Should I wait until spring to check for mites?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by BeesRawk!, Dec 12, 2011.

  1. BeesRawk!

    BeesRawk! New Member

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    I still have a lot to learn. Of course I don't want to do anything that will harm by bees. I've read about mites and of a couple of chemical treatments and one natural. My bees are a feral hive that was captured in April. I haven't done any chemical treatments- I rather not- but I do have some APIGUARD and a sticky board to check the hive, but I haven't used either of them. Am I wrong to think that it's too late in the season to use them? Please correct me if I am. I am thinking that my hive must be a strong one if they have survived in the chimney for at least 4 years. I have watched closely and I don't see any mites on their bodies. I have 2 supers. Bottom is full and the 2nd is 80%.
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    As far as treatments go, I can't help out much because I don't know your seasons there.
    I would caution about judging mite counts by looking for mites on bees, highly inccurate, very difficult to do (unless your mite load is so high it's ready to callapse). Mites can easily hide under body plates on a bees abdomen, etc. Better to look for capped drone cells and uncap a few in different areas of your hive. The mites will stand out real quick against the snow white bodies of the pupae.
     

  3. BeesRawk!

    BeesRawk! New Member

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    Thanks PerryBee!

    It's mid 50's now with nightime around mid/low 30's. We're dry right now. Wouldn't hurt if you could truck a lot of your snow over here ;) I'm a skier and fresh snow would be very nice.

    I will need to do some more research (look at pictures) so that I know what drone cells look like.

    I am a bit hesitant to work inside my hive when it's cold, doesn't that stress them?
     
  4. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Depending on how cold it is and how long you spend in there. You might not even have any drones being raised right now, that's all dependant on your conditions.
    These pictures aren't great, I am sure there are others with better pics but here goes:

    [​IMG]

    This is a picture of regular capped worker brood,notice they are all the same height with just a minimum of a curved cap on each cell. (almost looks flat)

    [​IMG]

    These are drone cells (laying worker hive :oops: ) They are taller, standing out further from the comb with a bullet type shaped dome (to accomadate the larger drone pupae)
    Not uncommon to find them along the bottom row or two of cells on a frame, particularily in your upper brood box.

    I wish I had a better picture showing drone cells alongside workers but I don't.

    As for snow, c'mon up and take all you want! :mrgreen:
     
  5. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    Difficult for us to truly advise remotely. If mid 50's probably a bit late. How about stores ? Do they have enough honey ?

    Contact your local beekeeping org, I see there is a Sacremento beekeeping club.

    I bet there are some eager old timers who live your way and can visit to help you.

    Best way I learned , was watching experienced beeks work. Having a mentor does wonders for the mind, if not sure - you call them. If its a stupid question , they'll tell you :lol: , but still help you.

    Good luck.
     
  6. BeesRawk!

    BeesRawk! New Member

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    @ PerryBee, Thank you for the pics and descriptions. That helps a lot! I can see the difference with the caps.

    @ Zulu, I have 2 supers. Bottom is full, but I haven't pulled that to see what's honey and what's not. The top is at 80%. I have to wait until Sat before I can look inside again. If I have 80% total honey, shouldn't that be enough for the winter? Yeah, I know there's a local club, but I like it here :drinks:
     
  7. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    As the queen has probably stopped laying, mites wont continue to be an issue this late. But food might be. Try picking it up from back, if light , they might need food in January. Mine were between 60-70lbs going into fall (3 are a deep and one super, one is 2 supers). Not sure how heavy they are by now , but can check in the morning if you like, have 4 hives all still working on warm days, so can do an average. Have done a dry sugar feed on the lightest hive...Bjorn bee posted about this a month or so back.

    It has been drummed into me not to open unless 55 deg or above (preferably above) and not too windy and then only for a quick look. So all I have done since Nov is open the outer cover to see if we have live bees on the days they arent out and about.

    Will post back in the morning.
     
  8. BeesRawk!

    BeesRawk! New Member

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    @Zulu, if 55 deg is an indicator, then it's going to be too cold this week to take a look in the hive. I've already taken a look earlier at the top and removed 3 top frames to take a peak at the bottom. Here are my ladies...
     

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  9. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    woa a solid box of new frames all pulled and filled with something. looks nice...

    as a general rule if the bees have made it this far along in the season varroa is not a problem. I like Perry do informal varroa survey via plucking capped drone pupae*. I generally do this in the spring time beginning about February 1

    *a varroa on a drone here or there I interpret as not representing any great problem... when I see either multiple varroa on a single drone pupae or a majority of drones with varroa then the hive gets tagged as one with a potential varroa problem... since I don't treat this means that particular hive become a prime item for early spring time splitting.
     
