Most beekeepers (especially urban beekeepers) usually worry about the pests that live inside the hive like small hive beetles and varroa mites. We now have documented evidence that a skunk has taken up residence in the beeyard.
Skunks can be a major problem for beekeepers as they like to eat bees and their thick fur protects them from stings. A single skunk can really damage a colony in just a single evening. So far I haven’t seen any signs that this particular skunk has been bothering the hives, but I am going to take some precautionary measures.
Elevated hive stands help as it forces the skunk to expose its underbelly to reach the hive entrance. My hives are on stands, but they are not that far off the ground so I’m not sure how much good it will do. I think I’m going to try a product they sell to deter cats from areas in your yard. Hopefully these spiky mats will prevent the skunk from investigating the hives and deciding they are a great all you can eat buffet.
Large Marge’s hive (if she is still in there) has tons of hive beetles.
Luckily, I don’t see them in the actual hive. I think the girls must drive them up into the outer cover and keep them up there where they are easy to squish. I still have a bunch of Beetle Blasters so I may put a few into the top super this weekend to see what happens.
In my previous post, I mentioned that I removed 8 frames of honey from the hive over the weekend. One them had a line of drone cells on the very bottom of the frame.
Here is a closer shot.
I took a small spoon to remove the drones and wax before starting the harvest, and I was horrified to see varroa mites scurry out of the cells as I scooped them out. I’ve checked the hive regularly for mites over the past year, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen them. They do prefer drone cells, and the hive has been producing a bunch being spring time and all.
Here is a shot after removing the comb.
Here’s a closeup of the nasty little bugger.
I’ll need to be more vigilant in my inspections over the next few weeks, and I’ll put a sticky mat on my bottom board next week to do a mite drop count. This does give me pause about sharing some brood frames when I install my package next week because I’d hate to introduce mites into the new hive right off the bat.
Any suggestions on non-chemical mite control? Do those drone frames actually work?