I have been trying to get this posted, but stuff just keeps getting in the way.
I have been trying to get my bees ready for winter. It doesn't take much, but I believe it has a huge impact on next year. Part of getting them ready is assessing their health, numbers, food storage and location. I was shocked to find that half of my hives were really hungry. Shocked because they are located five miles apart and, when I look around, I don't see much difference in the food that is available.
This shows you what I know.
I started feeding them pollen patties and sugar syrup. They wasted zero time in consuming both. I also spent some time with my Full-timer moving my hives so that they were facing south. This was not as easy as I thought it would be, but we managed it. I have placed straw bales on the west and north sides of my hives, giving them a bit of a wind block for winter.
I had a couple of hives that seemed small. So, I decided to combine them. This is not unusual, but something that I have never done before. In keeping with standard practice, I try to learn everything by first learning what not to do.
This was no different.
When combining hives, you can only have one queen. This usually means killing the weaker queen. Luckily for me, I only had one queen between these hives. Then you have to place the boxes together, dividing them with a sheet of newspaper. The amount of time it takes them to eat through the newspaper should be long enough for them to accept each other. Of course, it helps if the wind isn't blowing your newspaper everywhere. It also helps if it is not dark or starting to rain. Due to the weather, I was a little more than rushed in getting these boxes together.
Then you wait.
One reason for combining hives is to help them defend their home. If you have too few bees, they can't manage the way they need to. One nasty culprit is the wax moth. The wax moth is very destructive to the hive, and wax is precious. It takes a bee more energy to build comb then it does to produce honey. It has to be protected. If they can't keep the moths out, they lay their little eggs in the comb. This is gross and disgusting. It is also what I found when I went back to check on these girls.
You see, in my haste, I simply combined all the boxes of both hives. My thought process was that I would go back after they had learned to play nice and remove the boxes that weren't needed.
This is what I found.
This looks bad, but it could get much worse.
I think I mentioned the gross thing.
Look at the destruction.
Then if you scrape off the top layer...
Check out the little larvae in the center.
He would have grown and grown...damaged more and more.
But - Not on my watch.
He's out of there.
So are his buddies.
I reduced the hive size, removed all the damaged frames, and hopefully they can recover.