It all started with an e-mail informing me that a visit was to take place (they come regardless unfortunately they can gain access if required) with a time and a request for my assistance if possible. Since I was not at work I decided to stay around and try to limit the damage.
This was the Friday so I decided on Sunday to have a look myself and cut all the bracing comb to make it easier to inspect on the Monday. So off we go (Jonathan really wanted to help) and have a really good look thru all the hives.
|Jonathan showing his bee keeping talents|
|Even Mummy gets to have a go|
|Practice Queen cell (it better bee)|
Nothing to bad apart from the fact that all the hives had zero and I mean zero stores (honey) also the boys bees have started producing drone brood and are practising making queen cells (they better not be getting any idea's).
So the Monday morning arrived, thankfully quite warm as it was a 10am appointment. They (trainee in tow) arrived on time and we got straight down to the bee's. I explained that they were top bar hives before we got down there and asked them not to use smoke as they had already lit the smoker. They had no problem with that and said they would only use smoke if necessary.
Once down we went straight into the hives (I had already removed the roofs) and I have to say got a pleasant surprise, the combs where handled gently the bee's moved out of the way with a finger if a bar needed to be tipped it was supported. The only time smoke was used was to get the bars together and a very small amount at that.
So what did they find, basically three hives in good condition but all of them needing stores with the two smallest one's in desperate need, so much so the queen has stopped laying (no new eggs). What they didn't find (thankfully) was European Fool Brood (EFB) which is why the inspection took place.
EFB is not nice, but is not the end of world and has a fair chance of clearance with a few easy steps. For more information go to https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/index.cfm?pageid=89 .
So first and hopefully only inspection over they were keen to get off, but I did manage to find out why he handled the combs so well. It appears he does a lot of teaching for the 'Bee's for life' project so is not totally top bar ignorant and is also interested to see how the hives over winter.
You never know I might even invite him back next time.
And yes I have fed them.