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How you treat Varoa in a HTBH?
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Sep 02, 2014 11:14 pm    Post subject: How you treat Varoa in a HTBH? Reply with quote

For those that do, what are your methods and type of treatment? I have googled and found plenty of info with Langstroth but not with a HTBH.
Thanks Howie.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1567
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought you guys "down under" didn't have varroa!

But to answer your question, I've been 6 years treatment free but had a bad outbreak of Deformed Wing Virus which I assumed was due to varroa(the 2 usually go hand in hand and I use the DWV as a varroa indicator as I don't have mesh floors) a few weeks ago in my TBH. I did a shook swarm into a new hive and disposed of all the brood comb and harvested all the honey. I had planned to dust the shook swarm with icing sugar, but I didn't see the large associated varroa infestation I had expected and the process had already been extremely disruptive for the bees, so I left them to it.
The colony were very strong but now seem pretty demoralised and despite feeding they are not building much new comb, although the queen is laying. I also saw a baby bee with deformed wings being removed 2 days ago, so it obviously hasn't sorted that problem. Having said that, for a genuine high varroa mite infestation, the shook swarm and sugar dust should work if it's still early enough in the year for them to recover. I think I will probably try essential oil strings next time.

Allowing them to swarm is one of the key preventative factors in my opinion though. This is the first season I have had a hive that didn't swarm and in fact 2 of them didn't (I cannot comprehend this as it's never happened in 17yrs of keeping these bees and the weather has been superb) and I noticed the other one was also showing DWV yesterday, so I have a decision to make on that one next, but it is in a framed hive, so, as you discovered, the options are simpler.
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Barbara, thanks for your reply and I hope your two hives affected recover. interesting about the swarming connection and Bee health. yes unfortunately New Zealand has Varroa since 2006 and Bee keepers in New Zealand are struggling, already in many parts of New Zealand the mite is showing resistance to the synthetic chemical treatments and the subject is a hot topic amongst New Zealand Bee Keepers.
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Barbara
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Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry to hear that you've got them now too. All I can say is that there is hope, as it really doesn't seem to be as much of a problem now as it was when it first arrived. Having 2 brood breaks in the year is an important factor, in mine and many other people's opinion. Obviously winter is one and swarming season is the other. My bees love to swarm and throw many casts, and I have found that even when they have stopped, they still have a bit of a holiday before the new queen starts producing brood. I have practically written them off as queenless, when 40+ days after the prime swarm, there is still no brood and then I look a week later and they are off.

Of course this hugely affects honey production, but the bees survive the varroa untreated. I keep my bees for the love and fascination of it and if I get a bit of honey, it's nice to be able to give it away to friends and family and keep a little for myself of course. The situation for commercial producers is much more difficult. because they can't really afford to let the bees swarm.
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes it would be my aim to be treatment free and I certainly have no intention of using synthetic chemical treatments.
Correction: year 2000 when Varroa arrived in the North Island New Zealand.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RtHaDpZrOE

Found this video today, thought some may be interested. Treatment of a Top Bar Hive with Oxalic Acid.
cheers Howie
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rmcpb
Scout Bee


Joined: 17 Jul 2011
Posts: 447
Location: Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia

PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think only Australia and a few isolated islands don't have the virus. Its only a matter of time for us though.

We got the small hive beetle and I don't think the Kiwis have it yet.

Cheers
Rob.
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Fri Sep 05, 2014 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Rob,
yes as far as I know the hive beetle isn't here in NZ but as is the nature of the Global Market it won't be long, like you guys with Varroa Sad
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maskerade
House Bee


Joined: 17 Jan 2014
Posts: 11
Location: Norfolk

PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 3:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting the vid Howie, It is actually me who made it ( primarily to show how the bees react to OAV)

Happy to share the particulars to anyone who wants to give it a go, it cost next to nothing!

It is an ambition for me to be treatment free too but I personally don't think it is a problem to work towards that slowly while locating the right genetics and increasing colony numbers.
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sat Sep 06, 2014 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Maskerade, thanks for making the video and putting it on YouTube, yes please you would be very welcome to put the details of the process and also success or otherwise of this method of treatment with your bees on this topic . cheers Howie
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rays
House Bee


Joined: 09 Jul 2012
Posts: 24
Location: Vaud, Switzerland

PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here in Switzerland, probably most beekeepers follow the guidance provided by the Swiss Bee Research Centre using organic acids, which recommends one or two treatments using formic acid at the end of summer (according to the level of infestation measured by drop count of varroa on the bottom board) followed with a treatment of oxalic acid later in the year when there's no brood present so any varroa in the hive or on the bees are exposed. Since oxalic acid doesn't pass into capped cells, it is less effective than formic acid which does penetrate and kills off the varroa which are feeding off and developing on the larvae.

