Inspection Report - 1/28/18
I thought it might help to give a quick background of your hives so you get an idea of what we’ve got going up there! I’m sure you have been filled in on much of this, so forgive me if this is redundant.
So you have two hives on the fourth floor roof. Two years ago we tried putting them together, but this last year I decided to space them apart to experiment which side of the roof works best. One hive is facing west, and the other east. They are about 30 feet apart from each other. I will call them the West and East hive for clarity.
The West hive is your stronger hive. They flourished this last spring and summer and was the hive we ended up pulling honey from. As you have seen they did a good job up there!! The West hive is four boxes big, meaning there are four separate boxes that contain honey and brood (baby bees).
The East hive is your weaker hive. They struggled throughout the spring and summer and I ended up feeding them a lot of supplement sugar water to help them build reserves (honey) for the winter. This hive has two boxes.
So during this time of year I don’t go very far into the hive as we don’t want cold air and rain getting inside, so most of the inspection is observing the bees just under the lid of the hive. The main thing I was doing during my visit was treating the bees for varroa mites. The varroa is a parasite accidentally introduced to America in the late 80’s. The varroa mite is the biggest problem the honey bee faces and most colony losses can be attributed to them, so keeping them under control is imperative.
What I treated them with is something called “oxalic acid vapor” and it’s as terrible as it sounds! Basically I mist the bees with acid vapor, which burns and scars the mouths of the varroa mite. This kills the adults and hopefully keeps the population of the mite down within the hive. Every single hive in America has varroa mites to some degree. In fact, very few countries are safe and really only New Zealand is varroa mite free!!
I also gave the bees some protein to help keep them properly fed. I basically open the top and put a “patty” of pollen on top. The bees will feed and consume it if they run short of natural pollen they’ve stored.
The last thing I did was to add some modifications to the winter cover that they have on them now to help prevent wind from getting in the hive. In the fall I added what’s called a “winter cover” to the hives that helps with moisture and keeps them warm. Part of the design bothered me so I added a simple modification to rectify the issue.
The West hive, which again is the strong hive, was relatively quiet, meaning they were not out gathering. Some of my other hives were out the same day so a tiny bit troubling that they weren’t out too. This could mean they were simply not motivated to exit, or that they are dwindling in numbers and in need of support.
I have attached a couple pictures. The first two are of me getting ready to treat the hive, and inspecting in my bee suit. You will note that the hives are wrapped with black tar paper. This is just to help keep strong winds from getting into the hive and cooling it.
There is also a picture of the bees gathered in the top of the hive. The white stuff on the left is sugar I added last time that they are eating as a supplement to the honey. They seem to have a good number of bees so this is a good sign.
The East hive bees were actually coming in and out of the hive which is great. A couple had found pollen and were bringing it back. They were slightly aggressive, which is also a good sign of a strong colony. I also gave this colony some pollen substitute and closed them up. I did not take any pictures of the bees inside the East hive but I did get a shot of it for you which I’ve attached.
We are just over half way through the winter and the days are getting longer. This will mean increased activity soon, and the bees will need a strong population. I am pleased with what I saw in both hives. They numbers of bees seemed good, and they still have reserves for the remainder of the winter. On the next visit I’ll be bringing further supplemental feed for them (sugar and pollen substitute). Hopefully things keep going as they have been.
Please let me know if you have any follow up questions or comments! I’m always happy to clarify!