Varroa Mites

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Gator_56, Mar 15, 2013.

  1. Gator_56

    Gator_56 New Member

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    This is my first year of having a hive and I have Russian bees. Actually Russian cross queen from Kelly Bee company. It was my understanding that Russians were less apt to have Vorroa mite problems. Up until now I have never noticed any mites, however this last inspection I found some larva in the burr comb built between two boxes.

    Is there an "acceptable amount" that can be in the hive or should I be worried and start to do something about it?
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Did you see mites on the larvae?
    Depending on how you chose to do mite counts the level of acceptability varies.
    Doing a 24 hour natural drop has 1 level (actually one for spring and a different level for fall)
    Alcohol wash had another count number.
    Sugar roll yet another.
     

  3. Gator_56

    Gator_56 New Member

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    I did see mites on the larvae. Little brown tick looking things.
     
  4. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Most burr comb in the Spring consists of drone brood. Mites prefer to breed on drone larvae, since the drone larvae take longer to mature, allowing the mite cycle to complete fully. All hives have some varroa mites, except for some isolated areas.

    I'm confused when you say this is your first year with bees- when was this hive started?
    Most new nucs and packages will not have high mite populations during their first 6 months or so.
    Did you start this hive in the Spring of 2012?
     
  5. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    If you are seeing mites on drone brood you probably should deliberately uncap some more to get an idea what percentage have mites and also how many seem to have multiple mites. Most important is to know how badly the worker brood is being infested.

    It is correct that most nucs and packages are not likely to have high mite counts but it is not necessarily so. Dont let that keep you from doing a definitive mite count. PerryBee mentions some of the methods. Deliberate drone culling and other so called soft treatments are possible as well as harsher mite treatments. If the mites get ahead of the bees, even the most prolific queen may not be able to outbreed them. If areas of capped brood are highly interspersed with with eggs and various aged brood that is a warning sign that mite infested brood is being pulled and the cells relaid.
     
  6. Gator_56

    Gator_56 New Member

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    I started the hive in May of '12.
     
  7. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    So the hive is about a year old. And you're seeing mites on the brood. I would do an alcohol shake or an ether roll and get an accurate count. If it's over 2% in the spring I would treat for mites. This hive will explode with mites by the fall and it's pretty normal to lose hives to mites in their second year.
     
  8. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    "This is my first year of having a hive and I have Russian bees. Actually Russian cross queen from Kelly Bee company. It was my understanding that Russians were less apt to have Vorroa mite problems. Up until now I have never noticed any mites"

    you have russian hybrids......you will have mites, maybe not as prolific as other breeds of bees, but you will have them. any russian bee or queen bred, advertised or sold outside of the rhba has in short 'muddied genetics', most likely purchased from stock 5 or more years ago, and have been crossed with the preferred lines sold by the company/beekeeper purchased from. only the rhba currently has the best possible genetic stock of the russian honey bee available.

    i would do as other members have suggested to check your mite count.
     
  9. Gator_56

    Gator_56 New Member

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    Has anyone tried this....

    [video=youtube;-crv868VZHU]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-crv868VZHU[/video]
     
  10. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    Lots of studies say it doesn't work. Don says it does. Up to you to try but have a backup plan.
     
  11. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    a fogger? nope I have never really tried that and the large advantage in going 'treatmentless' is you no longer need to worry so much about varroa or more specifically about CONTROLLING varroa.

    I have found those drones between the frames are fairly informative when it comes to accessing varroa population (tell me something but I still don't do anything about it.... call me a bad beekeeper!). for me if I see more than 3 individual varroa on ten pupae drones or several cases of multiple varroa on a single drone (these are actually the real problem with varroa) I then kind of know the hive has a problem with a high level of varroa infestation. sometimes they deal with themselves and sometimes they do not.
     
  12. Gator_56

    Gator_56 New Member

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    So what does everyone suggest as a treatment. I would like to do something without chemicals as I already have honey supers on.
     
  13. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    MAQS. Formic acid, not a chemical. you can use them with supers on.
     
  14. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I used a fogger with fgmo and thymol for a few years to keep the mite level down until the bees learned to take care of them. I tapered off and then quit as the mite levels were reduced. I am treatmentless now. I do think it knocks the mites down to an acceptable level, so the bees can build on their resistance.
     
  15. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I don't treat for mites with any substances, not even sugar dustings. Personally, I do consider formic acid to be a 'chemical treatment', but everyone has their own opinion on that. I do use drone larvae culling, periodic splitting (which causes a brood break period), and replacing older queens as ways to help keep mite populations manageable. (no amount of treatments will get rid of all mites). Even with heavy splitting last year on my 3 full sized hives, I still managed to harvest a total of 2 medium supers (20 med capped frames) in the Fall, and that gave me 42 pounds of beautiful pure honey- plenty for my family all year and enough for friends' gifts.
    If I were in business to sell honey and make profits, I might do things a little differently, but my goal is simply to enjoy tending my bees and to have enough honey to eat for my family and as special gifts to friends.
     
  16. camero7

    camero7 Member

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    well, everything is a chemical with that outlook, even water. But when I talk about chemical treatments I think of the harsh chemicals.

    Making a living - or trying to - will quickly change your outlook. I tried to go without treatments my first year back to beekeeping and lost all my hives. Lesson learned. Now I treat and even this year, which is a bad one for me I have 80% survival in my production hives and around 50% [still not sure since I never deem a hive dead until it's 60° and no bees are flying] in my nucs. I have never treated nucs - I use VSH queens and expected that they would handle the mites at least the first year. Several of the dead nucs show acute mite syndrome. Guess I need to think about treating them.
     
  17. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Another "option" is Oxalic acid. It cannot be used with honey supers on a hive though, and it really only works best during broodless periods. But if you are just trying to knock the mites back it is useful.