I took a trip to Berwick today, as it is due to warm up again and I needed to spend more than 3 minutes in my bee suit to make sure the bees were ok. Surprisingly the hive I thought had succumbed to wax moth was alive and very much kicking. Given how grumpy that colony is, I think the moths may have bitten off more than they can chew, pardon the pun. To be fair this is a terrible time of year to be checking bees as they are fully primed to defend their stores from wasps and other invaders, and the plus side to their irascible temperament might mean they have been able to get the better of the moths.
I noticed a clump of propolised cocoons on the landing board, and some detritus at the top entrance:
The bees are bringing in pollen, but there are quite a few wasps around, as seen in the right hand photo. I took the lid off and they are gradually propolising around the cocoons:
They weren’t best pleased at my investigations so the lid went back on pretty quickly, but they are definitely alive.
The other hive seemed much quieter and they too have a moth problem, as seen by the number of moth bodies on the inspection board. They have propolised the top entrance so I closed it up.
They seem to be gradually building up their stores.
As I was checking the inspection boards, I noticed a rather magnificent spider had made her web between the hive and the spare boxes: a wasp spider!
Unfortunately I couldn’t really get to photograph her abdomen as it would have meant disturbing her web – which was already looking a bit the worse for wear. They are a relatively new species to the UK, moving their way up naturally from the Mediterranean. They love unimproved scrappy grassland as they eat mainly grasshoppers, and have a special adaptation to their web called a stabilimentum which scientists think may help them catch those jumpy critters effectively. It’s great to see, and proof that not strimming, not cutting back grass, not tidying up is a great way to encourage new species to take up residence. She will hopefully mate and lay an egg sac which will then remain dormant until next year when the spiderlings will hatch out.
Seeing this spider shows what a difference promoting biodiversity rather than honey production can do for an apiary.
I took a walk around the site, and saw that a nest has been built in the Swift box, though not by a Swift it has to be said as they don’t use any bedding material so this is presumably a Robin or perhaps a Goldfinch; l saw and heard a few among the hedgerows and are no doubt thoroughly enjoying the thistles and teasels. The hawthorn berries are starting to ripen, and the fleabane is providing some late summer nectar for the bees.