BEES HAPPY

Beekeepers Gary and Teri, who can manage over a hundred beehives a season, checked on the hives in the orchard last weekend, with good news. Most of the bees were healthy and active. Gary and Teri will be back every two to three weeks now to check that each hive still has its queen and usual brood, and keep an eye on mites.

The creamy-white patch above is a preparation of essential oils added to curb the exponential spread of the Varroa destructor mite. Gary's commercial beekeeper friend is trying this particular method out, so it's worth a shot.

Gary and Teri use various mite controls, including freezing. They will add certain frames to the hive sized to encourage the queen to lay drones (males) rather than worker bees. Mites enter the brood cells and lay their eggs after the cell is capped. The eggs hatch with the bees and leave with them, feeding on adult bees. The mites seem to prefer nesting with the longer-lived drone broods, so Teri and Gary will extract the drone frames, freeze them to kill the mites (and the drones, but no need for all those males) and then return them to the hive, where nurse worker bees will clean up the dead and detritus and the cycle can begin again. A lot of work - and it certainly isn't their day job!

The farm honey bees - enjoy our honey later on this year

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