My poor bees. Hundreds dead, perhaps a thousand. Silly clots couldn’t find their way out through an escape board, and died, probably of starvation – within an inch of masses of honey.
I had an extracted super on top, for the bees to clean up (which they did, very well). I put the escape board on a few days ago, to let them know it was time to get out, and they couldn’t find the exit. The holes to the escape board were blocked with dead bees, and the ones behind couldn’t get past. They were all just lying there on the escape board, little legs folded up, all dead, all dead.
Anyway, moving along. I had the difficult task of swapping the top hive box, from rotten to brand new. The frames inside were covered in bees, full of honey, and jammed with propolis and wax. The process is to lever the frame firmly but gently, left, right, up and down. Then lift out, and put in the new box. A couple of frames were so stuck that they came apart rather than lift out – a top bar came off one, a bottom bar came half of two, and a bottom bar snapped in half! With all that destruction and mahem, and a number of smashed bees, the bees were FURIOUS, but luckily none got through my gear.
Just to have a squiz, I levered the central two frames from the lower hive box – the central one had no grubs, but a large semi-circle of capped honey, with empty cells in the middle. The next frame had grubs, sealed brood, and I watched a couple of bees being ‘born’, chewing their way out of their capped cells. Not sure where the queen was, but she was on that frame within the last week anyway. I decided to stop there, as it had been a very invasive inspection. The lower box was absolutely chokka with bees, a very health population, although I noticed a number with chewed up wings (probably from Varroa mites).
The new woodwork, painted in glossy white, is now installed. On lifting the new box back up on the hive, I estimate the weight to be about 30kg, lotsa honey. I can now leave them alone for a while, though I will give them another mite treatment before the temperature drops further. A nice nor-west day should do fine.