Yesterday I made an evening visit to Sarah’s Bee Happy Plants nursery. It had to be after 5 as she has builders on site and one of them is allergic. Unfortunately Sarah had unexpectedly had to act as a taxi driver for her son and so wasn’t there but I looked at my hives anyway.
The first was the very first top bar hive I built, back in 1998, from second hand pallet wood. It has seen better days and is getting gappy so replacing it is on my ‘to do’ list. The queen’s running out of space! I saw no queen cells though. Next week (when I’m back from the BBKA Spring Convention) I shall return to that hive armed with a load of plastic bags to take a large harvest of honey. I have customers waiting.
The other hive I looked as isn’t doing as well. It is the top bar hive I made last year with a mesh floor and a tray beneath which Sarah regularly checks for varroa mites and samples of pollen etc. I took a look and, from the location of the debris, could see that they were occupying only the first few bars. I saw 1 varroa mite. Sarah tells me that they are averaging half a mite a day currently, although there was a massive fall of over 500 when I applied oxalic acid back in the winter.
We didn’t check the bees often enough last year to prevent them building their comb higgledly piggledly across the bars so I wasn’t able to separate them to examine the brood. Instead I moved about 5 unused bars from the rear of the hive to the front, next to the entrance. The bees should work forward and, if we check and adjust them often enough, stick to the straight and narrow.
I couldn’t wait for Sarah to return as I had to dash off to Dorchester where all 5 parliamentary candidates were attending an electoral hustings on environmental subjects.