All very end-of-season at the Apiary with the focus on ensuring that each colony has a robust queen, is of sufficient size and health the survive the winter and has sufficient stores. Hive 1/3 may have produced a virgin queen (who will stay that way as there are not drones around). We could not see her. The final step will be to find the colony an active queen and kill the virgin who has no hope of becoming a mated queen.
The MAQS strips have hopefully killed off varroa mites on the bees and in the cells. The bees have been busy and there were no obvious fatalities or adverse reaction to the medication. I reduced the hive entrance again and put in the varroa board and will keep a close eye on the number of dead mites each day.
As a reward for putting up with the formic acid I have been giving them sugar syrup (2lbs of 1 pt). Of my God how much can they consume? Currently a 2lb bag or more every day but I would rather do this and be confident that they have sufficient food stores for winter and a possible late spring.
In the brood box there was plenty of capped brood and some larvae so the queen is still laying. The new frame I put in a few weeks ago remains untouched and they continue to use the dirty old wax in the short frames that the original nucleus arrived on. I moved it one space in and put a horrid frame on the end. It had some stores and a bit of brood but probably worth sacrificing this for cleanliness.
Other Bee-related activity
The Association Supper was very enjoyable. Good company and nice environment. The competitive show was fun but if you take honey presentation and wax block production too seriously you could lose your reason. Life is too short to fiddle around like that. I learnt a lot refining my candle wax and aesthetically the candles were first class but for some reason the test candle could not be re-lit after it was blown out by the judge, so I was downgraded to 'disqualified'! Better news on the cake front 'First Prize' which is very pleasing. After all the hoo-ha with jars and finding one of them had a manufacturing fault, then having to bottle late, I ended up with some air bubbles in the honey which I know is a big judging fault so no prizes there. Tony said "best stick to making cakes" which I thought was a bit cheeky.
Sue on the egg stall in Ridley Road Market alerted me to an abandoned WBC hive in a local garden. I went to have a look and to my horror the lid was not properly on and it was full of dark, horrible wax and probably wax-moth and disease. God knows what horrors are being unleashed just a few roads away from where my hive is. I was loaded down with shopping so left it at that but did alert the Regional Bee Inspector. However, I went back today and spoke to the girls who live there. It turns out that tow of them are bee-keepers with hives close by and are also members of my Association but have never attended a course or other events. We closed the hive up and they promised to burn it asap. I am not sure why they were not concerned for the health of their own colonies. I will go back in a few days and check that they have done so.
Bee Trivia No 6
A Queen Bee can lay up to 1,500 eggs per day. So having a healthy fertile queen in the colony is essential