visual mite inspection

Discussion in 'Pests and Diseases' started by d.magnitude, Mar 26, 2012.

  1. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    I was just in a couple of my hives yesterday, and "Whoa". When I pulled apart some boxes and exposed way more drone comb than I expected, I could see the Varroa mites just scatter. I easily spotted several workers, on which I could see 1-4 mites clinging to the thorax. My dad was with me and actually spotted one crawling on his boot as we walked back to the truck! I monitored via sticky board several times last year, but never felt the need to treat....

    I'm sure these hives need intervention, (which will probably come in the form of MAQS), but I feel compelled to do a mite drop count first. I can't help it, I just have to quantify things. My question is (because I know a few of you go these route)-
    How bad have you seen mites in a hive (just visually on brood or bees), and seen them make it without treatment?

    I'm proud that I was "treatment-free" last year, and I'm still hoping at least one hive won't need it, so I'll have an obvious breeder colony. But, I'm not going to take my chances when I need a little bit of a honey crop this year.

    -Dan
     
  2. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    IMHO only, if you are starting to see mites that easily visually, there is a problem. If they begin to crawl into worker cells to reproduce, your worker population will start to crash as bees will perhaps be born with stunted abdomens, DWV, etc.
    This is a situation many (most) of us have to face at some point. Going "treatment free" is possible, there are folks here having done it, but it can be a painfull process in the beginning.
    You sound like you have a goal in mind and just need to develope your path to get there.
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Either treat asap, or order new bees. Your choice. Mites should not be a problem this early in the year. I would think about requeening once you get the mite load down, if they are still alive.
     
  4. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    I put sticky boards in at 6:45 this morning. I'm going tomorrow afternoon to check on them, with MAQS in hand. I will take your advice Iddee, and requeen these hives sooner than later. I have to say though, that I'm impressed with these bees that made it through the winter with a mite load like that.

    My "plan" is to closely monitor each of my hives. I'm not going to "Live and Let Die", but I'll treat those that need it with a method that I'm comfortable with. I'll requeen those- hopefully from my own hives, if any fare better. I've got them in 3 yards now, and I haven't checked all of them for mites yet (didn't think I had to this early- ha!). I'm hoping hives in some yards will do better than this.

    -Dan

    ps- I wonder if I end up treating all of my hives, should I not propagate my own bees this year...?
     
  5. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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    Use this formula ASAP and you may save your bees. It's strong mix, but no bee kill should occur.
    Mix 1 tspoon of thyme essential oil in 1 gallon of water, fill up the spray bottle and mist each frame once a week, for three weeks. Good luck

     
  6. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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  7. Marbees

    Marbees Member

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    Great advice, and Larry is a member of this Forum.:thumbsup:
     
  8. srvfantexasflood

    srvfantexasflood New Member

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    Me too

    d.magnitude,
    This is exactly what I saw in a hive of mine last year. I did nothing, and I lost them. I am older and hopefully wiser.
    You could always do a sugar roll for quicker test results. I am sure someone has posted a how-to on a sugar roll.
    Some bee keepers around here use Oxalic acid as a spray or a drench for varroa. Although it is not USDA approved for bees, it is considered safe by many. There is also Hopguard strips. This is not available in the state where I live, but it might be available to you. Hopguard is a plant derivitive.
    There is also Mite Away Quick Strips. You apply it when the temperature is between 50-92 degrees. It will kill the mites in the brood, is biodegradable and can be used with the supers on.
     
  9. srvfantexasflood

    srvfantexasflood New Member

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    I neglected to mention that Oxalic acid cost pennies per hive to apply. Gee, could this possibly be why the USDA hasn't approved it safe for use?
     
  10. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Thanks srv, I actually have the Mite Away strips on hand and will use those. I haven't looked into Oxalic Acid in a while, I should re-visit that. Where do you get the Oxalic Acid itself? Non-USDA approved doesn't bother me too much, as long as it has a history and/or is approved in other reputable countries.

    I do like to have some kind of treatment/plan on-hand in case I get hit and don't want to scramble and wait for shipping, etc.

    I've done sugar-roll testing before, but the sticky boards worked out better for my availability this time around. You are supposed to minimize disturbance to the hive before applying MAQS, and I figure pulling a sticky board is less disturbing than scraping bees into a jar to roll.

    -Dan
     
  11. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Oxaclic Acid is allowed up here but that doesn't help you out there much. What I have picked up on is that it is what is used in wood bleach, available in hardware stores, and some recommend "cleaning" :wink: your frames with it. Maybe check MB's site for added info.
     
  12. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    Update

    I pulled the sticky boards on these hives after 36 hours and figured my 24hr mite drop counts (I would have preferred to wait longer, but time is of the essence). The two hives that "looked" bad a couple days ago had counts of 25+ and 70+. Pretty bad for spring.

    I treated those immediately w/ MAQS. It's my first time using these strips, and it was pretty easy. I'll let you know how the results were. I have another hive next to these two that had a 24hr. mite count of ONE. I did not treat that hive, but I will keep a very close watch on it.

    In another yard with one lonely hive, I had a count of 15, so I treated that as well.

