Looking for varroa mites on drone pupae....

Discussion in 'Pests and Diseases' started by Omie, Jun 4, 2010.

  1. Omie

    Omie New Member

    Messages:
    2,845
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    [​IMG]

    Here's a larger view of the picture:
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_9fPBEJTqGzw/T ... k-jun3.jpg

    My honeybees came from a beekeeper who doesn't treat with pesticides or miticide treatments for mite control. They seem pretty healthy and I've had them about six weeks.

    To check for my hives' mite load for the first time, I put a frame of specifically sized wax drone foundation in each of my two hives. Varroa mites particularly target the larger drone cells in which to breed, attaching themselves to the drone larvae and pupae, sucking on them while the pupae develops in the capped cell, and emerging already attached to the adult drone bee.

    Yesterday I removed the two 'mite bait' frames of capped drone brood from my hives, put them in the freezer overnight to quickly kill the larvae and whatever mites might be there, then I thawed the frames today to examine them.
    I was delighted to find almost no mites at all on the drone larvae and pupae. I pulled about 30 dead drone pupae from their cells, and among the 30 I found only one lone varroa mite.

    In this picture you can see the capped drone brood still on the frame in the background, and on the paper towel a few grub-like drone be larvae, and some of the 30 immature developing drone bee pupae with darkening eyes that I pulled out. I removed the single little red mite I found on one pupae and placed it on the paper towel to the right in the photo so you could see it. It looks like a shiny little reddish-brown bead with tiny legs.
    If the mite population remains modest the bees will have little trouble living with them.

    My drone pupae examination was very encouraging! I needn't worry about combating mites at the moment. I put the thawed drone frames back in the hives where they had been. The worker bees will quickly clean out the dead pupae, repair the comb, and the queen will lay new drone eggs in it. I will now let the bees raise the next couple of batches of drones in peace. I'll probably check the mite levels again in about 6 or 8 weeks, in August.

    If there had been a lot of mites, I would start more regularly pulling and freezing those drone frames when they are capped, since that is where the varroa mite concentrates its breeding activity. Some beekeepers use this mite 'bait frame' method to keep mite populations under control instead of using miticides or other chemical treatments to kill the mites. The bees always do raise additional drones on the edges of 'regular' brood frames anyway, so there will always be some drones in the hive to mate with nearby queens.
    But for now, I can relax for a few weeks... my bees are doing well on their own.
     
  2. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

    Messages:
    1,696
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    :goodpost:

    Don't let drone larvae go to waste. They are yummy! And leave an aftertaste of a hint of chestnuts. :thumbsup:
     

  3. Omie

    Omie New Member

    Messages:
    2,845
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  4. srvfantexasflood

    srvfantexasflood New Member

    Messages:
    910
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Got chickens? I bet they would take care of them for you.
     
  5. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You said you examined 30 drone pupae. What did you do w/ the rest?

    One varroa out of 30 drone pupae is encouraging, but I wonder why tere weren't more? I would have thought that one varroa under a drone pupae cap would have reproduced by then. Maybe not, it just seems strange. Not that I doubt your findings, I just wonder about what it means.

    Also, if you had examined the thousands of other pupe, what would you have found?

    Next time, instead of freezing them, remove the frames and cut the cappings off w/ a long knife, then knock all of the pupae out of their cells onto a table or top cover or sheet of plywood. Then examine and see what you get.

    Are you planning on any nonchem treatments other than drone trapping?
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    excellent informative post.
     
  7. Omie

    Omie New Member

    Messages:
    2,845
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I left them in the frames, put them back in the hives, and the bees are now cleaning them out .

    Who knows?

    More varroa, I suppose! ;)

    I confess that the thought of doing this while the larvae were alive and squirming put me off from this idea. Any suggestions? Will the larvae die if I just let the frames sit first for a few hours in my house without being kept warm by the nurse bees? If the larvae were already dead i could handle this. :oops:

    Depending on the definition of non-chem of course...
    No treatments unless I start finding a higher rate of varroa. Then I suppose I'd try some EO like maybe thyme oil and wintergreen, I don't rule out sugar shakes. But beyond that I wont go to formic or other. I do have access to fairly resistant local queens from a non-treating mentor near me, so I could try that approach too. I'm learning as I go of course.

    Also, knowing that disrupting the brood cycle helps keep varroa down, i suppose making Spring splits is an anti-varroa tactic as well....?
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

    Messages:
    6,487
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    yes... anything that interrupts the brood cycle helps.

    I like to knock down drone cells in the early spring. It gives me some idea of varroa levels in individual hives and I thinks interrupts the vorroa cycle somewhat. any hive that seems to have a high incident of varroa early on gets split pretty much from the bottom board upwards.
     
  9. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    They don't squirm. Especially w/ their heads cut off. I doubt that they would die after a few hours in your house. Unless you keep it really cold.

    We should expect mite levels to be low at this time in the year. The peak of the varroa population comes about 4 to 6 weeks or more after the peak of the bee population. So, you shoul;d see the peak mite pop. some time in August or September, I believe.
     
  10. Omie

    Omie New Member

    Messages:
    2,845
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks for your help. :)
     
  11. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

    Messages:
    978
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Drone larva makes great fishing bait as long as you don't freeze it. If you freeze it, then it will just fall apart when you try to use it.