I braved the heat this morning to go and visit the Thermosolar bees at Berwick. The original colony was its usual feisty self, so I removed the top box containing the tubs of cappings, which they had duty sculpted in to new comb.
They were not at all pleased to see me, and it was too breezy for me to use the smoker, so I contented myself with a look down through the frames and a perusal of the bottom board. There is a lot of Varroa but I can’t undertake a thermal treatment with honey supers, and I am wondering if the consistently higher temperatures afforded by the front solar panel are heating the nest to Varroa-zapping levels; the bees don’t respond well to disturbance and I will need another pair of hands and a turbo-charged smoker to get the temperature probes in to the nest as they will not appreciate the intrusion.
I checked the other hive, which had its swarm installed a few weeks ago. Unfortunately the colony doesn’t have a properly mated queen. When this happens, she can only lay unfertilised eggs (only fertilised eggs become female/worker bees) and this is known as a Drone Laying Queen, or DLQ. It’s more than just only laying drone eggs though, as she does not produce the correct pheromone to keep the colony working and developing as it should so it goes a bit wonky. Here is a short vid showing what I mean.
It is quite likely that the nextdoor colony will detect that there is no queen and her essential queen pheromone and raid the hive, pilfering the contents, which is not a problem in itself but we are then back to one colony. There seems no inclination of the existing colony to swarm (as is often the case with feisty bees in my experience) so we shall see what the rest of the beekeeping season brings.
Here are the original colony working hard:
I took some photos of the other wildlife on site – remembering that the hives are here primarily to encourage and engage people about biodiversity.