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Author Topic: powdered sugar dusting  (Read 3687 times)
Deb-Bee
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« on: June 25, 2007, 01:09:09 PM »

I have a question about using powdered sugar to dust as part of a program of mite control.  The swarm we started with last year definitely has a mite problem so we are using several different approaches to get that under control - trying to avoid chemicals as much as possible though not adverse to them.  I thought the bees would enjoy a little powdered sugar dusting.  You know, kind of like a day at the spa for the girls - something yummy to eat and lots of grooming.  Boy, was I wrong.  They hate it!  I've tried dusting it over both sides of each frame one at a time (taking care to avoid areas with lots of open brood).  I've also tried dusting it over the tops of the frames and using the brush to sweep it down between.  My generally calm hives go ballistic.  Stung me three times the last time I dusted them!  Am I doing something wrong?  I'm being as gentle as I know how to be.  Moving slowly, sprinkling lightly with a sifter...  I try not to smoke my bees any more than I have to but maybe I need to smoke heavily before I dust?  I know that I need to do this regularly for it to be effective so any help would be appreciated.  Thanks.
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« Reply #1 on: June 25, 2007, 01:12:36 PM »

3 stings on a dusting sessesion..that's not all that bad. although, it differes from personal gear (veil +???)

they do seem to go ballistic, buzzing all around, but i don't know, i don't think that's the agressivness talking, they just get..upset. but still i think 3 stings isn't such a big deal.
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Deb-Bee
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« Reply #2 on: June 25, 2007, 01:20:32 PM »

You're right - 3 stings is not such a big deal although I generally manage to work our hives without getting zapped.  I just didn't expect the process to be so irritating to them.  Wondered if anyone had suggestions for making it less aggravating to them.
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kathyp
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« Reply #3 on: June 25, 2007, 02:00:50 PM »

mine didn't seem to mind it to much.  i used a sifter so no big chunks dropped on them.  don't know if that made any difference.  some flew up, but they were not aggressive.
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« Reply #4 on: June 25, 2007, 04:31:34 PM »

I haven't sugared yet...but I have heard brushing irritates them...maybe just do the shake?  LOL...spa treatment!
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« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2007, 06:34:58 PM »

I've noticed mine get more aggressive when I dust than any other time.  Including when I tear the brood nest apart.  They haven't stung for any reason yet this season, but they did start head butting and buzzing loudly at me when the powdered sugar got on them.  I usually just wear jeans, t-shirt, veil and sometimes gloves.  Although I use a sprayer made to dust roses, never used obviously.  takes a little while to get between all the frames, but it shoots out a fine plume of dust that looks like smoke.  Seems to throughly coat everything with really fine particles.  You can see the cloud floating out the screened bottom board and hive entrance.
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Deb-Bee
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« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2007, 08:30:47 PM »

I've just been using my kitchen sifter - never even heard of a sprayer made to dust roses.  I'll give this a try and see if it works a little better.  I'm with you - usually working the hives in street clothes plus a veil and sometimes gloves.  I hate putting on the whole bee suit but will if I have to.  The last time I powdered the hives, I could tell that I was feeling jittery because the bees were getting so aggressive.  I'm sure they pick up on those vibes!!  My hives are at the bottom of my 1/2 acre sloped lot.  I'd really hate getting chased uphill!
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« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2007, 08:43:13 PM »

All hives are different - mine don't sting when I powder them with sugar. 

They do fly up and seem confused, but I would be too with powdered sugar clouding my vision. 

However, some hives are more difficult than others.  The one hive that gets most aggressive when I use powdered sugar, also gets angry about just about anything I do.  I just ignore them, move slowly, and get the job done.

Linda T in Atlanta 
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« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2007, 11:32:54 AM »

   Try placing a piece of window screen on top of your hive. For every two deeps dump 2 cups of powdered sugar onto the screen and brush it it back and forth over the combs.I made a frame for the screen out 3/4 inch wood.I have not encountered any problems so far in dusting over brood if thats a concern for you.I have been doing this for two years and although its not a miracle cure it helps keep the mite counts very low.I dust every week for three weeks in the spring and then once every two weeks thereafter. Takes me about two hours to do twenty colonies---but I am pretty slow.I have screened bottom boards with debris trays under them and so far ants have not been a problem-even in the smaller nucs.Hope this helps.
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BMAC
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« Reply #9 on: June 26, 2007, 12:05:18 PM »

I thought the entire reason for sugar powdering when doing mite control is to thoroughly cover is MM of the bees body so the mites cannot maintain their grip onthe bee thus ridding the bees of the mites?Huh

If this is the case how can that be done with all the bees still on the frames?  The experiments done with this methodology that I have heard utilize a screened box.  They shake all the bees into this box and then coat them and release them back to the hive.

Am I missing something?
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SteveSC
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« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2007, 12:41:05 PM »

Quote
Wondered if anyone had suggestions for making it less aggravating to them.

