I won't do it, I haven't medicated at all either. There are natural techniques to employ that will handle the mites, which in turn keep your bees healthy. I have successfully used a lemon juice method on bees that don't take care of themselves very well, have broke the brood cycle - halting the mite cycle, and have a very tough strain of Russian Bees that have taken care of themselves very, very well.
This guy's advice is driven by the numbers, a profit motive, and profit motive is why the ecology is in such retreat right now. Please don't do that!
I know that it's not for everyone, but my own preference is for non-treatment with very few exceptions. by leaving the bees to their own devices, adaptation to varroa and other bee troubles is allowed to take place. any treatment of ailing colonies will almost certainly encourage virulence of the microörganism(s) involved and perpetuate the need to continue treatment in the future. the obvious downside of non-treatment is that some colonies will be lost, but from my point of view, the benefits are far greater. most notably, colonies that are not well adapted to local conditions are removed from the breeding pool and the local population as a whole ends up in better shape and individual colonies will be more likely to survive without treatment. starting with feral swarms generally gives a pretty good head start toward that goal.
there are a number of folks who advocate this approach dogmatically, but I'm not among them. for example, when trying to increase the number of colonies early on, it generally wouldn't make a whole lot of sense for me to let my one hive fail in the name of non-treatment.
I also try to avoid opening hives except to harvest. depending on weather, hive construction, colony vigor/size, and the nature of the intervention, it can be four days or more before a colony can return the hive environment to the condition they prefer. if the hive environment is considered to be part of the bees' immune system, several days is plenty of time for pathogens or pests to take advantage of a compromised immune system. the result is that treatment of almost any kind can have the result of further weakening a colony instead of helping it to heal.
I've likely said all this before elsewhere on the forum, and I apologize for repeating myself. there are plenty of beekeepers who I respect who treat using more natural and hopefully more benign options. I'm not trying to talk anyone out of that approach, just to add a somewhat unconventional option to everybody's beekeeping repertoire.
regarding the method originally posted: seems foolish, cruel, and wasteful to me.
Collin Vickers wrote:Hey Rick, could you describe some of the methods you're using, such as the lemon juice technique you mentioned?
It was an experiment in Turkey that used the acid in citrus juice to kill the mites. They used various mixtures but the mix that killed just a few bees versus mites (82%) was half of the mix concentrated juice and a 50/50 mix of sugar to water. Just spray all the bees with a fine mist squirt bottle. The bees immediately start to groom themselves and each other and I think this wakens them to the problem as well. I have used it this year on the hives where the bees wouldn't take care of themselves because I just got started and didn't want to lose 5 of my 6 hives in this second summer. I have two successful splits off of the treated hives and two splits from the Russian mother, these are taking care of themselves (so far).
I believe this is a natural method to help the bees out, but do think it is better the bees handle it themselves. Afterall, all the bees would all be spending time and energy cleaning themselves from pests and disease had humans not put them into high intensity production (kinda like just about every farm animal?).
Here is a short video of the Russian mother, I had taken her from the main hive along with nurse bees, to start anew.
I have heard of other methods as well, for verroa mites:
- Vaporized food grade mineral oil, applied once every three weeks
* Supposed to suffocate the mites by coating the bees and depriving them of air
- Powdered sugar
* Supposed to work by same means Rick mentioned concerning lemon juice
For small hive beetle:
- Credit card sized pieces of cardboard or plastic politician ad signs, (the point is to have numerous, small tube-like cells, too small for the bees to enter, coat one end of 'tunnels' with vegetable shortening, fill the interior cavity with a mixture of boric acid and powdered sugar, cap the other end with more shortening.
* The beetles will be attracted to the shortening, eat the contents of the tunnel and die, being herded inside the cavities by natural instincts of bees.
* I've seen instances where diotomaceous earth was used in place of the boric acid.
For tracheal mites:
- Essential oils of winter green or spear mint added to sugar solution, fed to the bees, (I'm not sure what the ratios are supposed to be - I've heard that a pint jar of the essential oil can treat 500 hives).
- Avoid disturbing the hive too often
- (Seems to me that a big advantage of the KTB hive with a removable bottom board is that the keeper can lay down under the hive, as you would when working on a car, inspect comb formation/queen cell formation and bee activity, and close it up without breaking any propolis seals or risking rolling bees between combs.)
- Let the bees build fresh comb each season
- Healthy hives will largely keep them in check
- If feeding sugar solution, only use small quantities the bees will consume in a week or so
- Use the coke-bottle trap method to trap them, (cut plastic bottle in half, invert top inside of bottom, fill with an inch or two of cheap soda pop)
- Diotomaceous earth around base of hive to keep out ants and other terrestrial insects, including hive beetle
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