Should I treat for mites?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Cupcakus, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. Cupcakus

    Cupcakus New Member

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    Did my final inspection of the year yesterday, both of my hives are double deep, and the top deeps are 95% full of honey, plenty for the winter. I did a 24hr sticky board mite drop test, and counted 25 on one hive, and about 12 on the other. The counts are low enough that I'm thinking no treatment is really necessary at all, but I can throw some powdered sugar in there to increase the drop during this brood break if that's a worthwhile thing to do. They're all set for winter and they get really quite testy when I open them up so if it's ok to just leave them alone for a while I will. I'd really like to avoid using any chemical mite treatments if I can avoid it.
     
  2. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    You are far enough north that I think leaving them would be best. They have made their bed for winter. Mite counts in your area should be made in Sept. or before, so the emerging winter bees would be protected. If the count was average, you should be good to go. It is always better to do 3 counts and get an average. One count may be a long ways off from the truth.
     

  3. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    it is rare that Iddee and I disagree on things associated with beekeeping and this question certainly complies with that tendency. at this time of year the mite count should be naturally dropping anyway no matter if you treat or not. I haven't treated in quite some time by like most thing associated with beekeeping there is an appropriate time (biologically) to do things and when you are outside that time window anything you do has very a very limited positive impact. < it seems to me as a large overarching conclusion that if mites severely effect a hive this typically happens in September and October and if a hive get beyond that two month time frame anything you might do to have a positive impact on the hive's health will wait until next year/season.

    I do have a large bias in that I would prefer to do no treatments at all and thereby allowing a hive to look after itself. Once you get to the point of selecting a hive for hardiness against mites then any and all treatments you performed will bias this selection process.
     
  4. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    OK, what did you disagree with? You said the same thing I did. It is too late to treat.
     
  5. Cupcakus

    Cupcakus New Member

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    Sounds like he's saying you and him rarely disagree, and in this case you still don't.

    I am a bit late maybe to treat, but when I checked the hive first week of Nov, we still had several drones in there, and we still have blooms and foraging going on, so I was waiting to make final winter preparations until the end of the month. I did not find any drones this weekend. Next year I'll do my mite counts earlier. These bees are local stock, and supposedly very mite resistant. Good numbers and lots of honey in both for the winter so I'll leave them be.

    ​Thanks for the help.
     
  6. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip just for my buddy Iddee...
    it is rare that Iddee and I disagree on things associated with beekeeping and this question certainly complies with that tendency.

    tecumseh...
    well I was not disagreeing with you at all Iddee but was simply adding a bit of context to Cupcakus question.
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Yes, cupcakus, we both have been in a hive a few times and have made our mistakes. :D

    When you treat for mites, you kill the adults who would be laying eggs in open brood for the next 10 or more days. That brood would emerge at 21 days, which means a month or more has passed before the treatments begin to produce mite free bees. Depending on climate, the winter bees need to emerge mite free. In the Frisco/Oakland are, I would think the treatment should be finished before Oct. With a count of 25 and 12, I don't think your bees will perish from mites, so I would leave them and let them use the few mites they have to build resistance, since any treatment done now would only effect the bees emerging after cold weather has set in.
     
  8. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    My 2 cents... not too late for OA vapor. That's what I would do. You'll start the spring with very low counts.
     
  9. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    I was always under the impression that 24 hour natural drop mite counts should be in the 3 to 5 mite range, with 10 being the treatment threshold. I monitor my mite count about 10 to 15 times throughout the year (just because it's easy with my back yard hive). I find that there is a huge spike in mite drop as the brood nest contracts for winter. Here that happens quite suddenly around the time of first frost. At any given time most of the mite population is inside capped brood cells. when there is a sudden shortage of capped brood, a lot of the mites end up dropping down. My hive will go from a natural drop of 5 to a natural drop of 50 or more right at the beginning of October.

    My point is that your mite count seems quite high to me, but this may be on account of the timing of it.

    Personally, I like to treat rather late because I feel that it kills more mites and results in a bigger mite population re-set for the next year. Mites that are sealed inside cells are not affected by most treatments, so treating when no capped brood is present gets better results. This strategy does not result in healthier winter bees, but in a lower mite population in spring.
     
