No matter that Shard Hive was put to bed last year with a feed of thymolated sugar syrup and was given a tonic dose of Vitagold in a Spring feed (which was virtually untouched) earlier this year, it has finally succumbed to nosema. The parapet around the hive is sprinkled with healthy-looking, but comatose “zombie” bees, the cupful of bees inside Shard has dwindled to a skeleton crew – and Ruby, Queen of Shard Hive, was wandering alone in poor condition inside a much depleted hive. Drat and double drat!
I guess that, this year, anything which started out wonky in the hives has proved to be really hard to set right. I made the mistake of hoping that, come the sunshine and some big nectar flows, a touch of nosema would be busily swept away – and that substituting a drone-laying 2012 Queen with a nubile, red-dotted youngster would restore Shard to its former glories. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
So I have cut my losses, closed up the Shard breeding nuc (to prevent robbing of its food stores by other bees, who would then acquire the parasitic nosema fungus and take it back to their own hive) and I have “banked” Queen Ruby in a Butler Cage in Abbey Hive, ahead of starting a big manipulation on that hive this weekend.
I will be getting out my microscope to check my diagnosis of nosema (looking out for those Arborio-rice-like spores in the image above), but I’m pretty sure that the brown streaks on the landing board and the listless bees tell me all that I need to know. It’s the same diagnosis as the first inspection of the year in late April…
Well, the weather forecast is getting summery from here on, but it’s too late for Shard Hive. Call me obtuse, but I’m chalking this up as a “winter loss” even though June starts tomorrow !