    I have to say, I never expected it to start this early. I reviewed my records on these hives and last year, they were well below my treatment threshold (they had <10 mites/24hr. in Sept/Oct.). Should I be sampling/treating in November?

    -Dan
     
  13. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Dan:

    Let me know what you think of those MAQS's. They have just become available for sale up here in Canada and I have heard conflicting stuff about their efficacy.
    Up here it is recommended that after you do your "main" treatment, (usually right after pulling your honey), you use Oxalic as a "finisher" to knock down most of what your first treatment misses. (nothing works 100%). Oxalic only works properly during a broodless period, so November/early December works. This supposedly reduces your mite load sufficiently enough that a lot of times no spring treatment is required.
     
  14. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    update

    Ok, it's been a couple weeks and I repeated the sticky board test on the two hives I first treated w/ MAQS. The 24 hr. average mite counts before treatment were 24 and 70. The new 24 hr. counts on those same hives after treatment were 77 and 100+, respectively.

    So, it appears that the strips had no effect on the mites in my hives whatsoever. I'm extremely disappointed, and feel a bit ripped off.

    A couple things to consider:
    -I purchased these MAQS last year, but they've been unopened since then, and I didn't see any info about a shelf life. Also, when I opened them, they seemed "gooyer" than expected. Don't know if that's normal, or a factor of being stored.
    -They were also stored in my garage over winter (it gets below freezing), but again I saw nothing contrary to that on the packaging.
    -The daytime highs during the 7 day treatment period were in the 50s and 60s. Lows dipped to the low 30s, but again I saw no mention of low temperature restrictions in the instructions.

    Again, I was pretty disappointed, but maybe somebody here can tell me where I went wrong.

    -Dan
     
  15. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I couldn't begin to tell you anything about the storage or shelf life on this product, it just got approved up here. The one thing I do believe is that the main active ingredient (formic) and it's efficacy are very temperature dependant. Perhaps if it never went above the 60's it just didn't get warm enough for it to work properly?
    Just guessing here.
     
  16. d.magnitude

    d.magnitude New Member

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    The label requires high temps during the treatment period to be between 50F and 90F. High temps were definitely in that range for over a week after putting in the strips. I don't doubt that the formic would be more effective at sustained temperatures closer to the high end of the range they suggest.

    I have to say, if I followed all label instructions to a "T" (which I believe I did), and got such poor results, perhaps I should contact the manufacturer....

    -Dan

    ps- looks like I'm going to follow up with a series of powdered sugar dusting. It's the only other treatment I have on hand, but it sure is cheap, and I think it is efficient enough for me.
     
  17. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    http://www.ic.gc.ca/app/ccc/srch/nv...7345&profile=cmpltPrfl&profileId=201&app=sold


    [TABLE]
    [TR="class: boxInside"]
    [TD="class: mainCellWidth"]""Product Name:
    [/TD]
    [TD="class: mainCellWidth"] Mite-Away Quick Strips
    [/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR="class: boxInside"]
    [TD="colspan: 2"] [/TD]
    [/TR]
    [TR="class: boxInside"]
    [TD="colspan: 2"] Mite-Away Quick Strips are an organic treatment for parasitic varroa mites in beehives. The active ingredient is formic acid, an organic acid. It is a versatile, easy to use, 7 day treatment and kills 95% of varroa mites both on the bees and under the cappings.""
    [/TD]
    [/TR]
    [/TABLE]
     
  18. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Another thought, could this high mite count be a result of the bees uncapping affected dead brood (mites) or some other type of hygenic behaviour, resulting in higher counts? If these strips killed a lot of mites (as well as mites in capped cells) one might expect to find a higher mite count 2 weeks after treatment? Was there a lot of garbage (opened wax capping debris) on the bottom as well as mites?
     
  19. Zulu

    Zulu Member

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    I doubt if storage was a factor, nor the age of product. Send the manufacturer a question, I bet they will respond
    http://www.miteaway.com/HOME/MAQS_USA/maqs_usa.html

    Hope you get on top of the little buggers, I lost a hive because I treated too late last year .
     
  20. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    Everyone has a valid suggestion. you don't mention how many hives you are talking about, but...
    My own course of action would be this:
    I'd remove queen and 3-5 frames of brood and food and make nucs out of every queen. I'd let all those mite-loaded hives start making their own new queen. The 30 days during which the main hives will have no open brood will mean no place for the mites to lay, and the mite breeding cycle will be broken and mite population will crash. Meanwhile, the nectar flow will start and you can slap some supers on and let the current foragers truck in the nectar and make honey while the nurse bees are busy raising a new queen below. The bees will store nectar and make honey if the flow is on and they have queen cells. Plus, they won't have a queen laying in the supers yet, so you don't even need an excluder for a few weeks. Once a new queen starts laying she will quickly build the bee population back up.
    The original queens in their little holding nucs- you can do whatever you want with them- re-combine the nucs back into the main hives after a month (choosing either the new queen or the old queen), or let the nucs grow into new full hives.
    Splitting has always been one way to 'control' mites (mites don't tend to explode into a problem until after a nuc or hive's first year), but this method might still get you a Spring honey harvest while getting mites under control without treating. Just an idea I've read about from others - I'm no expert! :smile: I'll be trying some of this on at least one of my own second year hives later this Spring.