Thursday, October 7, 2010

Follow-up to Wax Moths

We decided to open the hives again, thinking there must be a mass on the bottom screen and it should be cleaned out before winter.  We opened up hive #2, first setting the top feeder down to the side.  There were TONS of bees in the hive, though many were out foraging.  Several were not real happy about today's intrusion, either, and kept buzzing rather insistently in my face.  No stings, though--whoops, except for Kathy, who had her pant legs secured with rubber bands but wore short socks and took one on the ankle--ouch!
Surprisingly, the bottom screen was completely clean and no other sign of wax worms.  The odor must be coming from either some honey that has begun to ferment or the odor of the pollen currently being brought in.
Another mistake was setting the top feeder aside uncovered, and Kathy diligently scooped out several dozen "swimmers" before we could re-assemble.  With all the bees all over the hive bodies, we hoped the queen was not crushed.  When I checked this evening, the bees were quietly going about their business, still bringing in plenty of orange pollen.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wax Moths

We opened the hives today to check on winter supplies, put a new top hive feeder on hive #2 and do the fall treatment for AFB.  We both noticed an odor coming from the hives, and decided we needed to investigate a bit.
Kathy took out the removable tray from the back of each bottom feeder.  Wax moths and larva were definitely present.  She scraped out all webbing and junk she could, actually using the brush we use below the refrigerator to clean the coils.  It worked well.
 You can clearly see the wax moth trails on here.  Since we use a screened bottom board, with this slide-out tray, a lot of junk collects down here--pollen, dead bee parts, bits of wax, etc.
 Here you can see one of the larva from the wax moths.  They are quite large, and you can imagine the damage they can do within the hive.   Our concern was they might be in the upper chamber, where some of the frames are not drawn out fully or, if they are drawn out, are not filled with honey.  These would be susceptible to wax worm attack.
 We went in and did a bit of research.  Since both hives are quite strong, it seems unlikely that the wax worms threaten to invade much of the hive.  My feeling is they are only down on this bottom tray, along with the ants and a few cockroaches, feasting on the droppings.  We did not perform a thorough hive search, though there was no evidence of anything in the top of 3 hive bodies that make up our hives.  We decided we will do a regular cleaning of the bottom tray and monitor the situation. Hopefully this will eliminate the bad odor.
 I did mix up a batch of antibiotic with powdered sugar and sprinkled that on each hive to treat for AFB.
 
 We purchased a polystyrene top feeder.  Looking at message boards about them, I decided to add some screen mesh to the end so the bees would have something to climb on and hopefully reduce drowning.
This variety uses a plexiglass cover at the end to limit the bee exposure to the liquid.  I only put an inch or so in the bottom and will see how that goes.  We were quite happy with the honey they have now stored in hive #2 and feel good about winter survival.  I will feed the next several weeks, though, just in case.  The super in hive #1 is also being drawn out and a couple frames are getting filled with honey.  We will feed this back to them in a couple weeks then remove that super.
If anyone feels we need to be more aggressive about the moths, please let us know. Otherwise, loving the 70 degree October days and good, orange pollen coming in heavily to each hive as the bees are very active during the warm afternoons.