For beginning beekeepers, opening the hive for an inspection always leads to a surprise. Yesterday was no different. This was our first over-winter inspection. We’re fortunate to be an a position to have living bees. But when we opened the hive, I didn’t expect to find mold growing on about half of the comb.
Our first reaction was to remove the comb, which is what we did. But after reading more about it online, I realize this is a natural part of what happens over winter when the bees ball together and only tend to part of the hive. I took great comfort in a quote I found on HoneyBeeSuite: “Excessive mold is the result of colony death, not the cause of it.” In other words, bees don’t typically die because of mold, mold grows because bees have died. Our numbers were down greatly last fall and over the winter. There simply weren’t enough bees in the hive to keep these extra comb clean – not when they were worried about staying warm.
I took the advice of several others online and left the comb out of the hive to dry out. We’ll put it back in later this week and let the bees clean it up.
There is good news to report from the first inspection. There is lots of brood comb and even some fresh honey. Also, I spotted the queen and she is doing fine. I can’t say the bees were exactly glad to see us. My wife and I both got stung. They were fairly aggressive. After a long winter and after months of seclusion, they were reluctant to share their space with us.
I only spotted a few small hive beetles. I attempted my Scotch-Brite Beetle trap idea, but I couldn’t quite figure out a good place to put it. I’m going to get back in their this weekend, add a few empty bars, and place the cloth beneath those empty bars. I did refill my beetle trap with a mixture of vegetable oil and diatomaceous earth. I also sprinkled diatomaceous earth on the gravel beneath the bee hive and then sprayed it with water so it would go to the soil and hopefully break up the breeding cycle of the beetles.