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20 day old colony in HTBH - Inspection technique advice

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House Bee

Joined: 05 May 2019
Posts: 10
Location: Wisconsin, USA

PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2019 12:41 am    Post subject: 20 day old colony in HTBH - Inspection technique advice Reply with quote

Hi All, I have a twenty day old colony and after today's inspection I am pleased with their efforts. I have comb on ten bars, about six of the bars are 70% built out. Those bars have nectar and pollen stores up top, uncapped brood and capped brood in what I think are good proportions across the lower portion of the combs. I don't have good eyesight to see eggs, especially through a veil, but, I do see larvae in some cells and workers actively diving in open brood cells. The queen looks healthy (yay, I found her!). Considering our temps have just begun to climb above 15c / 60F in the last two weeks I feel they are doing well.

My Question... I'm a little apprehensive about having the hive open for extended periods, so, I have resorted to taking a quick look at each side of the bars and taking a photo of one side of each. I then close it up and get them back to their warm environment. This gives me a good record to load on my computer and take a good long look later. Is this a good method to continue?

As I was closely looking over the photos I thought that instead of the method for mite counts that I was taught I could just calculate the mite population by scanning the photos carefully for mites (among other things) and then calculating mite population (compensating for the fact I only have photos of one side of the comb). Once I have a baseline count, like today's, then I can monitor every few weeks for any increase.

The only thought I have is... my mite count baseline is a big goose egg (zero). Is this realistic? I don't have a single mite? I'm not complaining, just wondering if my technique is flawed. I know what a mite looks like. I know they should be visible on bees. I know I am not going to see any in cells. I understand that some could be on the bee's belly. But, what the cr@p*?

I would post a pic so someone in the biobees world could verify my findings, however, the forum doesn't allow me to post (yet). I don't know how long they keep rookies from posting.
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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1808
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2019 1:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Tim

Pleased your young colony are doing well. Taking photos of both sides of each bar would be better still. If you build a comb stand you can just remove the bar, put it on the stand, a quick photo of each side and put it back. That said if you close the bars up tight behind you all the way, the rest of the colony will settle down to normal everyday life as soon as you have inspected each comb, so the only disruption is to the comb you are handling and the facing combs on each side of it, which is much better than a vertical hive where taking the crown board off exposes the whole colony for the whole period of the inspection.
As regards Varroa mites, your colony is too young to have any real issues yet and personally I don't see mites on any of my bees these days even old established colonies that I haven't treated for years. I do however allow them to express natural behaviour including unrestricted swarming which helps to keep varroa under control. I am not saying that your bees (and my bees) will not have varroa but the levels will be very, very low and not worth worrying about at this stage but important to keep in the back of your mind and monitor visually during an inspection. It will be pretty obvious if/when you have a problem with Varroa and need to treat.
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House Bee

Joined: 05 May 2019
Posts: 10
Location: Wisconsin, USA

PostPosted: Sat May 18, 2019 2:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Barbara... I do have a hive stand (homemade) and it does make solo inspecting much easier when it comes to photos. Trying to figure out a way to keep track of combs/sides in my photos. I guess if I just upload the photos right away I should be able to label the photos according to bar location.

When you say "unrestricted swarming" do you attempt to capture those swarms at some point? How do you do that, provide nearby swarm traps?

A pic of my inspection stand. Yup, I could have just spun the comb around and taken a pic. Just didn't think. I'm learning...
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