if I lose all my bees now and have to start again in the spring next year but I guess that is all part of bee keepers life and the outcome of the inspectors  visit will no doubt be the subject of my next blog!

If you have enjoyed this blog feel free to tell me (or rate it)  it’s always nice to hear back from fellow bee-keepers and from those who love and want to support the bees but maybe don’t have the time or the opportunity yet.


One response to this post.

  1. I’ve enjoyed following your blog – I stumbled across it a few months before I got my own 2 hives this spring. It’s been a help and a pleasure reading about your experiences in beekeeping! I hope your inspection goes well and no foul brood is found!


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