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Author Topic: Varroa  (Read 4047 times)
HomeSteadDreamer
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« on: March 06, 2014, 08:29:12 AM »

I'm going natural/organic if possible. When I cracked my hive this spring for the first time I could see signs of varroa including 4 Deformed Wing Virus bees.  I had let my oil traps go over the winter so i replace with fresh oil. A sugar roll of 1/2 cup of bees shook out 25 mites.  I then rolled my whole hive (it was a small hive).

I have been reading and I'm not sure what I am going to or should do.  I don't want to use thymol.  I am not sure I want to use hopguard.  My bees are already starting to make new wax and lay in nectar.  I'm also worried that because I have a top bar hive that I'll get the dose wrong and kill my bees.  IF it was winter I might try the hop guard but I don't intend to at this point.

The two choices I've come up with is leave them alone they are putting on new wax and seem to have lots of brood ( I know that could be a diaster).

The other choice is trying sugar dusting. Since I have brood I'd dust every 2-5 days to try and knock down the phoretic mites before they get in the larval chambers.

Any one try the sugar on a more regular basis for mite knockdown in spring?  I did notice the sugar makes them lose their pollen baskets too.
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HomeSteadDreamer
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« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2014, 08:42:17 AM »

I should have mentioned.  I have natural cell bees on foundationless top bars.  This is my colonies 2nd year.
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danno
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« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2014, 09:08:44 AM »

"25 mites in a 1/2 cup of bee's"   The count down clock is ticking and with the deformed wings might have already ran out of time
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tefer2
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2014, 09:31:19 AM »

The varroa build up the second season is what does in most treatment free hives.
Deformed wings, means you have problems already.  huh
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HomeSteadDreamer
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2014, 10:35:38 AM »

I do know that the deformed wing is bad especially this early in the season.  The second week I went in there was only one bee with deformed wing.  I'll be going in this weekend and will see how the loads are looking in addition to the sugar dusting of all bees last weekend I also removed the drone comb that I found.  There were lots of mites in the drone cells.  Yet the hive is putting on new wax and seems to be busy.  I'm leaning toward the sugar treatment.  Someone on scientific bees reported dusting everyday for 5 days reduced their mites but that was going into winter so I'm think every 2-5 days for like 4 weeks. Fortunately I'm a hobbyist and the hive is in my backyard so I can get out there as needed but it is late in the day when I can get out there.
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T Beek
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« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2014, 07:36:34 AM »

You could begin a regimen of removing, freezing and replacing some drone comb when found.  It has been successful with 'limiting' varroa, but keep in mind that all hives have some, the best colonies IMO; are those that have 'learned' to co-exist with varroa. 

The goal with 'treatment free' is just that, raising treatment free bees from your winter survivors, and allowing bees to determine success by their own means….as much as is possible  Wink

Personally, while I don't treat (Chem Free since 2007) I draw the line at not allowing them to starve.  Feeding is about the only 'un-natural' thing introduced to my bees…by me anyway  laugh.  No telling what my girls bring home...        ..NOT telling anyone how to do anything…just what I'm doing.  Smiley
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HomeSteadDreamer
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« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2014, 08:01:06 AM »

TBeek, I'm with you.
  I don't really want to treat but I don't have many hives.  These bees have displayed some hygenic behavior so the small hive I think I'm going to try sugar dusting and the large hive I think I"m doing to only do drone removal/leave them alone.  I read somewhere that the hygenic behavior maybe alot more prevalent as the weather warms so we'll see.  I only have 3 hives (hubby has 2 so we are a 5 hive family).  I have two that are showing lots of varroa and the other started as a weak hive, late swarm in a lang.  Hubby has one that is showing signs and the other seems to not be but only been in that hive once this year and it being his hive I didn't get a good look.  I took frames of brood from his hive to boost up my weak lang hive but I'm not swapping frames from the varroa hives.  I try to let them keep enough of their own honey to not feed.  The weak lang hive I have fed but my two other hives, the ones with varroa I haven't had to feed. I was able to take a little honey off the big hive this spring that they didn't use over the winter.  They are now laying in new nectar, last week they had two large TB frames of nothing but new nectar.

One of these hives has a daughter queen(local open mated) and the other has an original Wolf creek queen. So I think I'm going to try to knock the varroa back with the sugar dusting/drone removal and then see how they do as the weather warms up.  We are still up and down right now with today's high in the 50's tonight 38 degrees and tomorrow being 74 degrees. 

I'd LOVE to try to just leave them and hope they survive but I'm afraid I don't want to lose all my hives.  I could take losing one, and I have expect to lose the late swarm hive from last year.  I was really surprised they made it through winter.  I'm just a chicken and you can't get local survivor bees if you kill all your hives and have to start over.   angry
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T Beek
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« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2014, 08:30:40 AM »

Five full colonies and three NUC's are what I went into winter with.  Its supposed to get into the 40's the next couple days.  After 71, mabe 72 days below zero its been one of the toughest winters I've experienced keeping bees. 