The rationale for the treatment timings is contained in the third document on this page and a summary of the methods used in conventional hives is in the second document on the same page.

For the formic acid treatments, I've adapted a standard "Apidea" dispenser by reducing its width from the three lines of holes down to two, and then adjusting the remaining openings accordingly to expose the same surface area of the internal sponge. The resulting modified tray fits snugly into the base of my "Phil Chandler style" top-bar hive, enabling me to administer the 85% formic acid recommend for effective treatment from below, as treating from above is clearly not an option in a top-bar hive.

My colony started out as a captured swarm in May 2013, and had quite high varroa counts at the end of summer last year. Following the treatment regime has resulted in a healthy, low incidence of varroa throughout this year. I have not resorted to culling drone brood cells, as that is pretty much impractical in natural comb, and I wouldn't wish to do so anyway. There is no denying that the formic acid treatment is visibly unpopular with my bees, which express their disquiet by congregating outside the entrance holes for the first few hours after I put the tray in. By dusk, they have settled back in and from the next morning, behaviour is back to normal, thankfully.

The oxalic treatment in late November/early December is carried out using a device for heating crystals in similar fashion to that illustrated in the aforementioned video in this thread.

Doubtless not everyone will agree here with applying treatment using organic acids in this way, but my purpose is to provide a straightforward answer to Howie's original question, based on my own experience of adapting conventional equipment and methods for use in my top-bar hive.

Similarly, after several failed, sticky attempts with containers and floating lollipop sticks etc. I now use a conventional round feeder which sits on an adapted end board which replaces the standard end board inside my hive whenever necessary. It is easy to manage and can be re-filled without the need to open the colony space itself, reducing disruption inside. It's in in constant use at the moment as we have had a very poor, damp, cool summer which has left many, many colonies with insufficient reserves for the winter. I take no harvest after early Spring but still my colony has been unable to gather sufficient for its needs, which is very worrying.

Adapting and using conventional equipment in this way has also helped other local beekeepers to understand that top-bar hives are practical and well suited as "garden hives" to be managed by someone like myself that has no interest in commercial production of any kind but just wants to use a low cost, simple way of increasing the number of bee colonies around.
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DocBB
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Joined: 14 Jul 2012
Posts: 29
Location: Réunion Island (Indian Ocean)

PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HowieNZ wrote:
Yes it would be my aim to be treatment free and I certainly have no intention of using synthetic chemical treatments.
Correction: year 2000 when Varroa arrived in the North Island New Zealand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RtHaDpZrOE

Found this video today, thought some may be interested. Treatment of a Top Bar Hive with Oxalic Acid.
cheers Howie


If you aim a (chemical) treatment free I would suggest the shook swarm, once in spring at beginning of the flow, and maybe a second time in case of a deep infestation after the sumer harvest, which is easy to do in a TBH.

Shake the bees in one end of the beehive, withdraw ALL the bars and combs : and let the hive rebuild new ones.

it is described as the "heroïc method"(La Méthode Héroïque in french) in abbé Warré's book and will get you rid of 90% of the mites each time.

First you have to count the mites fallings to objectify the degree of infestation
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 8:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you DocBB and rays, it is appreciated and great that as an international team we can work together for the health of the bees. I would like to think that it can be proven in many countries that bees can be kept with out the use of the likes of Bayvarol, Apivar and Apistan There is no doubt even organic methods and treatments currently available disrupt the bees but better than a dead hive. thanks HowieNZ
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maskerade
House Bee


Joined: 17 Jan 2014
Posts: 11
Location: Norfolk

PostPosted: Sun Sep 07, 2014 10:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, the method is adapted from this video , so follow instructions for making and application.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ALHz4B1vqKo

The trick is to have a 1" pipe or adapter to fit the standard winecork size holes. Then you can drill a hole below the window and close it with a winecork afterwards. I did this with bees inside and surprisingly they were not too bothered!

You can use oxalic acid when you have brood but as rays mentions it does not kill mites inside brood. This means you have to treat multiple times over the 21 day cycle, some do 3 times 7 days apart, some 4 times 5 days apart. During winter when broodless only 1 time is necessary.

I used 2 grams of OA each time bought from a beekeeping shop, something like £8 for 500g. The pipe could cost the same again or be free depending on what you have around. I used parts from the diy store; A short copper tube (17 mm x 200 mm) ,17mm copper end cap (solderless) and 17mm to 22mm converter (also solderless). Then you'll need a propane torch and definitely wear a respirator!

I went through the hive today, 3 days since the last treatment 20+ from the first, and and I have seen no damage at all, healthy brood and eggs all over...No residues or dead bees in the bottom either, I'm impressed so far. I will try and get another sugar roll next time to compare mite levels.

