I'll plan on taking just a minute to bring everyone up to speed on the queens I installed in the hives last spring.
You may remember they were "ankle biter" bees bred to seek out and bite the legs off the Varroa mites. Those mites are responsible for most of the health issues facing honey bees today.
Last week I did a mite count and found that 2 of my hives had mite counts of 5 per 300 bees (1/2 cup.) That is considered low. That count means I do not have to treat those hives with chemicals or take any action. The other hive had a mite count of 9 per 300 bees. That is the point most beekeepers think about treating the hive.
Rather then treat that hive with chemicals, I'm going to create a break in the brood cycle. The mites reproduce in the capped brood cells. Take away the capped cells and the Varroa can't reproduce. I will capture the queen and store her in a "queen catcher". She will remain in the hive and the bees will be able to move in and out of the "queen catcher" to feed her and spread her pheromone. That access will stop the bees from starting a new queen. In 21 days, I'll release her, the mite count will have gone down and hopefully the queen will resume laying brood.
If I can get in the hive tomorrow there should be just enough time for new brood to hatch after the break before the queen slows down her laying for the winter. There is a concern that the break in brood will weaken the hive before the cold but after considering that, I'm going ahead with the plan. This is my strongest hive and if necessary, I can move some bees from my other hive to strengthen it.
Overall, I'm very happy with the "ankle biter" queens. Once they got established they each have great laying patterns and make for strong hives. With so many ways for beekeepers to spend their money, this was a good purchase. Take care, Lisa