Inspection Report - 8/18/2018
This inspection was to determine how increased feeding and the smoke from recent forest fires have affected the bees. Also, late summer mite treatments will start.
COLONY 1 - West Facing
The west facing colony is starting to show signs of population slowdown. This is normal as they prepare for winter bees and smaller colony size. I added some further sugar water, but may discontinue for a bit as they seem to have built up enough reserves for me to stop. I will continue to feed in the fall should they need it.
I also did the first of three treatments for varroa mites. The varroa mite is a parasite accidentally introduced to the US in the late 80's and will kill an entire colony if not dealt with. All bee colonies have mites, this is not unexpected.
The below picture shows the method for treating varroa mites using Oxalic Acid and a device that vaporizes it into a mist that envelops the bees. A lawnmower battery is hooked to a special device to do this.
COLONY 2 - North Facing
The north facing colony was also treated for varroa mites and given a gallon of sugar water as a feed and stimulant to the queen. The population is also fairly strong, but numbers were smaller as expected.
One serious note is that it appears that the colony has lost its queen. There were no signs of new eggs or larvae. This was a bit alarming as the queen was performing very strong in the past few inspections.
I decided to leave them to see if they would generate a new queen on their own. On the next inspection I will be bringing a replacement queen with me to add if there are no signs of a new queen.
A queen dying is not something that is unusual, but typically they create a new one fairly quickly. The fact that they haven't yet suggests she either just died, or she has stopped laying. In either case, she should be replaced as we need a strong queen going into the fall.
The last few weeks have seen the influx of smoke from the regions forrest fires and has been extremely thick. It has absolutely had a direct impact on the bees and is causing them to be a bit more agitated than normal.
I do not think that the queen issue in the North facing colony has anything to do with the smoke, but it should be noted that a queenless colony could abscond with the increased stresses we've seen from higher than normal temperatures and smoke. There is not much that can be done other than to reduce any stresses until the smoke conditions clear.
I am not concerned with the potential of the queen loss at this point. On the next inspection I will either correct the issue or confirm that the queen was replaced.