  10. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a snip....
    Personally, I like to treat rather late

    tecumseh...
    the less brood you have the fewer the mites you have on the brood < the mites here are pretty much shielded from any intervention you might wish to take.
     
  11. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    i'm not sure I follow? it's the mites that are in sealed cells that are protected from treatment. Thus less brood=better treatment results.
     
  12. efmesch

    efmesch Active Member

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    I don't like to disagree with Iddee and Tecumsseh combined, but I lean toward pistol's thoughts. Here, in Israel, though the winter doesn't keep bees clustered very much and there is some winter brood rearing, we like to treat against varoa in the winter too. It's a season when one doesn't have to be concerned about chemicals affecting nectar as it comes in (and resultantly, possibly leaving residues in the honey) and it tends to give you as clean a start as possible when the season wakes up in the spring.
     
  13. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    Short answer yes. Particularly with Oxalic Acid, dribble or vapor.
     
  14. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    I think there are two factors to decide early or late treatments. Treatments when there is no brood (at least no capped brood) catches the mites on the adults where they are much more vulnerable, so later treatments are more effective statistically. The problem with that train of thought is that the late summer, early fall brood is that of the winter survivor bees. If they emerge compromised by mite damage and vectored virus disease, you negate much of the reason for having treated in the first place. Pistolpete says it here "This strategy does not result in healthier winter bees, but in a lower mite population in spring." Actually, taken far enough that will result in zero mites in the spring cause there will be no bees for them to have survived on!

    It is a difficult situation to treat early enough for best overall health of the bees without overlapping with honey supers being on. I certainly wouldn't mess with the synthetics in any form but from what I have read and correspondence with some who have tried it, treating with oxalic vapor or formic acid with honey supers on will not be harmfull to the honey. Oxalic is so quick that you could pull the supers off for a few hours; formic acid hangs around a bit longer but still would be doable for a handful of hives.

    I know regulations are different re. OA in the US than Canada but a lot of folks are disregarding what is primarily a technicality. If you have anything of the rebel in you this is an easy decision!

    I like pulling out drone brood to examine for mites. That does not kill any valuable bees.
     
  15. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    frank~
    "I think there are two factors to decide early or late treatments. Treatments when there is no brood (at least no capped brood) catches the mites on the adults where they are much more vulnerable, so later treatments are more effective statistically. The problem with that train of thought is that the late summer, early fall brood is that of the winter survivor bees. If they emerge compromised by mite damage and vectored virus disease, you negate much of the reason for having treated in the first place. Pistolpete says it here "This strategy does not result in healthier winter bees, but in a lower mite population in spring." Actually, taken far enough that will result in zero mites in the spring cause there will be no bees for them to have survived on!"


    iddee~
    "You are far enough north that I think leaving them would be best. They have made their bed for winter. Mite counts in your area should be made in Sept. or before, so the emerging winter bees would be protected

    what frank said, what iddee said. really the best time, in northern country, okay my area, is to be treating for mites when you take the last honey supers off for the year, the earlier, the better. depending on what you are using and how this affects your bees or queens, you need the brood cycles for the winter bees. also, some treatments are temp dependent and most multiple treatments. you want your bees strong going into winter. if the chemical causes your queen to go mia, or she stops laying, then your in trouble here in wisconsin. pete, i don't know how late you wait to treat your bees, and i understand the logic in your thinking, but it doesn't work that way. if beeks here have a large mite population, gone untreated, in there hives here in late september october, november, and have not treated, they will never make it through winter, and will die typically in december.

    i would just like to add, i don't treat my bees anymore, not with the russians. i did for a few years and found i didn't need mite treatments. when i did treat for mites, the last chemical i used was apiguard. honey came off in mid to late august, and 1-3 treatments with it. (rarely used 3). but what i am saying is plan to treat your bees well before going into winter months.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2013
  16. Gypsi

    Gypsi Super Moderator Staff Member

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    Good thread. I found the last batch of brood hatched and I had HUGE mite counts on the sticky board, so I did a powdered sugar dusting as soon as the cells were empty. Not seeing much on the stickies since. Hoping they do ok this winter.
     
  17. Capt44

    Capt44 New Member

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    I am in Central Arkansas and talked to the State be inspector today about mite treatment.
    I treated with Formic Acid but he told me he has inspected a lot of hives that have failed due to mites and the reason was non treatment.