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Author Topic: Varroa counts  (Read 2160 times)
Rabbitdog
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« on: March 07, 2008, 12:12:43 PM »

This question may have to be filed under 'stupid'  Undecided but here goes ..............
I've read many articles about estimating the varroa levels in a colony by counting mite drop over a given period of time.  However, I was wondering if there was any info available estimating varroa levels by a simple visual examination of randoms frames of bees.  In other words, if I can spot 0 - 10 mites per side per frame and inspect 3 frames, then mite infestation is low.   10 - 20 mites per side per frame, then infestation is tolerable.  And so on.
Any thoughts?
My big issue is trying to accurately assess levels w/o counting mites on a sticky board.
Thanks
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2008, 09:32:33 PM »

Most people can't see a mite on a bee.  They are hard to spot.  It takes a lot of practice.  Since seeing them is a very subjective thing, it makes the numbers meaningless.  They mean more about your ability to pick them out than they do about the actual numbers of mites.
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Michael Bush
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jimmyo
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2008, 11:57:46 AM »

We count the mites on a clean sticky board after a 24 hour period. I couldn't count the mites on a frame of bees.
Jim
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bibi
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2008, 10:10:04 AM »

In fact, there is no matter how many mites you may count on a frame. I used to act whenever I could check more than one mite on a frame (using taktik) It is commonly said that one visible mite hides 100 in the brood. I used to be very cool with mites, dreaming of selecting mites free colonies (as everyone ), but I have experienced twice that very few mites, unvisible, may collapse a colony. It depends mainly on the weather. You may see surviving colonies with more than 10 000 mites (not long time ), and dead colonies with less than an 100... No matter the age of the queen and race. You will find on these dying colonies all the disease of the world, but the main cause will remain the bloody mite. Regards.
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Cindi
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2008, 10:21:25 AM »

Bibi, welcome, you are a new member.  Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and your experiences, we love love to hear stories from other beekeepers, and some that don't even keep bees.  You will find this forum a very friendly place to hang out, learn lots, ask questions, stick around, we love new members.  All the questions that are asked, and the answers provided, all help us to learn and become better beekeepers.  So ask, and tell.

I have treated my colonies last fall with oxalic acid vapourizing.  I was astounded at the number of mite deaths.  Hundreds.  I had performed the 3 day sticky board tests to ascertain daily mite counts.  The daily mite counts were under 10 on each colony.  So I would venture that that thought that 1 mite hides 100 within the colony is  pretty accurate statement.  I have kept very accurate records of mite counts within the colonies.  It has been an interesting experience.  Now I am anxious to perform the daily mite count after the winter to see if there are any mites present.  Have a beautiful and great day, lovin' this life we live.  Cindi
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kathyp
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2008, 01:35:23 PM »

cindi, do you find that your mite counts are pretty low in the spring?  i am pretty sure i am broodless in the winter.  especially this one!!  i have spotted 1 mite on the BBs so far, but where there is one......
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bibi
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2008, 04:38:25 PM »

Sorry I won't tell my life.... I'm french , I live in south of France, 35 years of beekeeping, and of course getting old and experienced, with about 200 beehives.... tried hard to stay clean as much as I could, without treatments or healings of all kinds.... If I have spare times to keep posted, sure I will ! All the best!
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Robo
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« Reply #7 on: March 19, 2008, 07:08:09 PM »

For a quick check,  I pull the larvae out of 10 capped drone cells.  If I find more than 1 with varroa,  I know I need to take a closer look.   

I know it isn't very scientific,  but so far it has worked for me.
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Cindi
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« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2008, 12:26:02 AM »

Kathy, last year was the first year that I actually counted mites.  I have to get this story clear on what happend with me, I will be brief.

2005 -- got 4 package colonies, did not do any mite counting that year or the following year
2006 -- All colonies collapsed and died in the fall (except one little tiny teeny colony, which was the result of a split), a direct result of mite neglect, I had treated with formic acid in this fall (2006), but the damage was so great the colonies still collapsed
2007 -- had an overwintered tiny colony, did not do any mite counts until after the packages and nucs arrived
2007 -- bought 4 nucs and 4 packaged bees, did a mite count on all 9 colonies, a few mites
2007 -- after finding a few mites did a few powdered sugar treatments
2007 -- monitored mites, still had a few mites
2007 -- fall, monitored mites, about 2-15 per colony
2007 -- fall, vapourized using Oxalic Acid
2007 -- did three series of mite counts, each from 48 hours after, 2 weeks to 1-1/2 months apart

Please note, all these dates and amounts are just from the top of my head, I have intricate details in my records, but these are enough to show cause and effect

After the vapourization there was extremely high levels of mite deaths, even after the 1-1/2 month period.  I was shocked at the numbers.  After the 24 hour period, most colonies showed several hundred dead varroa.  I know this first hand, as I took out the boards and counted the mites and as the sticky board tests showed, the mites continued to fall for over a month and a half.  I did no further mite counting.  Some may say that mite counting is redundant and a waste of time, but I am a record keeper, and these exercises of counting mites gave me a very intricate idea of what was going on with my colonies and how many mites were really present, it was shocking to say the very least.

