Fight! Fight! Fight!
During the morning, I went to Newbattle apiary where we were using formic acid to treat one of the bee colonies for varroa. Since there is a lot of evidence of viral diseases in this hive we wanted to do something fairly drastic. It is important that there a lot of young bees ready to over-winter, otherwise the colony won't make it; the older bees simply don't have a sufficient life span to take the colony through to the spring and there won't be many young bees produced over the winter months. Formic acid, although occurring naturally in honey, is a nasty chemical; its smell is overpoweringly offensive, it delaminates some plastic hive parts, rots through iron nails and sends the bees scurrying for cover. A strong colony will cope, a weak on will succumb. As someone who is on some fairly powerful medication, the bees have my sympathy, theirs is far worse than mine, but then it should keep them alive.
Having done the deed, we sat back to watch that they weren't too upset and, fortunately, they seemed o.k. While we waited several wasps appeared wanting to steal honey, the bees weren't having any of it; the blip is of one wasp, just visible underneath the bottom left hand bee, with five other bees joining in. The wasp didn't stand a chance.
In the afternoon my good friend, Janes11, came round to help me with my own bees, the extra is of an opened queen cell in the nucleus hive in the garden. Unless the young queen that emerged from this within the last is mated within six weeks, she will never mate and will not lay anything other than drone eggs; she'll be of no use to the colony. What happened to the old queen? She was, almost certainly killed as a result of the formic acid treatment. The better news is that the full colony which I thought had lost its queen is flourishing, so I have potentially lost one colony out of four, and that one was probably doomed before I was given it.
I have just posted, "Salters' Road" from April the 30th.