Winter Prep Part 2

On August 3, I put a treatment of mite away quick strips (MAQS) into Cheese Palace as a treatment for the high mite count I found from the sugar roll test I conducted earlier in the week.  I debated if I should treat or let the bees fend on their own with a little help from me with less harsh meassures, but eventually did decide to treat with MAQS.  The formic acid is used as a quick 7 day treatment that is hard on the bees but deadly to the mites, and since this hive had built more wax, produced more honey, and made more brood that any of the others I decided it was worth seeing if I could save it with a treatment from the mites that could spell its doom over the winter months.  I had some additional concerns because the temperatures all last week were supposed to be in the low 90s, the highest recomended temperature for treatment with MAQS as higher temps could make the evaporation of the formic acid too harsh for the bees.  It was that week or wait until nearly September, however, so I made the decission to go ahead with treating.

I was planning on taking some pictures today when I was at the hive, but I was under a bit of a rush having to do more to fix things that I was expecting and from the bees being quite ornery.  I wanted to get and out of Cheese Palace as quickly as possible to keep the bees agitation level down.  Their banana scented alarm phermenone quickly became thick in the air and I am always mindful of working unhappy bees with the hives so close to a public sidewalk and in a community garden.  

When I first opened the hive everything seemed normal.  The hive was not overly annoyed with me being there not was it making any of the noises or other indications of problems, particularly with queenlessness, that you sense from hives that may be in trouble.  The works tend to blame bad things in the hive on their queen, and since MAQS can be harsh it can either kill the queen directly or make the workers angry enough with her to kill her on their own.  I was hoping this did not happen to Queen Been Mary T the first.  I was discouraged by the lack of brood when I started goign through the deeps that make up the brood nest.  I found very little capped brood an no larva or eggs.  I only found one supersedure cell, however, which was a good sign.  Sometimes the bees just like to make them, perhaps a visual warning to their queen of their unhappiness with her rule and chemical signals.   

As I kept going through frames I was not finding any more reassuring signs, nor the queen herself.  The hive was getting more agitated, but I was hoping that perhaps the stress of the treatment had just supressed the queen's egg laying temporarily.  I decided to stop checking and instead take a frame of open brood with eggs and very young larva from Boatmurdered.  I like the genetics of Frederica I of Boatmurdered and her brood pattern has been amazing, so I took a frame from that hive and put it in Cheese Palace.  If Queen Bee Mary T the first is gone the bees can use freshly hatched larva from this frame to make new queens who then battle it out for control of Cheese Palace.  Hopefully the next inspection will provide more insight into just what happenend, depending on if I see eggs, larva, or several emergency supersedure cells.

I don't know if treating was the best answer, but I do believe it was the right one in this case.  I wanted to give this hive a better shot, and decided it was worth the risk.  Cheese Palace still has time to get set for winter, and considering how well it has done this year I think it will recover nicely.  Hopefully with Queen Bee Mary T still in charge.

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