Showing posts with label waxmoth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label waxmoth. Show all posts

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Pupa Overboard

During yesterday's midday check of the Apiary I noticed a couple of bees on the ground just off to the side of Hive 2. They were struggling with something which looked unusually white.
On closer inspection it turned out to be a honeybee pupa.

The Mysterious Ejected Pupa
It was the only one that I could see and it just seemed a bit odd.
I was a bit perplexed.
The only way the pupa could have got there is by being physically dragged out of its cell by the workers and ejected off the edge of the landing board.
I'm not sure why though.

I had a quick trawl through the internet forums and the strongest suggestion seems to be that the colony is exhibiting 'hygienic qualities' which, apparently, is a good quality for them to exhibit.
It means that they are monitoring the brood for signs of things being not quite right, chewing open any dodgy cells and discarding the imperfect incumbents.
So the discarded pupa may imply that they've detected mites or it may imply that there's wax worm present in the hive.
However, on my regular checks there's been no sign of varroa whatsoever and there doesn't seem to be evidence of waxmoth either.
In fact, the colony seems exceedingly healthy and robust.

In addition, the pupa was quite big which implies that it was possibly a drone pupa. The ejection could be part of a general drone ejection due to a summer dearth of nectar flow. It's possible, but I must admit, I've not noticed much of a dearth recently, quite the opposite, in fact.

It's been 3 days since my last inspection so I suppose it could have been a pupa that I perhaps had inadvertently damaged. This is also a possibility but not, by any means, a certainty.

Consequently, I'm still not particularly sure what's going on.
It may be nothing serious but it'd be nice to know all the same.

It looks like it's time for some detective work down at the Apiary.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

What's That On My Landing Board?

The BeesofSpike Apiary has had a steady stream of visitors this summer.

There have been humans, of course.
Not many guests have escaped Spike Towers this year without undergoing a guided tour of the Apiary, whether they wanted one or not.

Freddie the cat has approached with caution and has tended to scale the perimeter fence for a look inside rather than venturing through the front door.
Generally, unless LandofSpike or BKJ1 are there to protect him he gives the Apiary a wide berth .

This is about as close as Freddie is prepared to get

And there have been wasps.

But not many of them.
LandofSpike has seen a grand total of no more than 5 individual wasps in the Apiary, perhaps only 10 of the blighters in the entire grounds of Spike Acres all summer.
If he'd had a Waspinator he'd have been hailing it as the most effective product on the planet but as he has yet to invest in one, he's going to put this waspy absence down to the miserably wet spring and summer.

However, and with due deference to that cat, those people and the wasps, some visitors are more interesting than others.
And the LandofSpike Wildlife Photography Team has managed to secure footage of two of this year's finest, so with no further ado we can present...

Specimen A:

This rather large beastie was lurking around the landing board and entrance on the morning of 9th July.

30mm long including antennae  

The Colony had only been in place for little more than a week, had already been diagnosed with a substantial varroa infestation and was in the middle of the wettest summer since records began so LandofSpike was feeling a little edgy. 
There was probably a choice of 4 reasons why it was there:

a) it was an enemy of the hive and was angling on laying its eggs inside the hive with that seriously large ovipositor.

b) it was an enemy of the hive and was angling on getting inside the hive to eat or kill the bees.

c) it liked pollen and was attracted by the pollen-y smell of whatever was inside that little doorway.

d) it was bushed out and just happened to be having a rest on the landing board.

So, just in case it was about to dart into the hive and start spreading chaos and disorder LandofSpike scooped it up with his trusty Queen Clip, incarcerated it in a handy jar and took it back to the Spike Towers Research Laboratories for analysis.

It wasn't best pleased at being inside the jar

Once the Big Boys' Book of Insects had been scoured for a match, its two pairs of wings narrowed it down to Order Hymenoptera and the absence of a 'wasp waist' pointed towards it being a Sawfly.

A bit stout around the middle

Pachyprotasis rapae was thought to be the most likely match but no-one was particularly certain.
However, it was certain that the big sticky out bit on the stern was the insect's ovipositor which meant that it was a female.
Most adult sawflies feed mainly on pollen so it's not hard to see why it might have been drawn to a big box full of the stuff.
Having ascertained it was no threat to the hive, Ms Sawfly was liberated back into the wild, but at the Eastern Borders of Spike Acres, well away from the Apiary, just in case.

Specimen B:

This behemoth of a hoverfly was hanging around the gates on the morning of 4th September.
It probably measured in at somewhere approaching 25mm in length.

Hmm, perhaps those bees won't notice me...

It was persistently curious about whatever might be inside the hive. However, the guard bees seemed to have the situation under control so LandofSpike didn't deem it necessary to intervene and implement a capture. 
He and BKJ1 contented themselves with taking a few photos and watching its attempts to appear nonchalant.

Identification was pretty easy. This mighty minibeast was Volucella pellucens, or the Pellucid hoverfly, and is one of the largest of Britain's flies. 
Hoverflies are nectar feeders so all that nectar-related bee activity was probably hypnotically fascinating for it. 
Interestingly, the larvae of this hoverfly live in wasp nests and bumblebee nests but fortunately not in honeybee hives.
So it may have been wondering whether or not these were wasps or bumblebees and if the hive would make a viable nursery.      
Or it could have just been after some nectar. 
Ultimately, it was just a bit too daft to get past the defences.

The Pellucid hoverfly does not possess Ninja-like powers of self-concealment

So, apart from the now vanquished varroa and a bit of waxmoth, both of which came bundled with my 5 frame nuc as a rather unwelcome added extra, that just about covers the visitors to the hive for the time being.

Next up, it's 'How to Light a Smoker First Time, Every Time".