Its early September and I have noticed bees beginning to throw out pupae on a regular basis. These are then being predated by waiting wasps. its not a pleasant sight. Some of the pupae are clearly still alive.
I am not sure what has caused this behaviour but slightly colder weather coincided with me stopping feeding recently and this may have been the catalyst.
My other concern is that there is an increasing varroa mite count. Currently the drop is around 30-50 per day. So I might be seeing hygenic behaviour by the bees or the beginning of serious problem.
I am currently going with the theory that the colder weather and no nectar flow is triggering winter preparations and the bees are simply reducing their numbers to match the available resources. This makes sense but it worries me that if numbers reduce, will they have enough strength to carry them through the winter or benefit from the ivy flow at the end of September. I’m torn between feeding them to ensure they have plenty of supplies and not feeding them so that the hive is not over-populated going into winter. Anyone else seen this behaviour?
UPDATE: This morning – things seem to be worse with a whole pile of pupae outside the hive. I can’t take it! Decided that this has been caused by my stopping feeding and the weather developing a definite autumnal feel. I have decided that I will feed, feed, feed until the Ivy flow starts. This should give the bees a few weeks to fill that super and be ready for the winter. As soon as the Ivy flow starts, I’ll stop feeding and let the hive prepare for winter. Any other advice gratefully received!
UPDATE 11-09-2013: The good news is that feeding seems to have resolved the problem in terms of drones being evicted and pupae being dumped outside the hive. That behaviour has completely stopped. I have also noticed that the hive just seems more “active” and “vigerous”. So I think the issue was simply that there was insufficient nectar flow and a wintering response was triggered when I stopped feeding. I will continue feeding now until the ivy starts flowering and review the situation then. The fundamental dilema still remains though. The larger the hive when the bees start winter clustering, the faster they will go through their stores. However this particular hive had a late start, only getting hived from a package in June and I would like them to go into winter with a full super over their heads!