I need some advice on something that I haven’t encountered yet.
I setup a friend of mine with a nuc in June. This was split from one of my best hives, good laying queen and very good temperament. Usually I don’t have to even smoke the donor hive they are so good.
My friend was concerned about seeing so many hive beetles recently around the hive so he wanted me to help with the inspection. He had opened the hive up 2 weeks ago to place some beetle traps (with veggie oil) in the top super. He said the temperament of the bees was normal at this time. We were also going to be putting in a screened bottom board with a tray so we could also do a mite count in addition to additional beetle control with veggie oil. The hive did have a SBB without the tray bottom.
We opened the hive up yesterday after applying light smoke at the entrance and after lifting up the top cover, we were immediately “attacked”. I mean angry. I was shocked since this was not their style before and I knew something must be wrong (especially after 4 stings within 1 minute). Not wearing a veil, I went to my car and got it. Again lifting the top cover, the attack began again. So after about 6 more stings, off to the car again to get my jacket and gloves. Lifting the top and applying alittle more smoke, the bees didn’t even retreat into the hive, they just stood their ground. We lifted off the honey super to begin the inspection. Although we did encounter many beetles on the inner cover, none were actually seen on the top and around any of the frames in the deep before I begin the inspection, like the didn’t even exist below the inner cover. I was prepared to see slime and such seeing how angry the bees were but that was not the case.
Pulling the frames out, I started to see a shotgun pattern on the brood frames. Saw some larvae uncapped but could not see any signs of fresh eggs anywhere. Just capped brood and some uncapped larvae. In some of the uncapped cells, I saw what appeared to be nectar storage (fluid) which is a first. Inspecting more of the frames, I saw the same shotgun pattern, uncapped larvae and the nectar storage in some of the empty cells within the broad pattern.
My conclusion seemed to indicate that we had no queen since no fresh eggs were seen and the bees aggression. Also Varroa could be in play since this is the time of year but we couldn’t do a mite count at the present.
A queen supplier my friend contacted said it was Varroa and not the queen.
If you had a good queen, could infestation cause the shotgun pattern by itself? We didn’t spot the queen but then again we were under attack so I didn’t spend much time looking for her.
1) Bad Queen?
2) Varroa too high
3) Bad Queen and Varroa?
We are going to treat for Varroa anyway but I wanted to post this to the group to see what the more experienced has to say. Although I have been in this for 5 years, this is the first time I have encountered this type aggression and bad laying patterns. I’ve not experienced this with any of my hives (guess I have been lucky).
What say you?