Sunday, February 21, 2010

Inspection 2/21/10

Mary & Myrina
54 f
Sunny's 54 degrees. Really!

She is in her last days unless I do something drastic. Even then she might not make it. Her end is at hand. Poor Mary, she never could figure things out.

Before i opened the top there were only a few girls flying around the hive. The first fly day since mid-January. One would expect there to be tons of bees taking cleansing flights. When the cover came off I saw hundreds of dead bees covering the sugar on the inner cover.

95% of these bees are dead

This sugar was put on the inner cover Jan 18th. It had hardened over from the moisture in the hive. The brown stain is bee waste. It could be Nosema but I'm not sure. When I cleaned out the entrance lots of dead bees fell out. Maybe it was clogged, so the girls had nowhere to go. I regularly clean the dead bees out the entrance. They are apparently dying faster than I am cleaning.

Nosema or clogged entrance?

This is the Vent box. Very messy. The Inner cover was stained just as bad. If you click on the image a larger image will open. There you can see where the girls chewed the styrofoam around the vent holes to make them bigger.

Now I got a good look at Mary's cluster. What a sad sight indeed. A couple of hundred bees is all that remains of Mary. Her cluster could fit in a two cup measuring cup. She can't possibly generate enough heat to survive these cold Winter months now. Egg laying should be starting soon if not already. Without sufficient heat to rear brood, let alone lay eggs, Queen Mary won't have a chance to replace the dead bees with new bees. She is over the edge. Past the point of no return.

The Last Stand

I pulled out all the frames to see what's going on. Four frames were light on stores so I replaced them with honey & pollen frames I had in waiting (The cleaned Wax moth frames from this post). The remaining frames had plenty of honey in them. Plenty of dead bees too. Two types of dead bee. The 'Starvation bee' & the 'Cold bee'.

Symmetry in death

The 'starvation' bees are tails out of the cells. They were inside the cluster when they died. The 'cold' bees died on the outside of the cluster where the temps were coldest. They were likely too cold to re-enter the cluster to feed. You can see the outline of the cluster at the time these 'cold' bees died. Oh, might I add a giant 'I Think" to the above hypothesis.

Also I found where Mary's girls were storing the sugar in one of the frames.

Sugar in cells

Notice how they put it in the brood area of the frame. Apparently beneath where they were clustering. Must have been done on a few warmer, but not fly, days. I replaced the hard messy sugar on top of the inner cover with fresh sugar. I hope it helps.

I've posted a question about their plight on the BeeMaster web forum. Lots of ideas there. I'll post what I do with sad, sad Mary.

Queen Mary nearing her end


What's to say about an aggressive clean freak who's population is sky-high. Other than she's doing fine if not great. Popped her cover to find thousands of bees moving freely around the inner cover where i put the sugar last month. I swear one of them yelled at me with a Brooklyn accent "Hey yous,..Shut dat door...We's workin' here". These bees came out of that hive like it was on fire. All of them head-butting me to move me off. I can't imagine how bad honey collection is going to bee in July when it's hot.


The best part of this was that I could not find ANY dead bees. All her dead have been removed with the efficiency of a well oiled machine. Note that you do not see any bee waste anywhere. These are some very hygenic bees.

Next I took off the inner cover to look at her population. After all those bees came out to greet me I didn't think I needed to but should just to make sure.

Myrina's Legions

I don't think Myrina knows it's Winter. Just thousands of bees busy with hive chores milling about. Remember she's a double deep so there is much more than you see here. Again, not one single dead bee was to be found. I began to pull a frame to check for brood when another cloud of bees came at me. I realized I did not have the smoker with me. I didn't bring it thinking it was to cold to need it. Again Myrina always likes to prove me wrong. I called it a day and closed her up. I'll check her brood on the next warm day instead. She's healthy & strong. No need to pester her just yet.

1 comment:

immwia said...

Very sad news about Mary, I know you have tried to give her help were you could.