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Varroa started appearing on the drop trays early in the summer so monitoring was started. Hive 1 was given three of the new slim beegyms, hive 2 had three of the old design beegyms and hive 3 was left to drop naturally as a control. Counts have continued to be taken every Wednesday. The two hives with beegyms have continually had a higher varroa drop than the control hive.

Slim Gyms in hive 1

Every hive attempted to swarm this year in spite of the fact that all the queens were 2019. This was probably because of the extremely hot weeks in May. Yet again, queen loss on mating flights was a major handicap and this year it was at least six virgin queens that failed to return.

When I have been doing hive inspections it has always been my policy that you don’t have to individually inspect the supers. Simply feeling their weight is sufficient indication. This year I was caught out. Hive three was artificially swarmed and no brood appeared as the queen had been lost on her mating flight. The colony drew out several emergency queen cells and I allowed the best to grow through to fruition. After this hatched I once again failed to get any brood appearing and test frames failed to produce a positive result. There was no queen cluster beneath the open mesh floor and yet the colony appeared quite contented with no brood. It wasn’t until I started removing supers for extraction that I found why. The new queen, in her wisdom, had, on returning from her mating flight gone straight through the queen excluder and set up home in the first super. That will be 9 shallow frames which they will be loathe to use for storing honey in future.

All the extraction has been completed and although it is nowhere near as much as last year it is not as bad as I had feared. One interesting batch this year had an extremely high pollen content. I ran off a jar straight from the extractor and you could actually see the pollen settling out.

Batch 5/20 settling out

Decisions now have to made as to which colonies to keep and which which colonies to unite. One has already made its decision. The small cast which found its way into the apiary and tookup home on the end of the Dartington has built up well but they have scored zero for behaviour on the last two visits. Two consecutive visits and that's their lot.