Powdered sugar roll and lots of mites

Discussion in 'Pests and Diseases' started by Tyro, May 27, 2012.

  1. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    I noticed some bees with DWV in one of my hives, so I went out today and did a powdered sugar roll.

    This is what 243 mites/300 bees looks like!

    mites.JPG

    I decided some time ago that I wasn't going to treat chemically. So, I removed the queen and will let them raise their own so that I can break the mite brood cycle. It is still early enough here that they will have time to get it together before the winter.

    I also put the queen in a nuc, so I can recombine later if they fail to raise a new queen, or build it up to overwinter.

    Mike
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Holy Crammoley, that's a bunch of mites! :shock:
     

  3. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    Have you been splitting on a regular basis up until now, or what has been your alternative to chemical treatments for mites?
     
  4. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    Generally I don't split. By the time spring is underway up here, there isn't time to split hives and have enough time for them to build up for winter. I keep the bees on screened bottom boards in the summer. If spring is early enough (such as this year), I will split them or pull the queen to break the brood cycle (but never after the first week of June). I also keep Russian or VSH queens (but mostly Russian). Other than that - it is live or die for the bees.
     
  5. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    My opinion: I think you did just the right thing at the right moment now. Once your new queen gets laying in a month, the mites will be way less and new queen will begin laying like gangbusters just in time for late summer.
     
  6. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    Well, we will see. I will post the results in a month or so (both queen laying pattern and mite count). I did save the queen, so if they fail to make one, I can possibly recombine and still have the benefit of the break in the brood cycle.

    Ultimately, if they fail though and don't survive, I am not too bothered by it. Nobody likes to lose bees, but across my entire (hobby) operation, it is more cost effective for me to just buy bees than it is to treat. I run between 15-20 hives each year now. Treating those hives can potentially cost over $500/year (if they need to be treated in the early spring and late fall)

    MAQS is $45/10; 2 MAQS/deep; Need 60-80 MAQS to treat the entire operation one time - that is, $270-$360 to treat all hives one time. I can buy 4-6 nucs for that money in the spring (I pay $15/brood frame +$15-$20 for a queen). Given that there is also no guarantee that the treated hives make it through winter AND I can make some splits from my strong spring survivors or collect swarms - it just doesn't make financial sense to treat.

    So, if I can break the brood cycle/run screened bottoms/etc. to help out a hive - I will do it. But I don't drop money on treatments for mites. The additional benefits of my strategy are that I get to test out new lines of queens each year (I have found a couple that are pretty mite resistant and good at overwintering), I can play with the genetics by making queens from my survivors for my overwinter nucs and my survivors may be even more mite resistant.

    Mike
     
  7. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    Update

    I have an update on my hive that tested with 243 mites/300 bees:

    I moved the queen and a frame of bees and brood to a nuc in order to let the main hive supersede and break the mite cycle.

    I moved the nuc a couple miles away to my backyard. Yesterday - about noon, my wife and I see a cloud of bees in the front yard that looks very much like a swarm. It turns out that they are from the nuc (it isn't swarming, there are no cells and only a frame of bees and brood). As they move back into the nuc, I see this on the pallet in front of the nuc entrance:

    downsize 2.jpg downsize.jpg

    That is the queen from the mite infected hive (last year's - marked white). She hung out there for awhile - then I had to go and look in on other hives. I don't know if she returned to the hive.

    Can any one tell me what was going on?

    thanks

    Mike
     
  8. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Sounds like a last ditch effort to abscond due to heavy mite load.

    Sometimes there MAY be a good reason for chemical warfare.
     
  9. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    When you put the queen and one frame of bees into a nuc, did you give them honey or food? It may have been not enough bees for them to survive...? Personally, I would have pulled at least one additional frame of brood and bees from another hive to put in the nuc to keep them going- I think it may not be easy for a nuc of only one frame of bees to survive.

    I think of the hive in question here as the main hive that is now hopefully making a new queen- that's the hive that will reflect whether or not your mite-cycle-break-treatment was successful or not. The fact that your 'queen nuc' might not survive on one frame of bees seems unsurprising to me.
     
  10. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    No - I did have a frame of honey and bees with it. But it was only one frame of brood. I also fed it 1:1 syrup.

    In truth, I am not too worried about it. If it does survive, then I will have a nuc. If it doesn't, I am not out much. I found the behavior to be interesting though.
     
  11. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I understand.
    Seems a shame to lose a queen though- extra queens and nucs can be very handy if some hives fail. Most nuc making instructions I've read say to start a minimum of two frames of brood and nurse bees, so maybe your odds of the nuc surviving would have been better with a bit more brood.
     
