Mite count question

Discussion in 'Organic Beekeeping' started by hlhart2001, Sep 19, 2012.

  1. hlhart2001

    hlhart2001 New Member

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    I know there are some people here who do not treat at all and I really aspire to that. I did a three day mite count for the hive and it was 40-50 a day. On another beekeeper's forum in the No Treatment thread one person said they had a 150 mites a day count and did it a week or so later and it was down to 50 a day(why the discrepancy?) This hive started as a package and so I feel from what I have been hearing that this is pretty high. Omie, if you are out there..you said you don't treat...have you had this high of a count? Are there others out there who have had mites and don't treat? I know the mite counts go up in the fall, but I thought maybe the mite count wouldn't be this high(for it being a package). The hive is still busy, bringing in whatever...it is pretty dry right now(although bright, sunny, temps 70-80's. I am going into the hive this weekend and see what is going on in the hive). They have filled medium 2 supers of honey which are on top of 2 deeps. They are keeping it all...feel the honey will be better for them than the sugar water(I kind of like the 3 deep philosophy..others use it in my area and I liken 2 deeps and 2 med supers to 3 deeps...at least until next spring(if they make it) when I can replace the 2 mediums with another deep). Thank, Halley
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    This is a tricky question but I will tread as carefully as I can. 40-50 mites in 24 hours is high. I cannot comment on the keep that said they had a count of 150 one day and only 50 a week later, too many variables. A count of 150 in one day would indicate a hive ready to crash IMHO.
    Natural drops can sometimes be deceiving. I knew an old gent that had several hives that he was quite proud of and when they crashed he couldn't understand why. His mite counts were always so low. Upon taking apart his hives (dead outs) there was so much burr and cross comb built up in the brood chamber I could barely pry the frames apart. How a mite ever fell through that to the bottom was beyond me. He rarely went into the brood chamber apparently.
    For a package to have a count this high indicates a problem. It will be up to you to decide how best to achieve your success. Perhaps sugar dusting at regular intervals will help alleviate the problem but it is getting late in the year.
    "Are there others out there who have had mites and don't treat"?
    Absolutely! I don't know of any keeps who can claim to be mite free, our bees all have them. It is the methods you chose for your bees to deal with them that you must be comfortable with.
    I am sure when Omie reads your question she will be able to better help.
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    I would first suggest you look at some of randy oliver articles (something like scientificbeekeeping.com) and this should give you some good parameter to go by.

    first I would wonder how far are you from the end of the season and your first cold snap. as the brood rearing cease the varroa count should also drop with a large drop at that point in the season corresponding to your first significant cold spell. I would also suggest that almost any method of counting varroa is highly subject to error.... with 200 to 300 % difference in counts not being that atypical. also a high count may mean little if the hive in question can tolerate that level of infestation.

    although I am treatmentless myself I do think for most new beekeeper finding some soft treatment that they can use in an emergency is a good idea. I think perfectly justifiable soft treatment may include... caging the queen for a short period of time, powder suger dusting and surcromid.
     
  4. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I think both Perry and Tec are giving wise advice.

    All I can say is what I would do in this scenario.

    First, (and this doesn't really help you) - I don't do mites counts because I wouldn't treat for mites anyway no matter what the mite counts showed. My plan is to regularly do requeening and splitting, breaking up the brood cycle and drone culling- all of which keeps mites from taking over. I pick strong Spring hives and pinch the queen and then let them replace their own queen and work on honey in the meantime. Other hives I let alone for a year but I remove some frames from for various purposes. I sometimes remove a queen in the late summer and let the hive have a brood break and make another new queen. I don't want to keep any queens beyond two years old. Any bees that can't handle a normal mite load after all that are better off not in my backyard. So I just don't do mite counts.
    That said...
    And knowing you are in Wash state which is not down south- you don't have a long warm Fall during which you could do various mite traetments or requeen.

    As Tec said, your brood numbers are now winding down and young mites along with them. There will be NO drone brood soon for the winter, which will help reduce mites further. The mite population is not going to keep getting higher now through winter- they depend on open brood to lay in.
    If your hive is otherwise healthy, and you have all that honey on them....if it were me i would not do any mite treatments right now. You could however dust them with confec sugar once or twice before next month, that wouldn't harm much, and might make you feel better! ;)
    You would do well to split that hive in the Spring before they swarm and before the brood laying revs up, along with the mite population.

