We went to see the Thermosolar bees this week to see if they had built up any more since the last inspection. It was a very bright and breezy day at the solar farm, and both hives were flying well.
We took the inspection boards out to check for Varroa:
There were a few wax moth larvae on the board of the younger colony which will have eaten much of the detritus, hence the difference in the amount seen. There were a fair number of Varroa but no deformed wing virus evident.
We took the lid off the right hand hive to see if they had made any progress in the super:
They have made very little progress since our last visit which is quite surprising given the weather has been largely favourable. That said, there is not a great deal of forage at the moment. A few Michaelmas daisies were beginning to flower, and the umbellifers in the water courses were showing their frothy inflorescences, but few other things noticeably available. We tend to forget that many bee species rely on trees for their forage, and honey bees are no exception. Oak, sycamore and chestnuts are fantastic bee plants but the bees here are clearly struggling to make headway. This could be to do with Varroa load.
I had put a super on the other hive in case they romped away, but again, barely any progress. They have a super of comb which they are filling, but it was nowhere near at capacity. Many bee colonies have died out this year, and the lack of general buzz and hum was noticeable. Hopefully next time we visit the daisies will be out and the bees will be building up strongly in preparation for autumn.
The sheep have left their grazing under the solar panels for now, and we were musing on how the shaded and sunny strips would create a mosaic of flora over time, aided by the lack of cultivation and healthy trampling by the sheep.