Thursday, April 30, 2009

No More Screen Bottoms

Having arrived in Sweden early on last Sunday morning, I checked to see if bees were flying later in the day. Of the two entrances, only one had bees flying. I went into the barn and opened up the one that didn't have flying bees to find a dead colony. There was a mouse nest and a huge mess of detritus all over the screen bottom. I thought by having the entrances through the walls of the barn that mice wouldn't be able to enter. Next winter prep I will fit mouse guards. I put the mess down to the mouse but decided to do a comprehensive check on the surviving hive at the first opportunity. I managed to do it yesterday and found almost as much mess in the surviving hive too. No sign of mice but the 6 month period of not being able to clean underneath and the fact that bees cannot clean the bottom themselves with a screened bottom has made me realize that I need to fit solid bottoms on my hives. I scraped half an inch thick gooey mess of horrible gunk off both the underside and top of the screen. The bees were fewer in number than when I left them in October and there was only one frame of sealed brood. I managed to correct some comb problems. There were a lot of attachments and I cut away some of the string that I had tied the comb onto the top bars. One comb that I was cutting side attachments was full of honey and fell off the top bar. I lifted this out and put in new top bars with starter strips. These bees had plenty of stores and were bringing in pollen. I believe these bees may not be as hygienic as my Spanish bees but I am now worried about the hives in Spain with screen bottoms will have similar problems when I return later in the year.
For a minimum disturbance management system that I am now employing, screened bottoms cause more problems than their worth in my opinion. Bees will keep a solid floor clean in my experience. I cleaned out the dead out hive today and removed the screen floor. I will fit a solid floor before next occupation.

1 comment:

  1. Glad to see You both made it alright. And that one of the two hives survived. I think your right in removing the screens and making bottom solid. Maybe you should start making bait hives real soon Norm. You might have the same problem there as in Spain. Good luck and I be back to read more.
    God Bless You and Yours.