So they came, they took apart and they just left. Unseasonably warm...in the 70's for the weekend.
Two beehive inspectors came from the State of New Hampshire Department of Agriculture. Ben has been keeping hives since 1950 and Chris learned from Ben. Pretty cool opportunity. In preparation, I had taken apart the hives Saturday morning and did a powdered sugar treatment on all. I was encouraged in the powder sugar method of varroa mite control by the wonderfully photographed blog of Chris Beeson's "Show Me The Honey Blog" - wait, really? "BEEson"?
I made up fresh syrup and gave them each a quart size zip-lock bag full....but that wasn't enough.
It seems there is hope. Ben said all my bees look very healthy, not as fat as he'd like to see them. He said, and it was obvious that there are no brood in my previous season's over-wintered Italian hive. This means that these are the bees that will see the hive through the winter, the upside being there are no brood to feed on for the mites - and on a sad note, it is possible the pollen shortage resulted in them cannibalizing the brood for needed protein. Ben said the Queen stoped laying after the fall equinox, about September 21. Italian queen looked fat and good.
They did a soft sell on Formic acid treatment for mites (Really want to stay chem free) but after seeing the hives they were more concerned about the awful state of their pollen and honey stores....so feed feed feed, as Wendy had said. What honey they had was stored on the warmest, "lee side" of the hive. I can't believe I've been so tenacious, yet ineffective in monitoring their productivity and the impact the mites have had all season.
As Wendy also said, the drain on their ability to adequately gather and store by the mites has left them in sad shape going into winter. There are a lot of them, however, and I'll step up the powder sugar treatment to every few days and keep pollen on and the syrup flowing until they run out of warm days to store and or process it.
Eight frame hives: Not in the Northeast! Yikes! We'll see how they fair.
Canadian Buckfast 8 frame hive had many empty queen cups, but if this is a recent event with no drones around, she may not be fertile or laying in the spring either and with no brood, the hive will be queen-less come spring - if it makes it through the winter it is destined to die.
I'm prepared for the fact that I may lose all three hives, but this will be a lesson I won't forget. I'll get to a bee school course this winter and do better next year.