It’s mid-spring, and time to treat the growing colony for mites.
I hoped to do a more thorough inspection, but the bees had an alternate plan. They had built a bit of comb attaching a few of the frames between the top and bottom boxes, so while it felt ok when I was checking how the top bottom lifted off, when I went to pull it, two frames from the bottom box came out with it and fell to the ground, spilling bees everywhere and spoiling my intentions of getting some nice pictures too.
They were quite unhappy with this, and so I scooped up and replaced everything I could, and instead just did a quick check for signs of American foulbrood. The state apiary program reported that there’s been multiple cases of the disease in our county, so I wanted to look over mine. There’s no way to treat the disease, so if it was present I’d sadly have to dispose of the colony.
The disease is transmitted via spores, and the usual vector is a beekeeper using the same tools in an infected colony and a healthy one. That’s not an issue for my single colony (I really want two, hoping to split next year). It can also spread naturally through hive robbing though, and there’s a chance some of my foragers visited an infected hive and brought back the disease.
Luckily things seem all clear; obvious signs of AFB are things like dead and decomposing larvae still in the cells that look like slime, and a distinctive and awful smell that granted the disease that name.
So on my varroa treatment went. They’re just gel-containing strips that will release formic acid vapor, which varroa mites are susceptible to. Some bees will be lost as well, but nothing major and not as many as would die if the mites were left unchecked. The strips stay on for two weeks, enough time to expose a sufficient amount of the colony to the vapors.
Right now I have a medium super on top of the deep, and this is one of the medium frames in which brood cells are clear to observe on comb that’s being drawn out. I’m feeding them syrup in the hopes to get a population boom going, so that I can add a second proper deep box and convert this medium box into a honey super for harvest later this year. That means I’ll have to locate the queen and ensure she’s in the deeps, then put a queen excluder between the honey and deep boxes to keep the medium box free of brood. Hopefully next time I’ll have a less traumatic inspection and can spend some time to spot the queen.