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Author Topic: my natural tbh - varroa - small hive beetle- spring observation  (Read 758 times)
HomeSteadDreamer
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« on: March 01, 2014, 10:33:54 PM »

I started this thread because I kinda high-jacked a foundationless thread and would like some more discussion with tbeek and sawdust.  Anyone else can join in but I'd ask you don't tell me how I have to stop being natural or bash tb hives.

So back story.  Got packages from Wolf Creek, small cell, natural size.  I put them in a Top Bar hive of my own/hubby's invention but nothing out of the ordinary.

Last year they did good and we split to keep from swarming.  Think I still missed at least one swarm if not two.  I left them natural honey for the winter.  I did not change my oil trays before winter and that was a mistake.

Spring comes last week when I open the hive to peek inside there were quite a few small hive beetles and one hive had signs of varroa, including about 4 deformed wing / whitish bees.  We were losing light and warmth so we closed them up, changed the oil trays which were solid instead of liquid.

This week small hive numbers significantly down and spent the time to 'clear' the one frame they had corralled them on.  Only saw one deformed wing bee.  Did a sugar roll and counted 25 mites for 400 bees.  If I followed the calculations correctly that gave us 12.5 mites per hundred because we have capped brood so we had to double the mites for the calcs. Also the bees have been building new wax and are bringing in stores they seem to be expanding.

The hive is foundationless, top bar, on its second year, we don't put anything in contact with the bees or honey that we wouldn't put in our mouths, so not treatment free but along that line.  The bottom is screened with an oil tray underneath.  In my opinion the oil tray really works.  The hive is also built with the oil tray and screen bottom board enclosed so that any thing that wants in the hive has to go through the guarded (by bees) front door.  

Thank goodness this hive was originally just a split to hold a queen and slow down the swarm from my big hive so it has like 10 bars and only 6 of them right now by bees because over the winter I pulled out two combs to put in an internal feeder if needed (not needed). So tomorrow I intend to shake the bees off of the 6 frames and sugar roll and shake them to help knock back the varroa.  Then I'll pull out all the drones cells.

I have been toying with moving this hive or killing this hive off to prevent the varroa from spreading to the other hives which don't show signs of varroa.  Caveat my big hive I haven't cracked open yet but I do have observation windows which it is over 20 bars full of bees and the top bars are about the same as a lang deep.  Right now I don't have time to move it so I'll start with treatment.  This queen is an excellent layer but so is her daughter who keep the big hive.

I read about Thymol and I'm not sure I want to try that as it is toxic to the bees.  I also read heating the hive can kill off varroa, I might actually test that on my small hive.  

So really long but hopefully thorough post.  Let me know your helpful thoughts.
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Bush_84
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« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2014, 10:42:52 PM »

How about hop guard?  You'll want to apply successive treatments in order to knock them down effectively.  It is surely safe to use.  It is also something that most don't mind putting in their own mouth lol. 
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GSF
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« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2014, 05:41:33 AM »

One of the latest trends seems to be using an oxalic acid vaporizer. (not to be confused with pouring it on them or food grade mineral oil) From what I've read it seems to work out pretty good. I haven't had bees a full year yet but I've been treating using it. I have no past experience to compare it to. I still see DWV but I'm prone to believe it comes with the territory. Otherwise I have a (one) robust hive.

Don't get rid of your bees just because they have mites. Your other bees will end up getting them from the same place those bees got them from. Right now I'm concerned that using another treatment could knock off the queen. Hopefully others with some experience will jump in.

I've noticed that sometimes on a pretty weekend it may take a little longer to get several takes on a subject.
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Ken
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« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2014, 07:10:16 AM »

Strong hives without too much extra space  and beetle traps are probably your best defense.
  Beetles can fly,so screened bottom may probably does not help for that.It may be an entrance for the beetle that's unguarded. Small cell may or may not help with varroa but has little bearing on beetles. Splitting a hive with a strong beetle population may create it's peril.
The second and third year on a hive will require a lot of vigilance to stay ahead of the varroa, the first year any demise of a colony is usually other factors.
If you do splits, try not to depopulate the hive much.
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HomeSteadDreamer
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« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2014, 08:20:45 AM »

Strong hives without too much extra space  and beetle traps are probably your best defense.
  Beetles can fly,so screened bottom may probably does not help for that.It may be an entrance for the beetle that's unguarded. Small cell may or may not help with varroa but has little bearing on beetles. Splitting a hive with a strong beetle population may create it's peril.
The second and third year on a hive will require a lot of vigilance to stay ahead of the varroa, the first year any demise of a colony is usually other factors.
If you do splits, try not to depopulate the hive much.


