The Thermosolar hives at Berwick are based on a standard National hive, but with some modifications. I have a video below showing the basic organisation and construction:
The Thermosolar ceiling is only used during mite treatment hence why I just have the roof at the moment.
The occupied hive was flying well considering how chilly it was – we seem to have been stuck with cool, breezy, dull weather here in Sussex which is not ideal foraging weather. The blackthorn is just starting to flower in the planted native hedge along the edge of the solar farm; see my previous blogpost on how incredibly valuable such a thing is for bees and pollinators.
Next time I will bait the swarm box with lemongrass oil and hopefully it will be warm enough to pop the lid of the Thermosolar hive and check how the bees are getting on with their honey stores. They will have eaten most of it over the winter but I need to make sure they have enough room to expand as once the weather clears up and the nectar starts to flow, they can build up quite rapidly.
There are very few mites on the inspection board, which is really encouraging as there was a large load earlier on in the autumn. In the middle photo below you can see 3 mites: the bottom one is upside down as you can see its 8 little mitey legs. The photo on the right shows a couple of wax flakes circled in black, and the white worm-y looking thing is actually a bit of bee larvae that the workers have pulled out. This could show hygienic behaviour, where the bees detect a problem with the larva in the cell and remove it. I noticed this before with the colony so it will be interesting to see what the bees do.
Next time I will do a proper count as I can it will be easier to calculate the drop over a period of time as the colony has started building up for spring, and this is when the Varroa will start to accumulate.
If you would like to support me in my work, I invite you to take a look at my Patreon page where there is a wealth of information for anyone wanting to see sustainable beekeeping through the season.