Here are some pics from the inspection if your interested Smile

https://plus.google.com/photos/104234417014633270359/albums/6056389287498360433
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon Sep 08, 2014 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Masqerade, the photos are excellent too, great looking comb. cheers HowieNZ.
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 11:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Periods of broodlessness can also be created by temporarily caging the queen. This is not something I have tried or intend to try but I believe Sam Comfort uses this method to help a colony reduce mite load. Short periods without brood may also free more bees for foraging.
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maskerade
House Bee


Joined: 17 Jan 2014
Posts: 11
Location: Norfolk

PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your welcome Howie, Do a powdered sugar roll first so you can get an idea of numbers, then decide from there Smile
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Has anyone done or read any research as to whether Oxalic Acid has a detrimental effect on a queens fertility? Thanks HowieNZ
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sun Sep 14, 2014 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is video I found on treating Varroa in a Top Bar Hive using Folic Acid http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvHIlYuA1IU
I thought the use of the sanitary product clever
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Smorning
Foraging Bee


Joined: 20 Aug 2013
Posts: 150
Location: Faversham Kent UK

PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't bother it's survival after all do we want to prop up bad genetics I adopt the Michael Bush approach
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon Sep 15, 2014 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, no treatment is one option, can I ask how long/longest you have kept a single hive alive treatment free? Thanks Howard.
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 12:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No treatment in itself "can" be a form of treatment. A lot of those that subscribe to a no treatment policy also subscribe to other similar principles.
eg allowing the colony naturally swarm, this we know is a means of reducing mite load on a colony and is therefore a "treatment". Managing the colony in such a way to minimise loss of heat and hive scent, again we know maintenance of correct brood temperature inhibits mite replication.
I am more from the no treatment camp myself BUT I feel we have to be a little careful. What we are dealing with, with the modern bee is not a wolf but very much a dog. Man has had such a strong hand in the selection of which bee strains and qualities are perpetuated and which aren't. By sentencing all bee colonies not immediately varroa "competent" to death would be a little like giving someone a dingy to get to the middle of the lake and then sticking a knife in it. It might take a generation or two, or three for them to learn to swim (as it were). These colonies may also have some valuable genetics providing resistance to other colony stresses which would be lost.
I am attempting to maintain a genetically diverse apiary in the first instance and observe how each colony copes with each stress ie varroa, dearth, winter, robbing, swarming etc etc. I will do what I can to give them a fighting chance but will not nurse along an obviously weak colony. Over time I hope for the genetics to sort themselves out. There will be phenotypes that win out but the overall pool should be sufficiently diverse to allow for adaptation under stress.
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
Posts: 33
Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 7:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi AugustC,
Do you let your colonies naturally swarm? My thinking which may be totally wrong, doesn't that actually load up the colony with a higher Varroa count percentage wise per number of bees left in the colony?
What strategies do you use in your top bar hive to maintain the higher temperature around the brood?
How are you minimising the loss of Hive scent?
The difficulty of the genetics from the little I think I know is that unless you can control which drones are mating with your maiden queens, you are always going to get a 50 % chance or less of improving resistance unless your apiary is very isolated?
Sorry about all the questions,
regards HowieNZ
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rays
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Joined: 09 Jul 2012
Posts: 24
Location: Vaud, Switzerland

PostPosted: Tue Sep 16, 2014 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howie,

As you are from NZ, I guess you have already reviewed this information provided locally? I share it here without opinion. Just adds to the available pool of information accessible, really.

Edit: Ummm... It would have been more useful if I had pasted the link to "this information" in correctly! Here it is below:

http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/pests-diseases/animals/varroa/paper/varroa-treatment-options.htm


Last edited by rays on Wed Sep 17, 2014 5:30 am; edited 1 time in total
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HowieNZ
Nurse Bee


Joined: 18 May 2014
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Location: Dunedin, New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 12:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Rays,
yes I read your earlier post and read the links as well, very much appreciated. Because Varroa is a relatively new in New Zealand compared to some other countries, the Bee Keepers here are still trying to get there heads around it from what appears in the posts in New Zealand Bee Keeping forums.
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Che Guebuddha
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Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1549
Location: Hårlev, Stevns Kommune, Denmark

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HowieNZ wrote:
Hi AugustC,
Do you let your colonies naturally swarm? My thinking which may be totally wrong, doesn't that actually load up the colony with a higher Varroa count percentage wise per number of bees left in the colony?
What strategies do you use in your top bar hive to maintain the higher temperature around the brood?
How are you minimising the loss of Hive scent?
The difficulty of the genetics from the little I think I know is that unless you can control which drones are mating with your maiden queens, you are always going to get a 50 % chance or less of improving resistance unless your apiary is very isolated?
Sorry about all the questions,
regards HowieNZ


Don't get trapped in the idea of an "isolated apiary". Erik Osterlund of Sweden is isolated and still he has losses. My old conventional mentor is also isolated and he treats for Varroa and yet his losses were 80% in 2012.

