So I have been keeping bees now for 3 years, with varying degrees of success. I have a full, thriving hive, and an empty one. The first two years resulted in the loss of two nucs/colonies and the current colony ‘discovered’ the hive by themselves. In the beginning of the year I discovered that they had a varroa infestation. I treated them with oxalic acid (a spray, where one simply sprays each frame of bees, and it lasts a year). Over 2500 mites were killed and a lot of others were shed after powdering the bees with icing sugar. They also had a little chalk brood, which has remained evident, albeit in small quantities, throughout the year. The other major negative has been the inundation of Vespa Asiatica (Asian hornet) which is now rife everywhere. I have located 1 nest this year, and two nests last year (all in forests near by), which I had destroyed. I have also killed 1300 wasps this year, mostly with my home made swatter, but also with a BB air pistol, which I used to kill wasps when the ivy was in bloom (they go after insects and bees on the ivy. As we near winter the hornets are thinning out and the bees seem to appreciate my intervention. I have chickens which clean up dead bees and there are also lizards living in the rocks below the hive, which help clean up, along with yellow jacket wasps.
Now for the contentious part: I have have decided not to harvest this year, and I have also decided to largely leave the bees to themselves (apart from the hornet interventions). My last inspection was in June. I have since added a medium box for brood and a flow super with QE, and I have added 5cm foam insulation. In the absence of any other local knowledge, this is my plan of action, and I will report back the results next Spring. The months of September and October, so far, have been the busiest months of the year, with average daily temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s (mid to high 20s/low 30s C). Lots of pollen and nectar coming in.
I will leave everything as it is and I will not remove the QE (I know you will warn me about propolised QE, frozen queen, damaged flow frames) but that is what I am prepared to put up with).
I will next do an inspection in Spring next year and decide what resources I am prepared to harvest then.
The bees are multiplying and even crowding the entrance during the day time. If they decide to swarm then hopefully they will go to the empty hive, which I have ‘armed’ with home grown lemon grass.
I will perform another oxalic acid treatment then.
I will report back on all these points after that inspection. I have attached photos of the hive, as well as the swatter I use to kill the hornets. I even killed a hornet yesterday as it was flying away from the hive, having snatched a bee as the bee arrived. The wasp was stunned and killed; the bee itself, although stunned, recovered, and I put her back on the landing board, where she briskly went back inside.