During my deep spring inspection when I come back from Vegas, the weather will be very conducive to a deep check by then.  After this deep spring check I will perform another three day sticky board test to ascertain if there are any mites present.  We will see, and time will tell that tale.

In my second year of beekeeping when I had total collapse of 9 colonies I was devastated.  I had worked very hard with the bees and seriously never understood the magnitude of damage that lack of mite controls could possibly cause, be it whatever means that any beekeeper does for mite control.  There are so many measures for mite control, they have been discussed time and time again here.  That goes from the thoughts of small cell bees, hygienic bees, and so on and so on and so on.

I just know that I really don't ever want to lose that many colonies again from such an evil as the varroa destructor.  Enough said.  Have a wonderful and greatest of these days, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
Cindi
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« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2008, 12:30:17 AM »

Bibi, that is OK if you don't tell your life story.  Didn't expect that really.  Just wanted to know a little bit about you and you told a little bit about you.  You have been around the bees for a very long time and you have many colonies.  That is interesting.  Thankyou for taking some time to tell us these things.

If and when you find that you have time, spend some time here with us.  We enjoy to have new forum members, and you may find that one day you may have some time to tell us some of your adventures with the bees, I can bet that you have many that you could share with us.  Take your time, stick around and visit us, and enjoy this forum, you will make some nice friends here, have a wonderful and great day, Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
bibi
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« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2008, 04:01:13 AM »

The main fact is that if you gentle treat the varroa, with a "Perlimpinpin" powder or water, you think that you have reduced the number of mites. That's true. But when you think, that your colonies, may cope with a reasonable number of mites, there you are wrong. If the weather, especially drought, reduces the crop, you will see a difference in the brood. Even with brand new queens. And very few mites( let' say less an a hundred). If you keep up with feeding with syrup, things will get worse, because the bees need more proteins to transform the syrup. You will see with a acute eye, all kinds of troubles, spotted brood, chalkbrood, EFB, canniblism, and with an expensive analysis , Nosema Cerenae, IAPV, etc, etc... and finally the famous CCD. Of course you may have colonies dying of insecticids, but that's another topic.
So CCD, in my opinion, and I don't pretend to have the truth either, only experience is talking, is a kind of "Pearl Harbor" of varroa mites, on a deficient of proteins colony. Please excuse my poor english, but you have the main lines.
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Cindi
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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2008, 09:48:52 AM »

Bibi, never worry about any problems with English, you are doing well and your thoughts are coming through very clear.  Varroa is a serious issue, we all know that.  You may speak whatever you wish, we are all listening, and we are all learning too.  That is the key to becoming a good beekeeper, listening, keeping that open mind and never thinking that we know it all. Because we never will know it all.  Ever.  There is so much talk about the varroa mite, sometimes I just cannot talk about it because it is such a deep subject.  I just try to keep the mite levels low.  I am very interested to see the level of mites when I perform the deep spring inspection in about 10 days.  Of course, after the sticky boards have been within the colony for three days.  I am a mite counter, some will say that is needless, but I entire disagree 100%.  The beekeeper needs to know the level of mite infestations within the colony, that is what I would call to being a good beekeeper.  Knowing what is going on within.  Come into our forum, when you have time, there is always lots to talk about with everyone here, we all have valuable information to share.  Again, your English is certainly more than good enough to completely understand what you are saying.  Have a wonderful and great day, love our life we live.  Cindi
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There are strange things done in the midnight sun by the men who moil for gold.  The Arctic trails have their secret tales that would make your blood run cold.  The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, but the queerest they ever did see, what the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge, I cremated Sam McGee.  Robert Service
bibi
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« Reply #12 on: March 20, 2008, 12:52:52 PM »

A bee-hive may cope with ten thousand mites, another one may collapse with one hundred...
That is a paradoxal thing, once you've got it, you are half-way of success.
It depends on the weather, and crops. If you are surrounded by monoculture... No luck at all. If you suffer drought... No luck either. A colony needs various sources of pollen to stay alife. and the lowest infestation of mites, overall after the crop.
Regards.


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