I treated 3 colonies with MAQS this spring as I was concerned about varroa. That’s unusual but I guess the mild winter may have meant that some colonies kept brood in their hives all winter long. However all three are not as well-behaved afterwards as I might have expected. Was the smell of the MAQS something to do with it? I’ll have to wait and see, but the first observation with MAQS is that the bees scurry away from it pretty quickly – they don’t like it – and bee mortality is something that definitely happens. One hive had dieing bees crawling out and falling off the landing board a few hours after treatment. And there is increased risk of supercedure, so something must be happening in the hives to cause it. My assumption is that the queen pheromone or queen substance as it used to be called, is severely masked by the stench of the MAQS resulting in the colony maybe thinking the queen is getting past it hence the construction for supercedure queecells and the behaviour of the colonies which I can only describe as behaving as if they were queenless. I’ve taken out the dry strips; we’ll see if there’s any supercedure and see if the behaviour improves. Let’s hope so!
As predicted there are lots of reports of colonies having too much food in them this spring after a long and kind autumn in 2014. One judgement we have to make as beekeepers is whether to feed or how much to feed to ensure winter survival. I did start to feed and then stopped as the ivy honey flowed. In fact it was so good that I had to put supers on a couple of double brood-box hives to take away the excess.For those beekeepers who gave fondant ‘as a Christmas present’ or fed because they were unable to heft their hives to assess the levels of stores, their bees may have little space.
Now we’re in spring we need to consider what to do. Supers under my single brood boxes have been largely empty (one had brood in it, the others didn’t). Some double brood box hives have been reduced to one box with a few frames of set ivy honey removed. These can be used for nucs later in the summer. The hives that have been reduced to one brood box have their boxes and frames undergoing acetic (ethanonic) acid sterilisation for later re-use. Acetic acid kills wax moth larvae, EFB bacteria and Nosema spores too. So it’s very beneficial as long as you don’t get a lung-full. Some hives with 9 or 10 frames of brood have supers on already or they will be going on very soon. And a couple of Paynes polystyrene nucs that I modified to 8 frames per box are full to bursting with 7 and 6 frames of brood. Surely a desperate need for more space.