All good

Well, firstly, this colony is the nicest and healthiest colony I've worked with. Things are going very well. They're still taking 300g of feed a day, the stores are building up by about one frame per week, the queen is still laying, there's lots of brood, and there's no sign of disease. We saw the queen, slender and with an unusually black abdomen.

The wild comb that we pressed onto one of the frames when Avril the inspector was hee has resulted in some amazing comb patterns. The lumps of comb have been reformed by the bees into almost tubular structures with holes in the comb between. They still fit within the space allocated for a frame, but are far weirder and wilder in shape than a regular flat comb. Each time we inspect we break less and less bridge comb, so maybe this is good.

There were larvae on the bottom board. Looking at photos of them online we're pretty sure they aren't wax moth larvae or earwig larvae. They were about 8mm long and a cream colour except for the head which was dark brown. We didn't see any evidence of parasites in the hive so hopefully these aren't something to be concerned about. Searching for 'moth larva' in an image search engine, they could very well be another kind of moth.

We continue to experiment with smoker fuels. Today we used smoker pellets made of compressed straw, lit with firelighters made of compressed cellulose. This didn't work well first time so Dan put some dried leaves on the top, and it belched smoke for hours and hours. The smoker dripped a dark brown liquid, which didn't impress Dan much, and along with the slightly odd smell coming from the smoke, we decided to go with smoker fuels we can find in nature next time.

Our hive body has about a dummy board's space left over, so up until now we've use two dummy boards. The bees don't really know whether to glue these together or go in between them, so we removed one, even if it gives a bit more of a gap in the hive than we'd like.

We left the bees a Bee Gym. This is a grooming aid with paddles, wires and other shapes that are supposed to help bees groom themselves to remove varroa mites. They use the features of this small plastic frame to dislodge the mites and other parasites from their body. To put it in place we removed two frames, moved the gap that they made into the middle of the hive, and dropped the Bee Gym down there. They're meant to be put in a busy part of the hive, for example just back from the entrance on the mesh floor. They can't have liked all this moving around of frames much but maybe it was worth it to help them groom. Next week we will give them their first dose of Apiguard as another method to combat Varroa, but looking at the bees and the bottom board we're fairly sure it's not a problem right now.

The feeder probably needs a clean, or we risk getting a mould problem and making the bees ill. I'll let them finish off the sugar we've left them and take the feeder away for a wash. Speaking of Apiguard, some people use thymol in their feeder to stop mould growth, but a wash in the sink will do the trick too. And then they'll be back to their impressive sugar consumption. In the last week we've had warm weather, though, and from the colour and sheer quantity of the stores in the hive, our guess is they're just as keen to get stores from foraging. Let's hope all this means there's enough in there for winter and that winter isn't too severe.

In general, though, another inspection where everything appears to be going well. Happy bees, happy beekeepers.