After it threw six swarms, I wondered if Bee Beard had anything left. Yes, there were bees but was there a laying queen? Then in the beginning of April, I started watching in horror as drones were being tossed out of the entrance. Drones with reddish colored eyes and ‘chewed up’ wings. I checked the bee literature and learned that I was looking at a good example of “Deformed Wing Virus,” thought to be caused by the dreaded varroa mite.
It started in the beginning of April and continued through the end of the month. Then came Drone Awareness Month. I thought for sure, this would be the end of the hive because I had a “laying worker.”
You can notice these bees because of their eyes. The tops of their eyes meet in the middle. Also drones are big. In the video you’ll notice how much bigger they are then the worker bees. I wasn’t worried about their size however, I was worried there was no queen. For this many drones in one place, it meant (to me) only one thing…a laying worker. If there’s no fertilized queen (possibly because of all the swarms) then sometimes a worker bee will start to lay. If you inspect the combs, you’ll see the eggs laid on the side of the cell or multiple eggs in an individual cell…the sign of a laying worker (or more than one) Workers are not fertile and can only lay drones. If they are only laying drones, the colony will die out, because drones don’t work. Since I didn’t want to open the hive and intervene, I was going have to sweat it out.
Bee Beard Log Hive is an experiment in what happens with no intervention. I don’t medicate, miticide, or treat the bees with anything. That includes essential oils and powdered sugar. I don’t take any honey. These bees came from a myrtlewood tree last June. They’ve never even been smoked. We grow many bee-loving flowers, but I know that bees also go elsewhere for foraging. Is it possible the Varroa mite and deformed wing virus are still around? Of course…but as long as the bees can adapt, that’s as much as anyone can want. I guess I’ll know more by next spring, but right now they look good.