    Personally i don't think 50 mites per day on a big active Fall hive is worth panicking over. If they are otherwise healthy and strong. But I'm sure others might disagree.
     
  5. hlhart2001

    hlhart2001 New Member

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    We had our first frost two weeks ago, but it is still warm and sunny during the day(80's) and has not frosted at night since(40's to 50). I know we are on borrowed time, but there is quite a strong high pressure system holding out over WA state and we have lots of fires right now in eastern WA creating lots of air stagnation(warmer temps) Since this the hive's first year I don't know if they can tolerate the mite infestation....so we'll see. I am considering the powder sugar dusting...what is sucromid?
     
  6. hlhart2001

    hlhart2001 New Member

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    Thanks for the advice....I am just trying to get thru this 1st season...and then face the idea of splitting, requeening....if they make it. I may do a powdered sugar dusting(just to make myself feel better;) As far as drone culling do you use a drone board or do you just open up the cells with one of those "forks"? I am trying not to panic, but feel a little/okay a lot concerned about this hive(because it is my first), but I realize it is a learning experience. Hopefully, the bees will survive in spite of me and the mites!
     
  7. hlhart2001

    hlhart2001 New Member

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    As far as a sugar dusting...do you take all the frames and dust each one all the way to the bottom? Also because powdered sugar from the store most likely has cornstarch in it do you run regular sugar thru a coffee grinder to further pulverize it? Thanks
     
  8. hlhart2001

    hlhart2001 New Member

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    Thanks for the link to Randy's articles.
     
  9. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    The mite population does not increase after brood ceases But since foraging bees are dieing off big time, the mite to bee ratio can actually be increasing and moving mites more to your overwintering bees. Even if sugar dusting is not considered to be highly effective, any mites it takes off your bees would be a plus.
     
  10. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Taking each frame and dusting would be more thorough. I wouldn't get too concerned about grinding regular sugar, just use the confectioners sugar. It really only becomes an issue when the bees cannot leave for cleansing flights. They can rid themselves of the cornstarch at this time of year.
     
  11. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    You can watch many youtube videos of various people doing sugar dusting. Just buy confectioner's sugar at the supermarket and don't worry about every detail. ;)

    Take comfort in knowing that relatively few new package hives succumb to mites during their first year. It's the hive's second year that mites more typically get out of control if the BK does nothing (like splitting, drone culling, or brood interruption) to prevent that.
     
  12. kebee

    kebee Active Member

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    I sure wish somebody had said something to what you said Omie, than I would have not spent $48.00 for MAQ strips for varroa mites. Did a sugar dusting and got very few mites on board. Might just put the strips in anyway since the date runs out next month, think it would hurt the bees, don't see where it would. They are still out working up a storm and bring in pollen from where I have no idea for I see very little in bloom, in fact almost nothing.

    kebee
     
  13. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Kebee, I'm sure some folks would apply the MAQS in your situation, so as not to 'waste' them. But...would you drink up a quart bottle of cough syrup if you weren't sick, just because it was going to expire soon? lol
    I did the exact same thing as you my first year- bought $60 of Mite away, then decided I wasn't going to use it. It was unopened and only 2 weeks since I bought it, and wouldn't expire for a long time. but they would not take it back for a refund, because it was 'medication'. Phooey!!! Grrr.... :( But I wound up selling it to another local beekeeper for $50- he was happy- got a break on the price and no shipping, and I was happy to get almost all my money back. :)
     
  14. Eddy Honey

    Eddy Honey New Member

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    Good discussion:

    I did a mite count with sticky boards and my worst hive had 37 mites after 3 days and I had a headache from trying to count them all through a magnifying glass lol.

    All my hives have had a brood break and all my nucs were started with queen cells with exception to 3 of them that were started when I took laying queens out of productive hives for the purpose of breaking brood cycles.

    I'm interested in seeing how they fare through the winter. They made it last year but that wasn't a winter...that was more like wintumn lol.
     
  15. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Sounds a lot like over here at my place, Eddy. :)