yes, I have varroa.

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Buzzen, May 12, 2012.

  1. Buzzen

    Buzzen Member

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    I went into my hives today, was going to split the big one. The queen cups haven't been drawn out and are still empty so i will wait on that for a bit. I tore open some drone comb that was between the frames when I removed them, and there they were, Varroa. Ugly little buggers.

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    Since i am new at this, what are my options at this time? I do have some Apistan, but I am hesitant to use it.Dont know if i want to use something that harsh. I haven't seen any on the bees but I'm sure they are there, my eyes aren't that good. These are 2nd year hives with no treatment last year. Any opinions?
     
  2. heinleinfan

    heinleinfan New Member

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    Hi Buzzen,
    I know many folks here have a lot more experience than I, but I have had success with mite control using powdered sugar dusting and a homemade sticky board with a screened bottom board. I prefer organic keeping myself, and do not like the idea of having to chemically treat.

    If you've not read about that it goes like so:
    -I have a screened bottom board directly under the hive, with a solid bottom board under that and so I have space between the screen and the bottom of the hive for sliding in a sticky board.
    -Sticky boards are pieces of heavy stock cardboard paper that are literally sticky, it's covered with a kind of glue like you'd find on the back of a label. I myself use an old poster holder that is the right size and shape to fit in my hive, and is a thin plastic so it can be reused and I make it sticky by spreading on a very thin layer of vegetable oil on it.
    -I get powdered sugar, and look for the highest quality brand I can find, or get some at a natural store, I want to try to find one that does not have cornstarch in it if possible. (If you can't, then it's okay to use it sparingly.)

    -I put the sticky board in and go in the hive, remove top boxes as needed to open up the bottom-most box first, and I literally "dust" the bees and the hive with the powdered sugar, using a sifter makes it easy to lightly dust. I usually pull one or two frames so I can spread the others out, and get some down on all the frames. I put the boxes back together and dust each box as I stack it back on.

    The idea is that the bees will go into a frenzy of grooming all that powder off their wings and in the process, knock the mites off themselves and others. Most of the mites will fall through the screened bottom board and onto the sticky board below, and get stuck there in the sticky, so they can't just travel right back up into the hive and then they starve and die.

    After 24 hours, I remove the sticky board and count the mites. I've been using the "50 mites or more" standard for knowing if I need to re-treat. If more than 50 mites are counted out of a 2-deep hive, then I re-dust once a week until I see them decline. I generally dust my hives twice a year in the summer, whether I see mites or not, and I've never counted more than a dozen mites on my boards at any time over 4 years of keeping.

    If you see WAY more mites than the 50, like you lose count at 100 or whatever, well, then you might want to consider an actual chemical treatment. After getting their population down lower, then you can use the sugar dusting to keep that population low.
     

  3. dr.buzz

    dr.buzz New Member

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    I don't worry too much about drones with a few mites. The drones are where you want mites anyway, if it doesn't get out of hand. Everyone has their own comfort level about what's too many mites, what 's too much chemical to treat with, etc...

    You can interrupt brood cycles by doing splits. If you don't want to keep that many bees, sell some hives every year. I've never used chemicals. I don't use powdered sugar anymore, either. Even if your sugar dusting dislodges 90% of the mites, all you have done is create a breeding population of the 10% that sugar dusting won't work on. It's basic genetics. If you wanted to create a super breed of the toughest mites, just thin the herd periodically of the weakest ones. Survival of the fittest. Darwin would approve, but I'd rather not create a super breed of the toughest mites. Same with chemicals. Instead of the mites becoming increasingly resistant to my treatments, I'd rather have my bees become increasingly resistant to mites and everything else they have to live with.

    I kind of co-owned 6 hives on a friend's property with him and his wife, and we didn't treat for all six years and only had one hive loss. They moved and I've had the bees on my property for another year now, and we now have 23 hives and one deadout this last Winter. No chemicals and I only ever did the powdered sugar thing once. It's not the only way, but it's worked for me so far.
     
  4. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    I do treat (when neccessary, but that's a whole other debate :wink:). If you do not want to use strong chemical treatments, perhaps go with formic acid, (or even oxalic acid to knock them back). As mentioned above, interupting the brood cycle helps and I have heard sugar dusting works (never tried it).
    You will have to decide what will work best for you and how you want to keep bees.
     
  5. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    You said you were about to split that hive. (Not sure why you are waiting for queen cups to be drawn out...?) Go ahead and split the hive now by taking the old queen and making a new nuc with her. Let the now queenless hive make their own new queen from eggs- it will interrupt the mite breeding cycle and the mite population will drop dramatically. Their new queen will lay up a storm once she gets going in a few weeks, and she'll replenish the bees quickly. The nuc with the old queen likely won't have a mite problem their first year.
     
  6. Buzzen

    Buzzen Member

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    I used some incorrect terminology in my original post. I meant I was going to start a 5 frame nuc, not split. Sorry for the confusion. --- I was thinking I would be queenless for a shorter period of time if I let the Q cells go until they contained larvae. These hives are in my back yard so i don't want mean bees if I can help it. I understand queenless hives are irritable.
    So, If I split this hive (4 boxes) 2 each, can I put them next to each other or will the bees go back to the queen right hive? I have 1 acre to work with unless I haul 1 hive somewhere else. ( A possibility) The hive is 1 deep and 3 med. Thanks for all the input so far, I appreciate your knowledge.
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Make the split and move them both equally. IE: Both 2 feet to the side, leaving them 4 feet apart. The foragers will split, some going to each.
     
  8. tecumseh

    tecumseh New Member

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    it would sound to me like the easiest strategy would be to cage the existing queen for say 10 days at the same time you make up the nuc and thereby create a broodless period for both the old hive and the new nuc.

    everyone likely has varroa.... so there is nothing new there. you on the other hand need to get some experience 1) with knowing when varroa is a problem and 2) some strategy to deal with the problem when they do get out of hand. in regards to 1 I do pretty much what your pictures suggest.... plucking drone brood and seeing the level of varroa infestation directly... treatmentless means I actually don't do anything terrible proactive when the varroa numbers are out of hand but knowing does establish a solid link in what is happening in a given hive. for me a varroa here or there means little but when I see all the drone pupae with varroa or multiple varroa on one pupae I know the hive has a problem.