  12. CharlieB

    CharlieB New Member

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    Not often but every once in a while, I hive swarms and make up nucs and they do not like the new digs for whatever reason. I always put a frame of honey, brood and drawn comb in and in short order, they'll be hanging out under the bottom board or on the side of nearby hive surrounding the queen. One swarm I hived I had to catch the queen 3 times and put her back in. She insisted on hanging out under the bottom board instead of the inside of the hive. She finally got it and didn't come back out again.
     
  13. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    thanks for keeping us posted on this....

    a snip..
    I have found a couple that are pretty mite resistant and good at overwintering

    tecumseh:
    and over a life time of beekeeping what do you believe that information would be worth? at least obvious to me if you had been on a regular chemical treatment this information would not even be known or recognizable.

    I have never seen it myself but I have had knowledgable bee keepers tell me that 'swarms' will abscond due to high varroa infestation (their natural instinct is telling them to flee the disease).
     
  14. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    I don't really breed queens, so my hives that are resistant and overwinter aren't candidates for new lines of bees. I will try to make a couple of queens from them once in awhile for my own hives. I think that the value in the information is that it indicates that it is possible to overcome mites in the long term (by essentially having bees that can tolerate them).

    This explanation seems to make the most sense - although, there were so few bees to start (and most of them seem to still be in the nuc) that I can't be sure that it happened. Perhaps it was a failed attempt to swarm in order to escape the mites.

    I added another frame of brood and bees to the nuc a few days ago. They are pulling a few cells and trying to throw a queen. If they get it together, I will manage them as an overwintering nuc.

    I haven't checked the original hive since I took its queen. According to my records, they should have hatched a queen on Tuesday and mating flights should occur between now and next Tuesday. I will probably look in on it mid-week and see if there is a queen.

    Mike
     
  15. Bens-Bees

    Bens-Bees New Member

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    Once the last of the current brood is capped it'll be a good time to dust the whole hive with powdered sugar while on a SBB over a bath of oil to make sure the mites die.
     
  16. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Or dip the entire hive in a vat of boiling oil, to make sure ALL the mites DIE horrible deaths!


    (just pulling yer leg) :wink:
     
  17. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    Update

    I checked the hive yesterday. It has been 18 days since I removed the queen. At the time, there were 12-14 frames of bees, several frames of brood and a TON of mites (with plenty of bees exhibiting DWV).

    Yesterday, the hive was down to 3 frames of bees! There were no brood (which is not surprising) and there was a virgin queen running around (and plenty of queen cells that had hatched or had been chewed through).

    I find this to be fascinating. The bees that were present looked really good - no DWV, no visible mites. I have not yet done a powdered sugar roll - I will wait to see if they recover their numbers. I imagine that the bee loss is due to sick or parasitized bees removing themselves from the hive (along with the normal loss due to age).

    I don't particularly mind the setback, especially if they recover and are healthier. I have other hives that will make honey for me. But it does present an interesting trade-off management wise. If you are dependent upon the hive making honey, either because you are commercial or because you have only a couple of hives, it seems that you almost have to treat in some way.


    Mike
     
  18. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    :thumbsup:
     
  19. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    We should note however that if one does this method before mites are running rampant and causing deformed wings etc, then one will not wind up with only 3 frames of bees left. I've done this several times already, and because the bees were relatively healthy when I removed the queen, the population loss was not that drastic by the time the new made queen was laying up a storm. That's partly because there was still lots of healthy capped and uncapped brood to be raised and hatched out during the week or two after I removed the queen. In your case, much of that unhatched brood was probably mite damaged, thus you saw a huge drop in population.
    My opinion is that you would have done much better if you hadn't waited until the mite problem was critical. I tend to use this technique more as a preventative to keep mites under control rather than a cure for a hive that's already taking a nose dive.
     
  20. Tyro

    Tyro Member

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    I really don't have that kind of flexibility where I am. If I pull a queen from a hive anytime after about mid-June, I have pretty much condemned the hive to death overwinter. They just don't have time to build up before winter hits. Most of my hives stop brood rearing in any great way by the end of August. If I pull a queen in July as a 'preventative measure' - the new queen isn't laying until sometime in August and by then, the summer is over.

    About the only time I can try this technique is in the spring on hives that have overwintered. Spring here starts in May. My first inspections generally don't happen until mid/late April and these *usually* mean small clusters of bees at that time. If I just pulled all the queens from my overwintered hives as a preventative, I would never get any honey. They would build up in time for winter and put up at least a deep of honey - but they wouldn't do more than that (and that would be in a good year - I know, I have done it).

    So for my location, pulling the queen is simply the last ditch effort to save the hive for next year (unless of course, I decide to treat with chemicals).