I had my last ADT shot today and was feeling a little off center, so I decided to take the rest of the day off and check on BnB1 after the mite treatment and new queen addition. I’ve been monitoring the front of the hive and there have been a lot of yellowjackets and robber bees trying to get in. I put a robber screen up on the front to help them while the queen was hopefully laying some new brood.
The last time I did an inspection on Labor Day, I put a follower board after the first 6 frames to make a nuc-like environment for her to lay in. The idea was to have the bees only concentrate on the 6 combs instead of an entire hive. This morning I noticed some yellowjackets going in the front door without being challenged – not a good sign.
When I opened up the hive, I found a few more yellowjackets behind the follower board. They were going after honey in the combs back there. I also noticed evidence of wax-moths – trails of eaten comb and larvae crawling through the tunnels. Since there are no bees back there to keep the combs clean, the yellowjackets and moths were free to do their worst.
When I pulled back the follower board, no bees greeted me, so I knew the hive was toast. There were just a couple of bees on a few of the combs and when I got to the brood combs, there were just a few cells that were capped and some more with new larva. Some of the uncapped larvae were standing vertical and were most likely dead. I did a rope test for American Foul Brood (AFB), but they were just mushy larvae.
There just weren’t enough bees to properly tend the larva. I found the queen and she had a big old mite on her back.
So, with the lack of brood, a mited queen and very few bees, I decided to call it quits for this year. I took all the combs out of the hive, shook off the bees and put them in some standby nucleus hives I have. I’ll sort through them and keeps the best combs (new, some honey and/or pollen, no wax moth evidence) and harvest the honey and wax from the others. I’ll put the ones I keep in the freezer for a bit – just to kill off any mites/moths that might be present. I captured the queen and will kill her and put her in a vial of alcohol to use for a swarm trap in the future.
While I was inspecting, robber bees and yellowjackets were all over the hive.
So, it was a failed experiment, but hopefully next spring, I can split BnB2 and start up BnB1 again. Looks like neither St. Florian, nor the Seabees could help this poor colony.