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Author Topic: HELP- ticks and mites attacking my bees.  (Read 2709 times)
melnik
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« on: March 30, 2012, 12:50:04 AM »

Hello,
I apologize if this has been asked or is posted in another section, I am very new to this forum.

I live in New England and every year I struggle. The ticks/mites are literally attacking my bees. Sometimes I find up to 3 per bee. Is there absolutely any kind of solution to this, especially in this part of a year. I would prefer non chemical.

Thank you!
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SerenityApiaries
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« Reply #1 on: March 30, 2012, 01:02:50 AM »

In my research I have heard that the best way is to go to a more natural comb size. Michael Bush will know.
Here is an article I found:

Ed and Dee are full-time commercial beekeepers in Tucson, AZ. Ed is a fourth generation beekeeper. Dee and Ed work side by side in all phases of their operation. In addition to the conventional activities of beekeeping, they mill their own woodenware and wax foundation, select and maintain a stock of slightly smaller bees highly adapted to their area, and produce their own queens.

Their non-chemical ‘back to basics’ approach to beekeeping leads them to spend much of their spare time in libraries where they search for obscure bits of information which, when assembled in logical order, yield insights into old problems such as bee kills due to the use of pesticides, and new problems like parasitic mites. Such has been their pursuit of an understanding of the importance of comb cell diameter, an issue emanating out of their bee breeding activities and search for non-chemical methods of resolving disease and mite problems.

The Lusbys found that comb cell diameter differs among the various sources of foundation manufactured in the United States and around the world. Following publication of this discovery in 1990, they undertook an all out effort to resolve the question of optimal natural cell diameter and its potential impact on colony vigor. Having identified, to their own satisfaction, optimal cell diameter for their geographic area (Southern Arizona), they have nearly completed converting their entire operation to a ‘natural system’ incorporating their concept of smaller cells. They have widely reported to beekeepers that their use of optimal natural cell diameter has significantly reduced disease and mite infestation in their colonies while simultaneously increasing brood viability and colony productivity. Convinced, a number of beekeepers have embraced the Lusby’s management strategies. Ed and Dee have now turned their attention to developing a world map that will identify, for beekeepers, optimal natural cell diameter by latitude.

- American Bee Journal"
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Check out West Coast Beekeepers on FB. A great place for Beekeepers along the west coast of America. All are welcome.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/westcoastbeekeepers
jredburn
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« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2012, 09:33:10 PM »

This is a fairly recent post i read.  You can find it at <http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/ar/archive/aug97/mitesmoke0897.htm>
Needless to say I am in the process of collecting all the leaves I can get a hold of.
Regards
Joe

Smoking Out Bee Mites

Varroa mites on honey bees
Brownish-orange bumps on the backs of these bees are Varroa jacobsoni mites.
(K5069-21)

Beekeepers have a long-established practice of using smoke to calm their bees before opening the hive. Now U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists have found another potential benefit from smoke: Some plants, when burned, give off natural chemicals that control honey bee mites.

Frank A. Eischen, an entomologist with USDA's Agricultural Research Service in Weslaco, Texas, has found that smoke from certain plants either kills varroa mites or causes them to fall off the bees.

This mite began infesting honey bee colonies in the United States in the 1980s, was discovered in 1987, and has since become the biggest threat to managed honey bees. The mites attach to bees and feed on their blood. If the infestation is severe and left untreated, the mites usually kill the colony.

The standard treatment for the mites is fluvalinate, a synthetic pyrethroid harmless to the bees. Beekeepers put fluvalinate-impregnated strips in their hives to kill mites, but they can use the strips only during times when bees are not making honey. Otherwise, the chemical could contaminate it.

Another problem with fluvalinate is that European researchers have reported that mites are developing resistance to the chemical.

Several years ago, Eischen began looking for alternative controls for mites. So far, he has tested smoke from about 40 plants. The first one he tried was a desert shrub called creosote bush, native to Mexico, Texas, and other areas of the Southwest. A Mexican beekeeper, David Cardoso, had recommended that Eischen test the olive-green plant, known in Mexico as gobernadora.

Eischen set up a standard lab test, placing 300 to 400 mite-infested bees inside a cage and covering the cage with a plastic container. Then he put the plant material inside his smoker, lit it, puffed the smoke into the container, and corked the plastic container opening to prevent the smoke from escaping.

He kept the smoke inside for 60 seconds, then removed the bees. Next, he placed the bees over a white, sticky card to catch any mites that fell off the bees.

Varroa mite, about 30x
Varroa jacobsoni mite.
(K5111-10)

"Lo and behold, the smoke from creosote bush was knocking down mites right, left, and center," Eischen says. "It gave us the idea to start looking at other plants that, when burned, give off chemicals that removed the mites without harming bees."

Among the 40 different plants Eischen has tested, the most promising plants are creosote bush and dried grapefruit leaves. Creosote bush smoke achieves a 90 to 100 percent mite knockdown after 1 minute, but Eischen says that excessive exposure can harm the bees. "It's similar to burning tobacco in that respect," he says. "It's hard to find chemicals that remove mites without harming bees."

Grapefruit leaves fit that description. After 30 seconds, smoke from the grapefruit leaves knocked down 90 to 95 percent of the mites in the cage test. With grapefruit leaves, however, few of the mites are killed. Most simply fall off the bees.

"The smoke chemicals either irritate the mites or confuse them. We aren't exactly sure," Eischen says. "But we do know that the grapefruit leaf smoke doesn't seem to have any bad effects on the bees at all. The bees come through fine."

Eischen stresses that the findings thus far are preliminary. "These are crude experiments, and we haven't yet analyzed the active chemicals in the smoke that knock down the mites," he says.

"We're not yet telling beekeepers to use these methods for controlling varroa mites," says Eischen. "We're using these experiments to try to identify and isolate the chemicals that act as miticides." — By Sean Adams, ARS.

Dr. Frank A. Eischen is at the USDA-ARS Honey Bee Research Laboratory, 2413 E. Hwy. 83, Weslaco, TX 78596; phone (956) 969-5007.
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bud1
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« Reply #3 on: April 04, 2012, 08:01:48 AM »

i doubt seriously in your area that you have any honey to contaminate; treat your bees or they gone. next bees you get make sure they come from bees that can handle the mites. i dont treet, because my bes handle the mites. most packages come fom the big boys that handle hundreds, thousands of colonies and he cant develope his genetics by just letting them go and keeping the survior. but there are people out there that have done this and the results are great.
i also doubt you have ticks on yo bees
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to bee or not to bee
melnik
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« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2012, 11:28:23 PM »

Thank you SerenityApiaries and jredburn.  These are very interesting articles. I will definitely give it a try.

 If anyone else has any other valid solutions please let me know.
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SerenityApiaries
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« Reply #5 on: April 20, 2012, 04:14:15 AM »

Not a problem Melnik. Try to pick Michael Bush's brain some too. He has a pretty decent operation and is a good one to get advice from. He is a member of this forum.

Khalen
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Check out West Coast Beekeepers on FB. A great place for Beekeepers along the west coast of America. All are welcome.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/westcoastbeekeepers
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