TBH; I'll be delighted to have any survivors at all  Smiley ….won't know until tomorrow or the next day (we've got freezing rain today…on top of 3 plus feet of snow….fun, fun  Smiley………Spring is in the air….finally...
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RC
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« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2014, 11:15:09 AM »

With 25 mites to a half cup of bees, you may want to bite the bullet and try something a little more powerful than sugar. I understand you want to be treatment free, but that means nothing if it makes you bee-free.
A few fleas on my dog doesn't bother me, but I wouldn't let them kill him.
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buzzbee
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« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2014, 12:36:20 PM »

Whatever way you go, remember that mites increase exponentially. 2 to 4 to 8 to 16 . that many mites in first year hives does not sound hygenically traited to me.  i know a lot of people that survive year one with their hives only to be overloaded with mites year two, then succumb in year three.
 Either break the brood cycle by removing the queen, sugar dust or something, but the mites will take advantage of dong nothing.
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danno
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« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2014, 01:01:43 PM »

 Feral colonies around here almost NEVER make it through there 2nd winter. 
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Edgy
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« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2014, 09:39:28 PM »

Whatever way you go, remember that mites increase exponentially. 2 to 4 to 8 to 16 . that many mites in first year hives does not sound hygenically traited to me.  i know a lot of people that survive year one with their hives only to be overloaded with mites year two, then succumb in year three.
 Either break the brood cycle by removing the queen, sugar dust or something, but the mites will take advantage of dong nothing.
Buzzbee; could you tell me what you mean by breaking the brood cycle?  What are the specifics?  Hope this isn't too dumb of a question.  Thanks
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HomeSteadDreamer
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« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2014, 09:51:18 PM »

Whatever way you go, remember that mites increase exponentially. 2 to 4 to 8 to 16 . that many mites in first year hives does not sound hygenically traited to me.  i know a lot of people that survive year one with their hives only to be overloaded with mites year two, then succumb in year three.
 Either break the brood cycle by removing the queen, sugar dust or something, but the mites will take advantage of dong nothing.
Buzzbee; could you tell me what you mean by breaking the brood cycle?  What are the specifics?  Hope this isn't too dumb of a question.  Thanks

I'm sure Buzzbee will be back but my understanding is you simply stop brood rearing for a certain amount of time since varroa can not reproduce without brood.  You can take brood frames and freeze them or you can split like a package where they have to raise a queen or build wax before brooding again.

I will try to keep you guys up to date on how thing go.  I'll be doing a sugar roll each week to keep track of the mite count.
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Edgy
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« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2014, 10:06:09 PM »

So I'm guessing the hive would have to be pretty strong in order to go without brood for a spell.  Correct?
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T Beek
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« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2014, 07:19:47 AM »

You don't want to take just 'any' brood frames, and you don't take them all.  Only those frames w/ mostly 'drone' brood as mites will be most prevalent in drone brood comb.  Just a few frames from each infested colony, depending on size.  REMOVING and Freezing these frames overnight 'breaks' the cycle.  Returning them the next day will provide nourishment as bees clean up the bodies.

With BIG infestations, it may have to be done several times during a season.

Creating 'artificial' swarms (making splits, NUC's ) or 'allowing' bees to swarm also 'breaks' the cycle and has the added benefit of making increase 'if' that is what you seek.  While a colony is queenless or in transition, varroa can't do their thing.

Some Beeks think varroa is such a problem 'because' we spend so much time preventing swarms (maybe allowing our bees to swarm away for a few seasons would help?……)   Undecided ……but there may be something to it 'only known' by the bees…….just saying  Wink
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HomeSteadDreamer
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« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2014, 03:40:04 PM »

Update- 

First if I'm going to give good observation it will be easier with good names

Lang is a weak langstroth hive that was a swarm hived last fall 2013 and has never shown much but is alive.  If the queen doesn't start a good lay pattern in a few weeks then I'm requeening with the first queen cell I can find.  This hive does have a lot of aborted brood at the bottom so I don't know if they are more hygenic or just low on resources or if their brood got chilled and died.  Didn't see signs of varroa but didn't roll they don't have many bees and they will be left to survive or not.

