I'm sad to say that all is not well in Sunset's apiary.
Kimberley emailed me this photo, saying, "BOO! (okay, I know it’s not Halloween, but this image scared me, and I’m the one who took it! Close up of our sticky board after threeweeks-with formic acid in the hive. YUCK!)"
Yes, those are varroa mites from Hive Veronica. Hundreds of them. We didn't bother to count. Anyone that had eyes could see we'd slaughtered an army of the little nasties.
This year we decided to forgo the Apiguard, and only treat with the formic acid when we needed to. And we've neglected the sugar dusting. We have felt like we've over treated the bees, and were taking a wait and see attitude.
But after a 24-hour mite count at Thanksgiving revealed multiple mites, and we'd started noticing some bees with deformed wings, we decided the time was right for the formic acid. And if we killed that many mites in three weeks, we've no doubt made a dent in their population. We'll do a 24-hour mite count this week to see how the mites are faring.
At least Veronica still has bees in the hive. We're not sure about Califia, in the top bar hive. We can't see bees through the observation window. But there are bees coming and going, some with pollen. And when we opened her to briefly inspect, we found bees working on empty comb near the brood nest. We're not sure; are they robbing the hive? Or could Califia still be alive in there, just biding her time before starting to lay eggs?
We'll know for sure as soon as we get a warm day and can go into the hive.