I took this sunny and warm afternoon to pull the last honey super from the hive and start readying the colony for winter. On inspection, I saw things that made me feel comfortable about prepping hem, and a few things that were disturbing.
My queen was in the upper brood box and I found her easily. There were a few frames of capped brood, but it didn't seem like she was looking to lay eggs as she walked about the frame. I didn't see eggs on the frames I checked. There was some comb filled wih honey along the edges and sides of the box. All in all, there was plenty of activity and the colony looked well populated. One thing I noticed was a number of workers (maybe a dozen) with withered wings, which I understand can be a sign of varroa. I did see a couple mites moving about loose on the frames. So there has been some damage from the infestation I knew I had.
In the lower brood box there was no brood, only black comb with some nectar and uncapped honey. Still plenty of workers there doing what they do. I saw none of the workers with withered wings. As I switched out the screened bottom board for a solid one, I spied a hive beetle walking across the pallet. This was the first indication I had beetles, and I hadn't considered what to do about them before. I still don't know what I should -- or can -- do about them this late in the season.
Reversing the hive bodies seemed the best way to get all that free comb filled with winter stores. I also put Apistrips in both boxes and menthol in between them. The 2:1 syrup I started feeding them has Fumidil, and I finished by sprinkling Terra-pro around he inner cover hole. Next time into the hive will be to remove the strips and menthol bag.
As I checked the colony after dark, I saw several larva pulled out onto the landing pad, along with some dead varroa (!) and a few other dead bees. The syrup was disappearing, and the earwigs were dragging carcasses away.
It was good to see the queen is still there, and I hope the lack of eggs is just a normal scale-back at this time of year. I hope, too, that the medications can take care of the mite problems, and that the hive takes as much syrup as I feed them to get more stores put away. I naturally worry about them.
Probably not until next spring will I know whether this year was successful or not!