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Varroa Monitoring

 
Alison Thomas
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I'd like to know about sticky boards. Can one just use olive oil or equivalent or does it need to be something more like Vaseline? I have a screen floor but no drawer. Where would I put the sticky board? If in the hive on top of the screen would the bees too get stuck or sullied by the 'sticky', and would the bees remove the mites? If on the outside of the hive under the screen then how would I attach the sticky plate?
 
tel jetson
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under the screen for sure. the specifics of how to place it will depend on the particular design of your floor.

I've never tried it, but I would guess that olive oil would work fine.
 
Alison Thomas
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Thanks tel, I put the sticky boards under the screens late yesterday afternoon. I've just had a peek (that's about 12 hrs) but I can't see any mites there yet. I have a few bees coming out of both hives with almost no wings (maybe 2 or 3 a day that I can see). I conclude that they have Deformed Wing Virus and, as I understand it, this virus is transmitted by arthropods (eg varroa mites) so the mites must be in the hive. Will DWV wipe out the colony?
 
tel jetson
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depends on the vigor of the colony and how well it is adapted to handle the situation. varroa and varroa-associated pathogens are serious issues, but they don't necessarily spell certain death.

it can be difficult not to fret at even the smallest indication that a colony isn't completely healthy, but it's a surprisingly resilient species and many problems turn out to be well within their ability to deal with. obviously the trick is knowing the difference between a minor problem and one that threatens the survival of any one colony, and that's not easy and doesn't come quickly.

personally, I would error on the side of not treating, but I also know that it was quite an ordeal for you to get the colonies you're working with and leaving them to their own devices might not be particularly appealing to you.
 
Rick Larson
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Alison Thomas wrote:Thanks tel, I put the sticky boards under the screens late yesterday afternoon. I've just had a peek (that's about 12 hrs) but I can't see any mites there yet. I have a few bees coming out of both hives with almost no wings (maybe 2 or 3 a day that I can see). I conclude that they have Deformed Wing Virus and, as I understand it, this virus is transmitted by arthropods (eg varroa mites) so the mites must be in the hive. Will DWV wipe out the colony?


I have three hives with the same problem. One I took the queen away from the main hive which requeened itself, with the old queen and attendants getting heavily sprayed with the lemon juice mix. They both should make it. Another I took the queen away and made them requeen, but the mites are still wreaking havoc - this one is iffy. The other I did nothing and the bees are almost gone because the mites laid eggs in nearly every worker cell - it looks really bad.

I also switched the three Russian Bee colonies over to a solid bottom board today - from a screened board - and there wasn't a trace of a mite in the three hives, and they are as clean as a whistle! Took 3 medium supers full of lucsious dark fall wild flower honey too boot. Best honey of the year as far as I'm concerned.
 
Alison Thomas
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tel jetson wrote:depends on the vigor of the colony and how well it is adapted to handle the situation. .

How could I tell this? They are still very actively foraging - even though it's been raining here for 4 days, they still fly and 2 hours of dry this afternoon has seen both colonies go nuts. The C&C seems to be quite a hygenic colony, even bringing out not-quite-right alive bees and dumping them on the grass a distance from the hive. They've chucked out a few pupae, about 4 to my knowledge. There are about 10-15 dead bees in front of the hive each day but I'm guessing that this is normal. One of the hives still has drones coming and going with no hindrance from the workers.

tel jetson wrote:
it can be difficult not to fret at even the smallest indication that a colony isn't completely healthy, but it's a surprisingly resilient species and many problems turn out to be well within their ability to deal with. obviously the trick is knowing the difference between a minor problem and one that threatens the survival of any one colony, and that's not easy and doesn't come quickly

Wish it would hurry up, I lose a lot of sleep over 'my' bees.

tel jetson wrote:
personally, I would error on the side of not treating, but I also know that it was quite an ordeal for you to get the colonies you're working with and leaving them to their own devices might not be particularly appealing to you.

Yes it was and I'd really like to do everything I can to help them get to Spring. They both have sufficient stores (cooo those baggage weighing scales are just perfect for that!), solid floors are on, mouse guards in place. Would they still have brood? If not, can the adults make it through with varroa mites on them or will the mites kill them over Winter? The mites obviously wreck havoc with brood but if there isn't any now, if I treat now am I just shortening the lifespan of the winter bees that are already functioning perfectly? Would I now be best to wait until Spring and see if there are still signs of DWV in new hatchees and treat then if necessary? I'd like to err on the side of not treating (and maybe I have even left it too late though next week is supposed to dry, sunny and warm - 18-20C) but I don't want to lose the bees through not helping them in the name of the greater good. I'm aiming towards that greater good but I need to be a guardian of bees for a bit longer before I can be brave enough to shrug my shoulders and say that's Nature's way. I mean, if I don't have any bees then I can't help them to get stronger can I?

Oh, and the sticky boards had about 35 mites on in total over a period of 3 days.
 
tel jetson
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Alison Thomas wrote:
Oh, and the sticky boards had about 35 mites on in total over a period of 3 days.


I think the most effective way to monitor mite levels is to measure mite drop over time. if, over the course of the foraging season, your colonies start with really low numbers, then gradually increase to where you're at now by October, then the numbers are low again the next season, you've likely got a sustainable situation where your bees are able to deal with the mites. if, on the other hand, the numbers just keep going up and up at an increasing rate, you would likely have a problem.

obviously that kind of long-term data isn't available to you in your first year, but 35 mites in 3 days doesn't seem too bad to me. one of my colonies appeared to be having some pretty serious trouble with mites early this year. it was dropping rather more mites than the colony you checked, but then it threw a couple of strong swarms and a third smaller swarm and sprang back to health over the summer. all that swarming left the population pretty low, but the mite problem seems to have resolved itself for the time being.

since your colonies have adequate stores for the winter, and because brood rearing will stop soon if it hasn't already, my hunch is that they'll make it through the winter just fine. please seek advice from other beekeepers, too, though, since I'm on the other side of the world from you, and my experience here might not mean much for your bees and your locale.


regarding assessing vigor: it's just another one of those things that comes with experience. I don't know of any metrics used to determine how strong a colony is, but there may well be some out there. personally, I just sort of compare a colony with how active others have been at that age.

got to run now, but I'll try to answer your other questions later this evening.
 
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