Tuesday November 8th. If you check my Fall Chores entry back in Sept, I described putting 4 Apivar strips of miticide in each of the hives, two in the top hive box and two in the bottom. Back then I still had 4 hives. The strips I put in Hive #2 were a waste, since that hive died and I had to take it down. But now it is time to remove the strips in the remaining 3 hives. The strips give off a miticide to kill off most of the veroa mites that all bees are infected with these days. Over time the amount it gives off drops, and after 42 days, it is no longer giving off enough to be effective, so you remove them. If you were to leave them in place, the mites could develop a resistance from the constant exposure. So you take them out.
Easier said than done! Last year I had my friend Susan come back and help me (she helped me put them in too). But this year, since I put them in all on my own in Sept I figured I could take them out on my own too.
I stood and looked at Hive #3, thinking about the best plan. The quickest, I thought, would be to whip the top box off, take out the bottom strips, put top box back on and take off the top strips. The alternative was to remove most of the frames from the top box, then remove the top box now that it was quite a bit lighter. This would take longer, but has the advantage in that it would be easier to take the top box off. But prying the frames out one by one is a lot of work, and I didn't want to disturb the bees too much. So I opted for the lift-top-box-in-one-go method. Shouldn't be so hard. I had managed to lift them off on my own in Sept, so I'm sure I can do it now too.
Wishful thinking. What I forgot was, the top box was now much heavier than it was in Sept, as it should be - after all, I'd just spent the past 2 months feeding them up so they could have enough honey in storage to get them through the winter. So when I tried to lift the top box off the bottom box so I could reach the Apivar strips in the bottom box.... nothing happened. I could not budge it.
After a huge amount of effort, sweating profusely, glasses slipping down my nose, bees getting more and more irritated with me, I managed to turn the top hive sidewards on Hive #3, revealing part of the bottom box below. Unfortunately, doing it this way squishes a lot of bees, and makes it hard to expose the part of the bottom hive box where the top of the Apivar strip is sticking out. If you turn it the wrong way, for example, or not far enough, you don't see the tip of the strip. As it was, I only found one strip in the bottom box. The other one must have fallen inside the box, which meant I would have to take off the top box and pull frames out after all. So much for short-cuts!
Then the other problem was that I couldn't get the Apivar strips out! The bees had built their beeswax around them, incorporating some parts of them in their hive, and pulling as hard as you can at the very tip, while wearing big bulky gloves which keep slipping off the strip, while your glasses are falling off your nose because you are getting very warm with all the effort, and bees are assuming you are trying to destroy their hive and are out for the attack, and it is getting closer to 3:00 when you are supposed to be suddenly nice and neat, out of your bee gear, in the car, and on your way to picking up your kids from school, is not my idea of fun. UURRRRR!!! I finally gave up on the 4th strip in the bottom box of Hive #3. I eventually got all the other three out, closed up the hive, and moved on to Hive #6.
This hive had all Apivar strips in place, hooray! But just as hard to remove, groan! The only plus is that the top hive box did not fall off when I had it perched at an angle so I could reach the strips! If that had happened that would have been a disaster! So, at least I will be glad about that!
The Apivar strips in this hive were even harder to get out! When I was done, I raced back to the house, leaving the last hive to do on another day. Needless to say, I was late picking up the girls from school. Oops.
Monday Nov. 14th. After the experience of the previous week, I decided when I went back to take the Apivar strips out of the last hive (Hive 5), I would have to try method 1, where you remove the frames from the top box first. And this time, everything went very smoothly. Sigh. This is what I should have done with the other ones. A group of frames came out in one block, I moved the block of frames to an empty hive box temporarily, then I was able to lift the top hive box without any trouble, and put it down elsewhere, so that it was really easy to reach the Apivar strips in the bottom box. Plus, I didn't upset the resident bees too much. It all went very well. Afterwards, I returned to Hive #3, did exactly the same thing, and managed to find the 4th Apivar strip in the bottom box without any trouble at all. It had slipped down a little between the frames. So that job is now DONE! Yay!