We had an amazing turn out for the first 2019 training yard inspection. Thanks to all who took the time to participate. I hope your hives are doing well.
Finding all but one hive in good condition was the best part of the inspection. Lots of brood, bees and some drone larva with little evidence of mite issues. We reversed the supers, moving the bottom super to the top, checked brood conditions and exchange the internal feeder for a clean one. The feeders were given a bit of light syrup. The bottom boards were cleared of winter debris. One hive had small hive beetle which we treated with two strips of Scotch Brite wipes. I’m in hopes the beetle will be controlled early and not reproduce.
The hive we lost was from a BONS package installed in April 2018. This equates to a 12% loss. The inspection evidence suggests this hive suffered from a failed queen. There was a tiny spot of capped brood and dead bees on the screen bottom board. This queen had not been replaced last year when other queens were replaced. The other hives and the overwintered nucs all had new queens mid-summer last year.
Several of our hives are now two seasons old, just starting into their 3rd season. I’m becoming more and more convinced that mid-summer queen replacement as a standard management practice is one easily overlooked key to success. After mid-summer mite treatment, simply replacing the queen helps the late summer and early fall bees stay healthy with increased bee volume for winter. This is something we can discuss and implement.
Our pride and joy hive is the nuc from last year that has the locally produced queen. She came to Clermont as a ripe queen cell, was placed into a 5 frame nuc with brood, bees and food. We tended this nuc carefully and have now established that we can get a local queen into a hive and through the winter. I hope to find a few swarm cells and see if we can produce more high quality local queens.
I had planned to do several alcohol mite washes but ran short of time. As I’m sure there are mites in our hives, I will follow my normal spring process of treating all the hives using formic acid and have Formic Pro available to treat. I plan to produce nucs on Saturday April 20th from purchased queens due mid week (around April 17th). I want to have mites controlled for these nucs. Because the Formic Pro treatment is 14 days, the treatment needs to be completed no later than Saturday April 13th. If my counting is correct, treatment starting Saturday March 30th will be finished by Saturday April 13th. Tight timing for us and good weather is necessary. As high temperature (over 85°F) won’t be likely, the worst case is that treatment is not as effective as the label’s suggested temperature range would permit.
We opened the BroodMinder equipped 10 frame hive after uploading the stored data. The BroodMinder equipment is working well. The hive’s data indices that the hive is losing weight (approximately 10 lbs) since monitoring started in February. The brood area sensor is reporting brood temperatures in range (mid 90°F) and normal moisture levels. The sensor located under the top cover is following the anticipated trend showing temperatures above ambient but lower than brood area and a higher moisture levels at the hive’s top. The hive inspection showed that the hive’s condition matched the instrumentation data in that there are lots of bees using food to keep the brood fed and warm. You can review this data at https://map.beecounted.org/citizen_science/embedded_map .
There were lots of bees flying, different colors of pollen coming in and excellent brood production. A great start to the 2019 beekeeping season! I attached a photo showing some of the action.