You retain the hive scent by opening the hive as less as possible and by having a solid hive bottom.

My good friend has kept bees in top bar hives for more than 6 years now treatment free without losses. Yes he lets them swarm.
He lives in the same climate as my old mentor yet they have different results.

By letting bees swarm they will have a brood break. No bee brood = no varroa brood.

Conventional beeks use mono-cell foundation. In TBHs bees build various cell size. We still don't know if smaller cell bees are the ones which maybe groom the colony, but we do know that Varroa prefers to lay eggs in larger cells.

I have been treatment free for 2 years without any losses. But this year I have moved house to an area laden with mono-crop agriculture. Let's see how my bees do this winter.

I'm sure that if bees have a healthy biodiverse diet, natural comb and brood break (swarming/splitting) they can co-adapt with Varroa as the study in Kenya shows.

So I guess it all depends on your location. If biodiverse you are one step ahaid. If agribusiness is surrounding you then soft treatments might be necessary ... based on observation like DWV (deformed wing virus) or varroa drop. I'm personally trying to keep my hands away from treatments. I will rather migrate my bees short distances to greener pastures than treat.
"Let thy medicine bee thy food, and thy food bee thy medicine"
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zaunreiter
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Joined: 26 Nov 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:
By letting bees swarm they will have a brood break. No bee brood = no varroa brood.


Another idea you can get trapped into. Very Happy

Varroa on it's original host reproduces in drone brood only, but there is no drone brood during nine month of the year in Cerana. Means: varroa is adapted to brood breaks of nine month.

To my experience, swarms do have more mites during the rest of the season than controls. I counted mites all year long and swarming hives always had slightly to significantly more mites than hives, that I have split. For me, swarming is no rescue when it comes to varroa. I reckon it is the opposite, since the mites react to swarming with increased reproduction before and after the swarming.

Bernhard
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Che Guebuddha
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Joined: 31 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not talking about the swarms perse but about the mother colony after the swarm (or split) has departed. Queen less Mother colony gets a much longer brood break than the queen right swarm or split.

Let's also take into account the worker bees born out of various cell size; we still have no scientists which researched hygienic behaviour between let's say a bee born in 4,9 or 5,0 mm cell and bee born in 5,1-5,2 mm cell.

All observation was done in mono-cell foundation hives as far as I know.

Of course we can't ignore the local environment which Bien depends on. Treating in mono crop environment maybe needed but as Barbara and my Swedish friend (and many more) demonstrate if bees have a pesticide free biodiversity they sure can manage varroa on their own bio-therms (brood break, natural comb)

We must take into account the locality before acting in any way.
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zaunreiter
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Che Guebuddha wrote:
about the mother colony after the swarm


Neither the prime swarm, nor the casts nor the mother colony benefits from swarming. I am talking about all three parts of swarming. I monitored all of these and all of them had increased varroa populations. In direct opposition to my expactions! I must admit, I hoped swarming would help with varroa, but it didn't. The opposite.

The mite is adapted to nine month brood breaks. A swarming induced brood break is far from being sufficient.
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DocBB
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Joined: 14 Jul 2012
Posts: 29
Location: Réunion Island (Indian Ocean)

PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DocBB wrote:
HowieNZ wrote:
Yes it would be my aim to be treatment free and I certainly have no intention of using synthetic chemical treatments.
Correction: year 2000 when Varroa arrived in the North Island New Zealand.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1RtHaDpZrOE

Found this video today, thought some may be interested. Treatment of a Top Bar Hive with Oxalic Acid.
cheers Howie


If you aim a (chemical) treatment free I would suggest the shook swarm, once in spring at beginning of the flow, and maybe a second time in case of a deep infestation after the sumer harvest, which is easy to do in a TBH.

Shake the bees in one end of the beehive, withdraw ALL the bars and combs : and let the hive rebuild new ones.

it is described as the "heroïc method"(La Méthode Héroïque in french) in abbé Warré's book and will get you rid of 90% of the mites each time.

First you have to count the mites fallings to objectify the degree of infestation


for the second shock (after he summer harvest) you'll need build combs as at this time they would not build new ones.

for exemple : 80% of your hives treated with shook swarm and 20% with formic acid, but saving combs from the harvest is not so easy with TBH than in framed Warré


Last edited by DocBB on Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Che Guebuddha
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Joined: 31 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 17, 2014 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe you Bernhard but don't you think that your results have also something to do with the harsh agri environment your bees are kept in?

Also the Varroa count was big in Kenya colonies tested in 2012 yet not even one colony tested had varroa related issues.

There must be more to varroa related issues than actual Varroa mite count.
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