Disaster! We forgot the put the mouse excluders on this year, and we thought we had got away with it. All 4 hives have made it through the winter (so far) but I was worried about one that appeared to have very few bees. I did not want to open it up for a full inspection because the temperature has not made it above 2 degrees this week and the wind has been so chill, but our hives have open mesh floors so I took a quick look a the tray underneath.
To my horror I found it covered in a thick layer of crumbled wax and mouse poo. (see picture)
Having then taken advice - online- we decided that we had to get the mice out before they destroyed any more of the wax and food supplies. So, today, we very carefully eased the lid and crown board to one side, so that we could lift out just the frames at the side. Sure enough, the outer ones one each side have big holes chewed through the wax but no sign of any mice. We quickly put the boxes back together and added the mouse excluders; phew.
There really are only, maybe, a thousand bees left in that colony but have food and with any luck they still have a queen so they should be able to recover. Still very worrying so that has taught us a lesson.