This is a long post summarizing recent events possibly of interest. For the reader not up to a read just skip this post. Maybe this would be of interest to some as it seems others are experiencing similar things. Maybe some will enjoy pointing out my mistakes so others can learn from them.
Mid August all was quite well. The hives were working the small flow and hanging in through a very wet period. I took a strong honey crop in July and the bees have been very strong all through the summer.
By late August I noticed one of the strong hives had a much reduced number of porch bees hanging out by the entrance. Bees had been congregating at the entrance all through the summer, often by the hundreds. These bees were always looking like they were cleaning, but I believe they were actually slackers doing nothing really other than trying to look busy. But now there were less than a dozen out on the porch. The strong hive next to this one still has plenty of porch bees. Hmm
Then the next day I saw a few feeble bees getting kicked out of the hive, so I am suspecting something is not well within the hive. A sticky board confirmed the mite count was very high. This is a second year hive I had that I had not split earlier, which apparently was a mistake.
I decided to break the mite cycle by isolating the queen and open brood in a new hive for 10-14 days. This would let all the brood loaded with mites hatch out in the old hive, but not provide a place for the mites to lay eggs thereby reducing the mite population. I loaded the new hive with 90 percent of the open brood from the parent hive and shook a bunch of bees into it. I never did see the queen, but knew she was probably on the frames with the eggs. The parent hive started building queen cells telling me that the queen was no longer in the parent hive.
Unfortunately most of the bees returned to the parent hive, leaving a a couple of frames of bees clustered at one end of the hive and plenty of room for the small hive beetles to have a population explosion. I pulled the now vacant frames and froze them to kill off the SHB.
Ok, this is not looking so good. I decided to treat the parent hive with Api-Life, which did knock the mite count way down in just the first treatment. The day before I was plannig to recombine the now little daughter hive got robbed out. By the time I got there nothing was left but empty comb and a few dead bees in the bottom. Now this is looking very not good.
The parent hive has 6 queen cells, but no drones or drone brood. I am considering letting these hatch and see if a mated queen results...but it is very late for that. I did not find any drones in any of my hives, so drones would have to come from some other hives! I do however have a NUC ready to go as soon as I am ready. But it would be even better to get a fall mated queen...if that is possible.
The golden rod and aster flow is full on. The parent hive and others nearby are very active.