The experiment now is to keep hive one free of mites (without using chemical treatments) for as long as possible.
Hive one is now going into it's second summer with it's queen in her third year.
Click here to go back to the beginning of the experiment.
2017 Step by step. Scroll down to see all of the video links at the bottom of the page.
The winter 2016/2017 has not been especially hard. We have had some cold nights with hard frosts and a couple of gales with some very strong winds but generally it has been fairly dry. And we have had some spells of fine weather, giving the bees a chance every now and again to get out of the hive. The 9th of March was a warm day with temperatures in the low teens at one point.
9th March. - Bees flying - see video
So much for my homemade floor that is now looking worse for wear after just two winters. Mousegard removed.
15th March. First inspection (nineteen days earlier than last year) Perfect day for it. Eggs and brood in all stages on just two frames. Plenty of stores (eight frames) still in the brood box - see video I changed the floor - and it needed changing too as it was becominng a sodden mess. Queen not seen. I also inspected the daughter bred last year from this colony. She was laying well with four frames brood although her stores are run down and the colony needs a liquid feed now.
8th April Second inspection - brood increasing well. Not making honey yet. Queen seen marked yellow. Frame of drone brood put in. Four frames of stores still in brood box.- see video.
19 April. Third inspection 2017 - Eggs and brood present. The weather in the last ten days since my last inspection has been dominated by cold wind from the North East and although we have had some bright sunny days we haven't had warm balmy days. There wasn't much change to see in the brood box except for the frame of drone brood foundation I put in on my last inspection. That has now been laid with eggs but on different days so there is lava at several different stages of development. I couldn't see any bees with deformed wings. There were a couple of queen cups. See video
29th April. Fourth inspection (See Video) The frame of drone brood that I put in on the 8th of April was due to be removed. The weather in the last ten days has been useless for the bees with bitter cold winds and freezing nights. Today was a lot better although not perfect. But the results of the uncapping of the drone brood removed was very encouraging - see video - as only three mites were found in about 40-50% of the brood uncapped.
10th May. Inspection number 5. It has been ten days since my last inpection and ten pretty cold and miserable days most of the time. However, the wind dropped today and the clouds were gone giving us a long sunny day. The wired frame I put in on my last visit has now been filled and laid up. Otherwise there wasn't much change in the brood box, it was much the same as on my last visit, with just a couple of play cups here and there and no real sign of swarming. See video
18th May. Inspection number 6. The weather in the last eight days has been much better and we have had several good honey making days. However, it has been cooler in the last two days and we have had quite a lot of rain. This inspection was not done at the best time of day or on the best of days but there were no signs that the bees were preparing to swarm. The bees were not happy be be disturbed and they let me know it but I did remove the 'new' frame of now capped brood and put in a frame of foundation. The intention is to remove this frame in seven ot eight days time when it has been laid full with eggs as it's time to breed a replacement queen. See video
25th May. Inspection number 7. The weather has been hot and sunny in the last eight days and the bees have been making honey. I removed the blank frame of foundation that I put in the middle of the brood box on my last inspection. The bees have drawn out the wax and completely laid it up with eggs. The intention now is to use the eggs to breed more queens. There were still queen cups but none with eggs in so it didn't look like a colony about to swarm. See video
31st May. Inspection number 8 Just six days after my last inspection. Six days is really a little early after the last to do the next inspection. However, I had to be in that apiary and may not be able to get there again for quite a few days. All was OK. There were the usual empty queen cups that I knocked down. There were eggs and brood. The bees had made some honey that I didn't take off. - see video
8th June. Inspection number 9 eight days after my last inspection. The colony was much the same as last week with some stored honey in the supers and queen cups in the brood box. However, I did on this occasion see the queen. She is still marked (yellow) although most of the marking has worn off. Depending on the weather in the next few days I think I should be prepared to put another super on during my next visit. - see video
14th June. Inspection 10. Seven days after my last inspection. Queen seen. Empty queen cups removed. Some honey in the super frames - bees making honey (white clover and bramble in flower). A third super with new wax checkerboaded with enpty frames added. - see video
24th June. Inspection 11. It has been ten days since my last inspection and some of those days have been very hot indeed so I don't regret putting on the new super last time. However, the bees havn't touched any of it. Not even one frame has been drawn out in any way at all. Queen seen. Empty queen cups. - see video
4th July. Inspection 12. Queen seen. There were no signs that the bees were keen to swarm. No eggs in queen cups. The super of new frames hadn't been touched and I removed it. See video
16th July. Inspection 13. Bees a bit tetchy. Eggs in queen cups. Frame with two queen cups together in the middle of the frame removed to nuc box. Frame with the queen removed to the nuc box. One more frame removed to the nuc box. Nuc box removed from the apiary. (The nuc box was moved into a garden in Norwich and the bees replaced the queen with new queen. After a while I moved the box back to the out apiary where they came from and transferred the frames and bees into a polynuc where they will stay for the winter.)
18th July. Inspection 14. Queen cells made. Action: One of the two supers was put on the hive floor after the brood box had been removed. A sheet of newspaper was put on the top of the super. All the frames from the brood box were removed and the brood box put on top of the newspaper. Frames from a nuc box containing a laying queen (daughter of the queen bred earlier in the year) were put into the brood box. The frames with queen cells on have gone to other colonies and nucs. Therefore the brood was almost completely elliminated - but not totally, as the nuc with the new queen had a couple frames of brood that were put into the brood box. The other frames put into the box were drawn out but without brood or stores. Small rapid feeder put on. If you are having trouble sleeping you can watch this Video
27th July. Inspection 15. A quick look, just to make sure that the new queen has been accepted and is laying. OK she has been accepted, although I didn't see her, there were eggs. There was brood on the frames from the nuc and some new wax with eggs in (the new wax is probably thanks to the feed). This colony should be OK for some time to come and will not need regular inspections again until the spring 2018. Although I will take a look sometime early in September to see if they need some more feed. See video
23rd August. Inspection 16 It was a warm day and some time since my last inspection and although I had left the bees honey I have inspected colonies recently that I have found to be very short on stores. However I needn't have worried on that account and the bees were happily bringing in ivy nectar. I saw the queen (still unmarked) and re-organised the brood box leaving them with a small rapid feeder of syrup as there are still a couple frames to draw out. See video
16th October. Final inspection of the year. Today was an unusually warm day for this time of the year and that made for an easy inspection. The colony is OK with eggs and brood and plenty of stores. However, I added a brood box with yet more stores. The box came from Ringland and had become redundant there as the queen had turned drone layer and the bees been moved to join another colony. As it has no bees and no brood it should also have no Varroa but it does have plenty of stores. I also added an empty super that I may keep over the crown board through the winter. See video
22nd December. Dead bees at the front of the hive. See video