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Author Topic: varroa count  (Read 1727 times)
Rabbitdog
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« on: April 15, 2006, 04:57:14 PM »

Greetings all,
I have started putting 1 blank frame in the brood box of each hive (as seen on the IWF videos).  Today, I removed this frame from 1 colony.  It was completely drone comb created by the bees and completely filled and capped.  
I removed about 20 bees at various stages of development but only found 2 varroa mites.  So the question is, do I have a major varroa problem?
Also, is this an effective way to measure varroa infestation?  How many cells should I count?
Thanks much!
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2006, 11:14:25 PM »

>I removed about 20 bees at various stages of development but only found 2 varroa mites. So the question is, do I have a major varroa problem?

No.  If you find several varroa in most of the cells you have a major varroa problem.

>Also, is this an effective way to measure varroa infestation?

It works pretty well.

> How many cells should I count?

I think you did about right.  20 or so is a pretty good test.

I'd be tempted to give it back to them since there aren't really a lot of Varroa in the drones.  It will save the bees the work of making more.
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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
gsferg
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« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2006, 09:19:19 AM »

I've heard various recommendations concerning threshold levels of infestation in drone brood, the most recent being from the Maine state apiariest who said that 10% was his own personal threshold for treating- he cited finding 5 cells with varroa out of 50. For what it's worth, find 2 out of 20 is also 10% so I gather, if you were him, then you'd treat. Since "treating" in this case involves simply removing the frame of drone brood, I see little reason NOT to remove it.

Off the top of my head I think there's about 4900 drone cells on both sides of a deep frame so fully capped, there's potentially about 500 varroa in your comb. I'd personally be inclined to pull the comb. Taking 500 mites out of your hive this time of year would be a big downer for the mite population explosion. If left to hatch, upwards of 1300 mites could emerge; and so it goes.

Michael is quite right- the bees WANT drones, as many as 10% of the population in a healthy happy hive so it's important that you let them raise some.

In any case, you need to monitor your mite population either with sugar shakes or 24 hour drop counts so you have an idea of what their numbers are doing. It could well be that Michael is right- that the mite population isn't anything to sweat about NOW and you could leave the drones in to complete their development and emerge. In other words, 3 weeks or a month from now you might be able to trap a lot more mites in that same comb. I'm not questioning that. However, without an idea of the mite population trend in your hive now, I personally don't think I could pass up the opportunity to yank so many mites so early in the season.

George-
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Rabbitdog
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« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2006, 08:16:55 PM »

Thank you both.  The frame is in the freezer.  I will return it upon the next visit and opening of the hive.
I'm going to make a real effort to avoid the Apistan this fall in most (if not all) of my 8 colonies.  I'm using the "drone frame exchange" now and plan on setting up a swarm on small cell foundation.  Also, I will be using powered sugar dusting with SBBs on as many as I can get to.
Thanks again for the info.  I was very glad to get some good news.
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2006, 11:06:27 PM »

Back when I had a lot of Varroa, I'd find three or four in ,pst every drone cell.  And that's the purple ones.
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Michael Bush
My website:  bushfarms.com/bees.htm
My book:  ThePracticalBeekeeper.com
-------------------
"Everything works if you let it."--Rick Nielsen
gsferg
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2006, 08:27:07 AM »

>I'd find three or four in ,pst every drone cell.

You know how to do varroa right :)
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