Nuc  top bar nuc with a champion layer.  strong. started June 1 2013

TBH top bar hive about 45" long and wide enough to super if needed.  strong with an observation window. started spring 2013


Nuc - 2/22 first peek, noticed 4 deformed wing virus (DWV) and lots of varroa, oil trays gunked and not working, replaced,  hive looks strong
3/1  no DWV  sugar roll  25 mites / 1/2 cup, hive looks strong new white wax
3/2  sugar rolled whole hive, killed lots of drone comb, 50% of drones larva had mites in cells
3/8  no DWV, sugar roll 7 mites to alittle less than 1/2 cup,  killed lots of drone larva less then 50% of drones had mites still quite a few though. Hive looks strong, new white wax

TBH
3/1  went through hive, 1 DWV, signs of mites, killed some drones 50% had mites, hive looks strong new white wax. oil trays gunked and not working replaced.
3/8  went through hive, 0 DWV, sugar toll 16 mites to 1/2 cup bees, killed almost all drone larva 50% or more had mites. Hive looks strong but girls carrying out dead drones, small pile of bees in front of entrance mostly drones.

Waiting on duster I ordered to make dusting the hive very painless.

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buzzbee
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« Reply #16 on: March 09, 2014, 07:36:15 AM »

Let us not confuse treatment free and manipulation free either.Treatment for the most part assumes using a chemical component to achieve a desired outcome.
Manipulation can be done such as removing drone comb, splitting hives, checker boarding(per another topic in the main forum) as well as just removing the queen  and a couple frames of bees and banking them for a short period of time.
Temporarily removing the queen is a brood break that will slow the growth of varroa within your colony as the broodless period will create a period of time where the mites have nowhere to complete the mating cycle.
Beekeepers do help propagate the mite cycle in the interest of honey production. Bees would have a natural brood break during the swarm process as the new colony that departs the hive will be without brood until they become established, and the old colony is broodless until the new queen has matured and starts laying. We as beekeepers try to limit the swarm cycle, thus allowing the varroa to continue their population growth without some sort of intervention. The varroa population continues on the upswing ,peaking much later than the peak of the colony size. Thus putting the varroa load at critical levels when the bees need to start their preparations for autumn. This can result in hives going into winter with a strong varroa population at a time when bees need healthy brood to raise as bees that will be overwintering. It also gives the varroa a head start on the new colony going into the following spring. This leads to many a new beekeepers into a false sense of security when they get through the first winter and think they now have survivor bees. Varroa can hide under the radar until the second or third year if all other factors are in the bees favor,such as good nutrition and good weather.
So just be diligent with watching the mite loads. Don't let it get to overwhelming proportions as at that point manipulations nor chemical intervention may save your hive.
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Edgy
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« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2014, 05:42:31 PM »

Thanks for the explanation buzzbee!
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HomeSteadDreamer
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« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2014, 05:46:02 PM »

Well I consider the sugar as treatment (just something I would put in my mouth) and of course the removal of drone manipulation.  So at least this year this hive isn't going to achieve my goal because I'd like treatment free.  I have always manipulated to try and avoid swarming, by adding empty bars in the brood nest.  Giving weak hives resources and splitting.  If I continue to have mite problems after a full life cycle (about a month) then I'll try another study I read that indicated lemon juice (50%) cut with sugar syrup knocked mites back about 80% with virtually no impact on bee/larva death.  Quite an interesting study.  They didn't have brood so I expect a longer treatment cycle to be effective with either treatment.


I was encouraged by the drop in total mites on this latest sugar roll.  I also removed a lot of drone cells and found many mites hiding in the drone cells. After my duster arrives on Tuesday (hopefully) I'll probably only remove drone cells every 2 weeks since they are in the cell for 2 weeks I should still get most of them.  It was time consuming to remove drone cells from foundationless frames.  I did find a spoon worked fairly well. I upgraded to a grapefruit spoon which has a little bit of serration. I also have some nice forceps for the job.  My hubby rolled his hives today and had fairly low mite counts 3 and 4 per 1/2 cup.  One of his hives though I think is queenless so we took a frame of eggs from his other hive just in case.  They might have swarmed their numbers seemed low.  With both his hives with smaller mite counts when / if we need queens we'll be using his hives to make them   grin

I am just lucky I'm a hobbyist because I know that as a commercial beek I couldn't put this much time into any treatment.  On the upside I also know that so far (knock on wood) my hive hasn't had anything put in it that I wouldn't put in my mouth.  I garden, keep bees, keep chickens with the whole goal of making better food for my family.  I know where they forage probably has some pesticide, herbicides and such which isn't a pleasant thought but it is worth the effort and I'm beside a fairly natural lake with lots of natural landscaping so I'm sure it is less than say the orange groves or the almond fields.
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Jim 134
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« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2014, 08:40:34 PM »

Varroa control, breaking the brood cycle and SARE Grant Findings
Something that you might like to watch.


Erin MacGregor-Forbes: Practical Backyard Queen Rearing on Vimeo



                   BEE HAPPY Jim 134 Smiley
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