Try alittle smoke ....
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« Reply #11 on: June 26, 2007, 01:01:26 PM »

Quote
thought the entire reason for sugar powdering when doing mite control is to thoroughly cover is MM of the bees body so the mites cannot maintain their grip on the bee thus ridding the bees of the mites?

you are not going to get all mites with the PS.  it's a way to keep mite count down.  if you do it in 3 ten day cycles, you'll get a lot of them.

some people use it as their only mite control.  some use it between other treatments. 

if you knock out all the bees and sugar them, you'll only get the mites on the bees at that moment.  the ones that are growing on your brood will be left behind and restart the cycle.  you'll also severely disrupt your hive.  if you do it in cycles inside the hive, you'll get many of them that have moved onto your bees...but again, not all.  if your bees are doing their job, they'll take care of many that are on the brood.
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.....The greatest changes occur in their country without their cooperation. They are not even aware of precisely what has taken place. They suspect it; they have heard of the event by chance. More than that, they are unconcerned with the fortunes of their village, the safety of their streets, the fate of their church and its vestry. They think that such things have nothing to do with them, that they belong to a powerful stranger called “the government.” They enjoy these goods as tenants, without a sense of ownership, and never give a thought to how they might be improved.....

 Alexis de Tocqueville
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« Reply #12 on: June 26, 2007, 06:49:04 PM »

> thought the entire reason for sugar powdering when doing mite control is to thorouly cover etc.---
    If you try the screen method and check your bees right after doing this you will be in for quite a surprize--most of the bees look like ghosts. Also the powdered sugar denies the mites reattachment to thier hosts because it basically plugs the suction device on the mites feet. Try this and see for yourself. I am pleased with the results so far.
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amymcg
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« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2007, 06:14:04 AM »

I haven't had a problem sifting over my hives, but they do fan alot when I do it.  I would also recommend the screen method. That way you aren't hitting the bees with the brush and the screen will keep them from flying up into you.
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Deb-Bee
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« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2007, 11:23:33 PM »

The screen sounds like a great idea!  Evenly distributes the powdered, keeps the bees in place and keeps me sting free (well, hopefully!)  Thanks to everyone who responded.  This forum is such a great resource.  I read lots of the other posts and learn so much.  Sometimes the questions that others post also reflect questions I have and sometimes I just learn stuff that will hopefully help me avoid a problem in the future.  Thanks to everyone who participates and shares so generously of their experience and knowledge.
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Moonshae
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« Reply #15 on: July 13, 2007, 07:58:21 AM »

   Try placing a piece of window screen on top of your hive. For every two deeps dump 2 cups of powdered sugar onto the screen and brush it it back and forth over the combs.

Do you leave the two deeps stacked, or dust each individually?
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annette
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« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2007, 10:36:59 PM »

There are, as usual, many different techniques to use in powdered sugar dusting. Some people do each and every super on the top bars, some people say just doing the very top super is enough and the sugar falls down enough to cover the bees.

I think it depends on how infested the hive is. I am having major trouble with mites right now, and so I am doing the sugar dusting (using a flour sifter) on each and every super (except the top honey one). I sift the powdered sugar over the top bars and brush the sugar down off the frames. The bees really hate it and I do smoke them to calm them down, but I have noticed that they recover really, really fast. They start to forage and do orientation flights shortly after. It really seems to be working, as I am knocking off many, many mites.

Now I have heard from some beekeepers that they only dust the very top super and brush it down. I don't know. Maybe this would be better when the weather is cooler, as you do not have to expose all the supers to the cooler weather. I feel that I do a better job when I do each super separately, as the frames may not be completely lined up in each super. I seem to get more mites when I do each super separately. It is a big job, but very rewarding to me to know I am not using any chemicals in my hives.

I am going to try to regress to small cells slowly, as many organic beekeepers have done on this forum, and hopefully get rid of this horrible problem of the mites.

Have a great day

Annette
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Bennettoid
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« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2007, 03:42:22 PM »

Did my first PS dusting on Sunday. I used the Window screen idea and it worked great.

I noticed that immediately after the Bees seemed to be gathering huge amounts of water. They were all over the birdbath and Pool and their water trough. I guess they were involved in a major cleanup effort.
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JordanM
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« Reply #18 on: April 15, 2008, 08:35:16 PM »

I am getting a package of bees and installing them. Should i powder sugar dust them and if so when should i start and how often.
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Brian D. Bray
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« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2008, 09:52:58 PM »

Did my first PS dusting on Sunday. I used the Window screen idea and it worked great.

I noticed that immediately after the Bees seemed to be gathering huge amounts of water. They were all over the birdbath and Pool and their water trough. I guess they were involved in a major cleanup effort.

I hope you used a shim with window screen attached to it--works great as a moving screen also, especially with top entrance hives.

The bees were going for the water because they were using it to convert the powdered sugar into syrup--one of the extras of using sugar shakes.
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