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Author Topic: Drone frame varroa count/varroa life cycle  (Read 685 times)
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« on: August 26, 2013, 09:21:59 AM »

I am a new beek this year, with four hives:  2 packages split when re-queened.  I have read what I can find on varroa, drone frames, and life cycle of the varroa in the cell.  I am asking if my understanding of the varroa count is correct.

I have used green drone frames in 8 frame medium bodies with SBB since June.  I have switched them out when they have a sufficient number of capped drones, and frozen/replaced them.  Approximately every three weeks, less often in the splits from the original packages.  In checking for varroa in July, I found none in 50 capped cells/per frame that I opened, almost all of which were pink/purple/slightly pigmented stage.  I now have one varroa per 50 capped cells.  I don't see this at the treatment threshold, but know the level is increasing.

Should I be looking at different stages of drone pupae?  The two rust colored varroa that I observed were not moving; does this signify daughter varroa, and not the mother?  Am I correct in thinking that there probably won't be immature (less visible) stages of varroa in the cell if I don't see an adult?  I pulled all the drone frames yesterday, in the start of downsizing the hives for fall.  Should they have been left in until much colder weather?
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2013, 12:09:46 PM »

What a waste of resources.  They have to keep raising drones to make up for what you destroy and that costs them a frame of pollen, a frame of honey and a frame's worth of water to raise that frame of drones...

But back to the counts.  One Varroa per fifty drone cells is nothing.  Even in the spring it's nothing.  In the fall it's really nothing...

But that's not usually how people count, just another way they watch.  The typical counts are either a sugar roll of a cupful of bees or a natural mite drop.  You might try one of those to correlate with your open drone cells. 
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
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"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
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« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2013, 08:08:34 PM »

What a waste of resources.  They have to keep raising drones to make up for what you destroy and that costs them a frame of pollen, a frame of honey and a frame's worth of water to raise that frame of drones...

Thank you for your reply.  Your reasons for and opposition to the use of green drone frames is noted.

I went this route as the 24-hour drop tests were not producing mites.  Since the sugar roll and drop tests are for mites outside of the cells, I was looking for correlation to what might actually be in the cells, as well as to keep on top of them.  While I am a new beek, there have been hives in this exact location for eight years.  A count of zero varroa mites didn't seem plausible.

It seems that no system, chemical or IPM, is perfect for removal of varroa.  If the drone cells are infected at a much higher rate than the worker cells, and there was a high infestation rate, removing drone frames would seem to waste fewer of the bee resources than the bees opening and destroying many worker and drone cells.  Yes, they can certainly tell much better than I which of the cells are infected, and I will waste more drones than are infected.

I still have the questions of which pupae stages I should be looking at, and whether the immobile rust colored varroa are adults or daughters.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2013, 09:43:59 PM »

>Thank you for your reply.  Your reasons for and opposition to the use of green drone frames is noted.

Looking at it now it sounds harsh and I did not mean for it to... my reasons really are that there were no Varroa and yet the drones died anyway... at least if they were infested it might have accomplished something.

My actual biggest worry is that by using drone frames we are selecting for mites that prefer workers, which is the root of the problem in the first place...
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
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