Starting again this year, but how do I clean the hive? Varroa ...

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by briano, Mar 17, 2015.

  1. briano

    briano New Member

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    Bee people,

    Brian from NY here, beginning beekeeper. The top bar hive I started last year did not make it through the winter, at least in part due to lack of honey (this year I'm feeding more, that's for sure). I opened the hive up a couple of days ago, and saw Varroa as well as the dead bees, and plenty of empty comb, light and dark. There is some comb with honey, I'd like to leave that for the new bees, and probably some cells with dead larvae.

    It's probable that there have not been any live bees in my hive for many weeks, and it's been pretty cold, multiple weeks below freezing. Does that mean that all the Varroa and their eggs are dead? Or should I take special measures to clean out the hive?

    Thank you.
     
  2. kebee

    kebee Active Member

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    I don't know much about top bar hives, but I would just clean out the junk in the hive and the new bees you put in will clean out the combs.

    ‚ÄčKen
     

  3. Walt B

    Walt B Active Member

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    Sorry, not familiar with Varroa, but the usual advice, as you stated is to freeze the frames to ensure against disease. The winter you're having, when did the Varroa show up?

    Walt
     
  4. Barbarian

    Barbarian New Member

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    Before re-use I lightly scorch the inside surfaces of used boxes.

    For frames with comb I have the option of using the Acetic Acid method to sterilize them.

    I think you will find that varroa cannot survive away from live bees.
     
  5. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    If the hive is dead all the varroa will be dead too. I spray my frames with a weak bleach solution or now with acetic acid. Let them dry and air for a couple of days and you should be good to go.
     
  6. briano

    briano New Member

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    This is great. So weak bleach, like 5% or 10% Clorox? Thanks again.
     
  7. briano

    briano New Member

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    I didn't see any Varroa until September, but when I opened the dead hive up a few days ago there was a lot more, I was surprised. I'm guessing they all fell off the dead or dying bees onto the bottom board? Either that or there were more Varroa in the live hive than I thought.
     
  8. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    You need to monitor your varroa count and treat when called for. If you're seeing varroa on the bees it's generally too late and the hive is doomed. The exact bleach solution doesn't seem to be that important. I just put a good splash in the sprayer and fill with water. Acetic acid is reputed to work better and I've switched to that this year. It kills nosema and other pathogens and kills and repels wax moths too.
     
  9. Oblio13

    Oblio13 New Member

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    All hives have Varroa, but they're usually hard to spot. Their population peaks in August/September up here in the north, and even if they don't kill the hive then, the chewed-up bees are weakened and don't make it through the winter. As someone else mentioned, by the time you start seeing Varroa easily, it's probably too late.

    I just clean the dead bees out of the bottom of my hives, and brush most of them off the comb. Comb is the most valuable resource you have, so by all means reuse it. The new bees will finish cleaning it up. I've never used bleach like some are recommending. The Varroa are already dead.

    Horizontal top bar hives are difficult to overwinter up north. The bees don't like to move sideways in the cold, and the cluster will starve an inch away from honey. The only way I've been able to overwinter them is to put a big sugar brick directly above the cluster.