Yeah the beetles are under control now.  I agree about the screen board being a way in that is why it is enclosed in a bottom tray that doesn't have an opening to the outside.  Right now my biggest issue is the varroa. I'll only be splitting if they out build the box and I'm working on their long box so they have a while before they need the split.  I'm hoping to finish their long box this week. This year I'm trying to get honey not more splits, 5 hives is plent, heck 2 or 3 would be fine for me.
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Joe D
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« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2014, 11:34:02 AM »

I have a TBH that is like yours, it has a screen bottom with and enclosed pan.  I would not kill a hive because it has varroa.  They will come in contact with varro while out among the flowers.  Just see how well they survive, you may have to treat. 
The oil tray can bee messy to clean and smell, last year I started putting water with dish washing liquid in mine.  In the summer if the water gets low I just added more water.  If it gets many SHB's or trash in it I dump and refill.  So far it has worked for me.  Good luck to you and your colonies.




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GSF
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« Reply #6 on: March 03, 2014, 05:02:59 AM »

Well dah,

Joe I never thought of that, thanks for the post. I can slow down on my fried foods now.
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HomeSteadDreamer
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« Reply #7 on: March 03, 2014, 07:40:10 AM »

Just a little update.  I went into my big hive today.  They too have varroa but no sign of deformed wing virus yet.  I cut out some drone cells and uncapped others.  Mites in about 50% of some of the patches of drone cells.  It is of course harder to cut out drones from foundationless, a downside.  Both hives are building wax and bringing in lots of nectar and pollen. 

I took the smaller hive and shook the frames and sugar rolled most of the hive to encourage cleaning. and cut out some drone cells.

With both of them with mites I am going to look at possible natural treatments perhaps hop guard or others.  I'll be working over the next two to three weeks to reduce the mite population down so that I see no deformed wing virus and that a sugar roll comes out with less than 10 per 100.

Both hive had less than 10 small hive beetles so the fresh oil trays seem to be working there.  They may help with the mites too.

I am not going to shake and roll my whole big hive so now I have to determine how important it is to keep the powdered sugar out of open cells.  I can sugar the bees on the frames but open cells would get sugar in them.

Being in Florida the varroa can be a serious problem so this year will definately be a whole new learning curve.
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Ken
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« Reply #8 on: March 03, 2014, 01:18:05 PM »

Varroa can be a serious problem in any hive.Your varroa numbers are high enough to literally explode if you have that many this early. Deformed wings are an after effect of infestation, not the indicator. Once you have a lot ofbees with deformed wings it may be too late.
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HomeSteadDreamer
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« Reply #9 on: March 03, 2014, 02:59:31 PM »

My large hive doesn't have any deformed wing and the small hive last week only had 4, this week only 1.  I am keeping an eye on it.  I do realize that this is a perilous situation but they seem to be doing ok if that makes any sense.  They have plenty of brood, they have eggs and larva, they are bringing in pollen and honey and they are building new wax. I did buy natural survivor bees so I'm worried but a little curious about how they seem to be doing ok with high mite loads.

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Bush_84
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« Reply #10 on: March 03, 2014, 04:01:50 PM »

I've used hopp guard with success even in a tbh.  I used two treatments, but looking back...I'd do three if I had to do it again.  You'll see lots of mites drop. 

Not sure if you have said this already or not, but why keep the screen bottom?  I know you said that you keep the bottom closed to keep beetles from getting in, but having a screen is then useless.  It only allows a place for the hive beetles to hide out unmolested. 
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HomeSteadDreamer
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« Reply #11 on: March 03, 2014, 04:22:43 PM »

The bottom screen is actually the opposite.  I have oil trays under the screen.  The hive beetles will drop down in the oil and die.  Mites drop down and die.  In florida if you have an open screen bottom then the beetles can use that to get in but with the oil trays and it being enclosed it works well for letting things drop and die.  When I keep oil in the trays I have a very small number of hive beetles.  It was only this winter I didn't do a good oil change and they got crusted up so then they weren't working. grin
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