An Inspection Story: Beetles, Bubbles, Ants, Slime, Webs, and a Flying Queen
Preface: Yet another Novice Beekeeper here, so please keep in mind that I'm learning and am apt to make mistakes. I started in early May with a package of mostly syrup drowned bees and a Buckfast Queen, then in Mid-May with a package of replacement bees and an Italian Queen. I ended up splitting the replacement package to equalized the hives with the bees that survived the syrup drowning and starting off with two small hives. The Buckfast Queen never layed and by time I realized what was going on it was too late and the hive didn't make it. That left me with the Italian Hive that I had intended to requeen with a Buckfast Queen. Fast forward a few months...
I ended up requeening with a New World Carniolan (NWC) queen on the 22nd of August because of a delay in getting the Buckfast one. It was getting late in the season and I wasn't sure when I was going to get her so I decided I had better do something to help my hive make it through winter. (The Italian Queen didn't lay a very good pattern and I was worried about overwintering Italian bees in a weak hive.)
To make up for the lost hive, I ordered an Nuc of Buckfast bees that I could "Chop and Crop". (I know that this isn't recommended but that was the solution I chose to get the bees this year.) I picked up my nuc on the 25th of August, and bonus, not only was the nuc Buckfast with Tiger trait but my English Buckfast queen was there for me to take too. YAY!!! Ummm, uh oh...I just requeened that hive and don't want to mess with it any more right now. I decided to take her and make a small nuc from the chop and crop and existing hive and give myself time to let the bees settle down and figure out what to do (aka did I want to off a new queen that I just paid good money for...)
The Chop and Crop went very well despite the carnage and upheaval. Fast forward to my Labor Day Inspection...
I decided enough time had gone by that the NWC queen would be settled in that I could inspect and make sure they weren't trying to superseed her. The inspection went really well. The queen was in there laying away, cells full of eggs, large retinue of workers surrounding her, etc. I did, however, spot 4 beetles during my inspection. Two were in the area with the feeder, two were in the other end that is closed off with a solid follower board. I didn't see any in the hive proper, none on the comb and no larva evidence. The hive has no pollen stores so I have been feeding pollen patties on wax paper on the screened bottom of the hive. They have been eating them well and then chewing up the wax paper and taking it out of the hive so I thought this was working great (remember this for later). I did notice that the "nectar" in the comb has bubbles in it and it worried me that maybe it is fermenting or something but it wasn't actively bubbling. I have been feeding them "Bee Tea" for a few weeks now, but I try to change it often if they don't drain the jar quick enough so that it won't ferment.
I was not going to inspect the other hive or the nuc but then noticed some things that made me think I had better. I had seen some ants going to an area on the bottom board of the hive that has the chop and crop and also the nuc in it. The damp area that the ants were after was under where the nest was (I took care of most the ants with an ant bait station near the hive leg they were trailing up), not where the feeder was so I dropped the bottom board to check out what was going on. When I did that I saw that under where the pollen pattie had been on the nuc there was a slime area. Uh Oh!! There were also larva in the slime. When I checked the nuc the combs looked fine, but while I was trying to put down the camera after taking a picture of the English Buckfast queen...she decided to walk over to my glove and then went airborne. NOOO!!!! Now I have a queen buzzing around me like I'm a traffic tower, the queen I had waited months to get, and I have no clue how to get her back into the hive! I keep looking at the rest of the combs in hopes that she would land on one and I could put her in, but instead she landed on me and started walking up my chest toward my veil. When I tried to gently shake her into the hive she launched airborne again (flying queens are sure loud!) and I was just starting to panic when she landed on the comb I had pulled and I quickly put her back in the hive. SHEW!!!
When I inspected the Tiger Buckfast hive they looked great. They were busy attaching the cropped ends to the bars, no sign of beetles or anything, nice amount of eggs, etc... I had to fix how one bar was hanging but other than that I just wanted to make sure the queen had made it through the Chop and Crop carnage because I didn't spot her when I did it. She was in there safe and sound, really nice pattern of eggs and they were busy bringing in pollen from somewhere.
When I looked at the bottom board from that hive, I saw lots of larva in the debris from under the Tiger hive...so at that point I thought maybe they looked better than they were? I'm not sure I like the screened bottom boards. I am starting to wonder if it just lets these pests in? After seeing that I decided I had better drop the bottom board from the other hive too and check it out. That one had larva but in webs! Wax Worms? They were right under where my wax paper for the pollen pattie was.
So, despite the combs looking good, I am now concerned that they are all under attack by every bug out there except mites (didn't see them at all). Of course...the mites might have been hiding on me...
I'll try to add some pictures, but it doesn't want to let me right now.
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