Sunday, September 27, 2009

Goodbye to the Boys

The boys have been cast out. No more warmth of the hive and no more coddling or being fed by their dedicated sisters. I felt sorry for them. Their bodies, curled up and dead are scattered all over the stoop in front of both hives.

I really enjoyed visiting with the drones all summer, picking them up and enjoying watching them while they groomed or just hung out and then they'd fly off, looking for a queen.

I found one outside the hive, cold and near death. He was barely moving. I couldn't resist and put him in my apron pocket to warm him up. Later, seeing he was still alive, I fed him some of the honey I had in a jar. He really perked up after that. I held him out on my hand and let him decide whether to stay or go. He chose to go and flew way up high and then did a huge circle and headed back toward the hive. I wished him good luck.

I had done a mite count on both hives on the 27th Sept and found the mite population has increased substantially from 3 weeks ago. A few weeks ago when brood rearing had dropped off during the requeening there were about 2 and 3 mites showing on the sticky boards. But since then both new queens have gotten to work laying and so the mites have regained a foothold in the hives as the new brood hatches. The counts were #H2 - 8 mites and H1 - 15 mites in a 4 day period.

Previous to that the count was 12 and 18 mites on the boards but that was when the boards had been in for over 3 weeks.

I also found it very disturbing to find a couple of dead workers out front - with deformed bodies and tiny twisted wings. This is a sure sign of damage to the bee's body when capped in its cell--capped with the parasitic mother mite and her offspring they would feed on the bees' body while she is completely defenseless as a pupae. The mites feed where the wing muscles are and this damages the bees' wings and can also vector other diseases to the bees much like how mosquitoes spread malaria.

I realized that I must treat these hives if they are to survive the winter. So I took today as a holiday day and I went to Burgessville and got Formic Acid. This stuff creates a vapour that fumigates through the hive for 26 days (no entrance reducer). The bees of course won't like the fumes and will ventilate which will help the fumes to permeate the hive. It will penetrate the capped cells of the brood to kill Varroa Mites. It will probably also kill some of my precious brood as well (covering eyes so I don't have to read that part).

I also got a powder to do a fall AFB (American Foulbrood) treatment which I spooned out onto waxed paper that I put on top of the frames. This treatment is repeated for 3 more weeks.

The formic acid comes in a soaked pad which I set on top of two sticks just to keep it off the frames. The whole thing sits inside a "rim spacer" which just creates a space for the treatment pad. This rim spacer can also be used if feeding pollen paddies, etc.

(photo - see the green rim spacer under the white hive top feeder).

I hated doing it though and I confess I was upset enough about having to do it that I didn't want to take photos. I just have to share that with you. I was upset to put this noxious stuff in with my bees, and baby bees. I knew they wouldn't like it either.

But then I found a worker laying cold and soaking wet on the front stoop. I picked her up, thinking she was dead, but she wasn't. She moved her legs. I examined her closely. Her wings were deformed and her abdomen was too small. Overall she was smaller than she should be. She was damaged--damaged by mites feeding on her as a pupae. She would not live more than a day or so. She'd never fly and she would probably never enjoy her household chores of caring for brood or building comb. I realized that the treatment, although no one likes it, is really necessary.

I picked her up and put her in my apron pocket too. Later she emerged from my pocket, dry and lively. It's amazing how a little warmth and a little toweling off can revive a near dead bee. She ate honey from my hands and we visited for a while. I watched as she did her best to groom herself. I noticed she had mobility issues too. I knew she wouldn't live long. I wished her well too as I released her.

I wished them all well as I took up my wheelbarrow to head back down the path. I'll be thinking about them a lot over the next while.


Kat said...

What a very touching bee story. I love how you put them in your apron pocket! It must be sad to lose them. You have made me look at bees from a whole other point of view. Thank you.

Bee Magic Chronicles for Kids said...

That worker and I were together for 2 hours and she was on my hands a great deal of that time. She could have stung at any moment but never did. In fact, she was calmer when sitting on my hands than on any other surface. She probably liked liked the warmth but I like to think she was soaking up the loving vibes I was sending her way :)

Cliff W said...

You obviously have a very gentle touch and a great empathy with all creatures - great and small.

BTW; I'm glad that the land dispute seems near to being settled amicably :)