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We’ve been concerned about one of our two hives.                                                                         There are bees walking on the ground, looking disoriented and dying; especially, in the late afternoon. Sorry sight.

Inside the hive looked healthy to us…excepting for the presence of some hive beetles.           We called upon our state bee inspector for Montgomery County, Austin Martin.

He, kindly, paid us a visit yesterday. In the slideshow, you can see the basic sequence of events. He went through both hives with us and did a varroa mite check or “sugar roll test.” You can, probably, tell from the pictures…Austin is very cool with the bees!

What did he discover? You will see that one of the slides shows a lousy close-up of two bees. One of the bees has deformed wing syndrome. This is a virus. Fortunately, this was the only bee that we saw showing symptoms. Austin wasn’t too concerned about it at this point. He thought the hive looked good. Nice healthy brood, good pattern. Mite count for this weaker hive was 3 and for the stronger hive, it was 2…below the threshold of 5 for recommending treatment for mites. You can see a few black dots in the slide of the baking pan. One of the dots is dirt; the rest are mites. We’ll continue our weekly powdered sugar routine to keep the mite population down. The weaker hive is not building much up in the super but the stronger hive is filling the super out nicely…getting heavy with honey.

What about those sorry bees crawling around? Austin thought they may have been poisoned by pesticides. Pesticides can harm bees directly. Pesticides can, also, be brought to the hive to affect the hive and/or the development of the brood. Another thought was that since the queen mates with multiple drones; a particular brood may have a genetic susceptibility to a virus or stress (such as a particular pesticide). They will die off; leaving others, with different genetic material, to function normally. It is still a question. In any case, consider, very carefully, your lawn and garden treatments. If you hire a lawn care company to do this for you, Do your research! The ecosystem is, beautifully, complex. Our actions ripple through it in ways we may not know. Pretty obvious…just a reminder.

So, we’ll keep watching. We’ll sugar them weekly. We’ll feed. We’ll put the rest of the frames in the super of the stronger hive. And, of course, we’ll shake our fists, jab our hive tools; and swear, heartily, at the hive beetles.

Thank you, Austin!

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  1. max berry says:

    I am reading a book entitled “THE LAST ALGONQUIN” by Theodore Kazimiroff. I suppose you know all that the Indians can teach about farming w/o pesticides but there may be some facts that have escaped you. I was particularly interested in the use of preying mantises and lady bugs in an early chapter.
    The book is available in the County library system.
    Max Berry( friend of the gentleman who gave you the yellow handled tool)

    • micvel says:

      Thank you, Max. Not using pesticides is the easy part. Growing food, successfully, without them is quite a bit more complex, Isn’t it?! There is much, much more that I wish to learn and understand. It’s helpful and inspiring when people, so generously, share their support and experience. I appreciate your visit and your feedback very much! I’ll be sure to put “The Last Algonquin” on reserve. Warm regards, Michaelann

  2. Pingback: Dancing with the bees | Elkins Park Front Yard Farm

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