The weather has been improving over the last week so I did not expect to see anything unusual on this visit, wrong!
Firstly one of the hives that has been a concern over the winter seems to be exhibiting signs of dysentery, the entrance is splattered with excreta and a few more dead bees as shown in the graphic below. If it is dysentery it could be a sign of Nosema, however we will have to wait until it is a bit warmer before taking the required 30 bees for testing. The alternate explanation is that with over 10 days of bad weather the bees were unable to leave the hive and it was still not warm enough to fly when they could so they did their business on the doorstep.
The same hive also has a resident below the slab it is situated on, the image shows the entrance. Looks like a rat to me, what do you think?
But what was of more concern was the next hive, a full on woodpecker attack with three holes all the way through the side of the brood box. Interestingly this is the only hive attacked and it has patched up signs of previous interest by a woodpecker, is this the location or the woodpecker likes to return to the same box?
The colony seemed to be OK and it looks like the woodpecker had only made the holes in the last 24 hours, the series of pictures show the repairs. The holes were first plugged, then the sides of the hive boarded over creating a gap between the outer box wall and the outside world, the three none entrance sides were covered in plastic as a deterrent and weather protection, Finally the hive was covered in chicken mesh to prevent the woodpecker if returned being able to reach the woodwork.
Let’s hope that is the end of this episode, as a safety precaution over the next week all the other hives will gain their own wire meshing.