Now, a few days since my last post, a post about the horror of finding bee parts on the varroa tray; it is time to write part two. I am not sure if this is happening to others, but on yesterdays inspection, another hive, a stronger hive, bee parts and dead wasps were found on its varroa tray. I accept fully some bee parts will be found, after all, thirty thousand bees are bound to lose the odd leg or antennae, but heads are a different matter altogether, bee heads are not something your bees can lose and still carry on, suggesting “it is just a flesh wound, nothing serious, I can manage” is seriously not on the same page as the real world.
When I got to see the hive, it was as I had left it, with just the inch wide entrance, a more defendable arrangement. We noticed the sugar syrup was not touched, and I had anticipated the remaining bees would have slurped that sugar syrup like as though there was no tomorrow, but it was untouched. As the new larger feeders had arrived, we took out the old syrup and placed a larger feeder in the top box. Ian, the Apiary Manager suggested the queen excluder under the feeder may have stopped the bees getting to the feed, so we removed it. The feeder, not the Apiary Manager.
I had just made up a couple of gallons of sugar syrup, but it was still too hot, so we poured some into the feeder and then left the top off so it could cool. We patted ourselves nervously on our backs believing ‘we were doing ok’, and ‘it would sort itself out’. I do not want to lose that hive of bees; I am still taken to ‘somnum exterreri (Night Mares) over the first discovery of eaten, mangled bee corpses.
I watched the small hive entrance thoughtfully and, every few seconds a wasp would enter the hive, wasp after wasp. Some were coming out again, and I suspect they were carrying bee parts like teenagers squirreling away a fast food bun leaving the drive-through. My partner, a lady taken to be as empathetic to the bees as am I, watched the clear dome in the new top feeder. The warm sugar mass was radiating some heat into the early evening cooling air. “There’s one” she explained as a wasp appeared in the sugar dome of the feeder, “and another, now another, that’s three”, she said. Correcting herself, “No, four, wait we have five wasps dancing around the inner lip of the sugar feeder”. I looked to confirm her sighting. Wasps were piling up in the top of the feeder, writhing around as though they had nowhere else to go.
I sat and forlornly watched wasp after wasp slide into the small entrance hole, not even stopping to ask the waitress to take their order on the intercom. A small crowd now gathered watching the vile chaos. When Ian strode over he could not believe his eyes. Immediately he gave orders and as I stuffed big leaves into the entrance hole, so Jack found the duct tape and started to seal the hole to exclude any more wasps. Ian then told us we were going to move the hive and I suggested a new location some distance away and bending his knees, he lifted the hive, the hive stand and the precious cargo within and carried it over to a new place.
We buttoned down the hive and left it protected for the night. The bees could not escape and they will spend a couple of days in solitude. More importantly, the wasps would return to the old hive location, and not find an easy access hive there anymore. Now all we could do was to wait. The ride home was quiet contemplation; I have been quite shocked at what can happen to just a few bees when an intruder gets to have their way and the images of the day replayed over and over in my minds eye.