  10. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I would leave them alone now and hope they come through winter ok.
    It'll be too cold anyway to do mite treatments in my opinion, with nights in the low 30's...!
    If they make it through winter you can split them into two hives in the Spring and then you likely won't even have to worry much about mites next year. Splitting the hive helps keeps mites down, but of course it also effects your honey crop. O, you could just pull 3 or 4 frames from them once they get booming next Spring and make a new nuc, then treat the 'mother' hive for mites in the Fall. Lots of choices- but I wouldn't inflict any treatments on them at this point right when winter is starting. Their best chance will be if they have plenty of food stored for the winter.
     
  11. BeesRawk!

    BeesRawk! New Member

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    Thanks everyone,

    How do I figure out how much is enough honey for the ladies? I figure I'll check on them at least 2 times month for the winter if it's not raining and the sun is out. I plan on using granulated sugar if I have to feed them.
     
  12. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    hefting via 'the grunt' method is one method <actually if you are new to beekeeping this a good 'feel' to develop. basically you heft the hive and if it feels like a brick everything is fine and if it feels light you know you need to feed and if it feels feather light then likely the hive is dead.

    you can of course entertain some more technically advanced means of determining the weight of a hive. there should be some photos in the photo section of some low priced stuff I sometime use when I know I need to get beyond the 'it feels like' information.

    once you allow for equipment and bees in most place 22kg of feed in the box is a pretty good number to get you to the spring time. this number (I suspect?) does not allow for spring time brooding or hives with very large adult population. i suspect a good conservative estimate in much of the southern US is about 60#.
     
  13. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    I asked Iddee last night about how much honey per month, and in our area, 5lbs per hive per month works well.

    I meant to post back on my heft on my hives yesterday - crazy day- all 4 are nice and heavy and have enough weight , but there is one slightly
    lighter than others and I will be watching it closely next month, if I get a warm day I will open up and add honey frames if needed.

    Mid January I will add pollen patties.
     
  14. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Just remember, once you add pollen patties or liquid feed, the whole scenario changes. The queen will begin laying and won't stop until she has another 30,000 or so mouths to feed. At this time, food consumption goes up dramatically. After you start to feed sugar or pollen sub, you have to be sure it is maintained until honey flow. With 20 to 30 thousand larva and young bees eating, they can starve very quickly.

    PS. I said 5 to 8 lb., depending on the hive and weather. :D
     
  15. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    I guess I don't hear too good :D Thanks for the correction.

    Need to get some of the dried brewers yeast From you..... Will call u.
     
  16. rast

    rast New Member

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    Very, Very right and important. When I put the patties on and start to feed next month, it is nonstop, can't run out, until the citrus bloom. Then take the syrup off and super.
    Reason is also; if the artificial flow we are providing runs out before a bloom, bees will think flow is over and shut the queen down when we need her laying the most.
     
  17. BeesRawk!

    BeesRawk! New Member

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    Thanks again everyone.

    I have actually moved my hive, so I can attest that it's a pretty heavy load. How much I can't say for certain, but I guess at least 70-80lbs. I have carried 60 and 90lbs bag of motar, so that's what I used to compare weight. They are still bringing in pollen.
     
  18. BeesRawk!

    BeesRawk! New Member

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    Sooooo... it's near the end of winter and I have noticed mite activity in my hive :( There was a bee walking on the ground outside and I was looking at it and noticed a mite on her. I used a leaf to hold the bee still and my hive tool to scrape the mite off and squish it :club: I kinda panic and treated the hive with Apiguard and placed a sticky board on the bottom to count the little buggers that would fall off. After a day, I removed the board and counted 53 mites on it. I've read that if the count is less than 100, I shouldn't worry too much about the mites. After some more reading on this site, I realized that I also have DWV :cry: My poor girls, I thought they were doing so well. How do mites get in a hive anyways? The girls are busy as if it was a spring day. The weather is been drier and warmer than average. I've even seen drones (is that a good thing this early?)
     
  19. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Drones are usually welcomed into any hive they land at (exception being fall). Even if you started out with a 100% mite free colonly, if there are bees around, drones will visit and along with them............................ :(
    I don't know much about your climate there etc. but I would think you will want to be doing something this spring to at least reduce your mite load. Split, sugar dust, remove drone comb, or maybe a Formic acid treatment (don't know if USA allows Oxalic acid ?)
    Good to see you are paying close attention to notice what is going on. :thumbsup:
     
  20. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    varroa appears (to me) to be a threshold kind of thing. 100 sticky dead varroa on a sticky board likely means little unless you have some idea of the total population of the hive. all the forms of counting mites have large error terms... meaning they can and will lead you to the wrong answer about as often (essentially a coin toss) as they lead you to the right answer.

    lastly if you have varroa then you also likely have dwv... + any number of other varroa encouraged virus(s).