Sunday, July 30, 2006

Stupidity Meets Varroa, Part 2 of 2 (finally)

Jeez these weeks have been busy. Just for fun, try running 4 squads of 8 rats in operant chambers for about 8 1/2 hours a day, while afterwards attempting to maintain enough mental clarity to do anything more than have a semi-coherent conversation after your drive home. It doesn't work out. At least for me, in this stage of my graduate school career.

Anyway, we had a story to finish, right?

Well, there wasn't anything earth-shattering that needed to be revealed in Part 1 of this post - but we did find varroa on quite a few of our Russian drones. Further exploration into capped drone cells revealed that yes indeed the little monsters had infiltrated the hive and had set themselves up nicely inside these cells, all the while happily draining the hemolymph from our girls. It is ironic that Rob earlier posted a nice little blurb on the scourge of varroa, as it has now made its way into our backyard, as well.

Varroa are parasites that very few beeks have not experienced firsthand. If you keep honey bees, sooner or later you're going to run into the little devils, and for a small colony or a hive that is reduced in numbers (such as in winter), the parasites can prove to overpower the girls. Luckily, we've got no population problems right now - far from it! So, we'll medicate our babies in the fall after we're done with the honey collection, and give them a helping hand in fighting these pests over the winter months. Generally speaking, if you've got one hive that has varroa, its usually a safe bet that the one next to it will have it also. Interestingly, however, we haven't spotted any on bees in either of the Carniolan hives (as of yet - knock on wood). Could these little suckers have hitched a ride in the nuc, and been in the frames all along? Who knows. Who cares? They're here now, and we'll take measures to circumvent the demise of our hives.

Now, the "stupidity" part of the last post, for those among you that are curious, just involves the fact that for "light" inspections, I prefer to wear only a clumsy gloves or hot cotton to weigh me down and make me sweat. I find that when I go gloveless, I concentrate more, am more careful, and become very focused and sensitive to the demeanor of the bees. Well, I wasn't expecting to go into the brood chambers that day, but we did anyway. Bees can be very defensive about this area, and are less mellow than when they are feasting on honey. In any event, its not a place that I feel comfortable going gloveless, but I did anyway like a moron. And so, predictably, I suffered a few stings, whereas Rob, the smarter of the two of us, when in with full regalia. The end. Great story huh?


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