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varroa-mite treatment

 
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freebee
House Bee


Joined: 09 Dec 2015
Posts: 23
Location: The Neterlands, Leeuwarden

PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 3:34 pm    Post subject: varroa-mite treatment Reply with quote

I read an article about varroa-mite treatment with lemon juice and sugar sirop.
Does anyone of you know anything about this? Tests show a nearly 83% mite fall when colonies were treated five times, once every six days by using 5 ml of each treatment per frame of bees (bees filling the inter-space between two frames end to end), spraying directly onto the bees. They used a 50% concentration of lemon juice (V/V) with sugar syrup 1:1 (W/V).
I would like to try it, because it is natural, but I am not sure what they mean with the volumes
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1565
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 7:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have not read anything about it and perhaps it is another useful method for dealing with varroa.

I think you have to be careful about what you consider "natural" though. Most chemicals are naturally occurring including oxalic acid, formic acid, thymol and now citric acid which presumably is the active ingredient in this case from the lemon juice. It is however not natural to put these chemicals in the hive even if they are naturally occurring or derived, rather than synthesized. I'm not saying not to use it, but just maybe not to convince yourself that it is somehow good or better for the bees because it is "naturally occurring" in plants or fruit or nature. Many medicines have their background in natural remedies, but the synthesized medical version is usually more effective and easier to administer.

Opening up the hive every 6 days and drizzling acidic lemon syrup over them may be no better than opening the hive once in winter and drizzling oxalic acid over them or dusting them with icing sugar or treating them with thyme oil or fogging them with winter green or whatever treatment you choose.

I think the important thing is to be sure you need to treat them before you put anything "foreign" into the hive.

Just my thoughts....
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freebee
House Bee


Joined: 09 Dec 2015
Posts: 23
Location: The Neterlands, Leeuwarden

PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 6:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thank you for your comment, it makes me think twice!
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1565
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I said, I'm not trying to deter you from treating your bees if they need it or trying this particulalr treatment.... I have used synthesized chemicals in the past, so it is not for me to criticise, just wanting you to be sure you need to treat before you put things in the hive that don't really belong there and to weigh up all the issues and possible drawbacks before opting for one treatment over another.

I would hope that others have some input...... it's always beneficial to have a number of views aired so that productive discussion can lead us all in the right direction.....

Anyone....?
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catchercradle
Golden Bee


Joined: 31 May 2010
Posts: 1487
Location: Cambridge, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I feel, I am out of date with all the treatment regimes, having not treated for several years now despite the bee inspector's telling a fellow beek that a hive had a heavy infestation. They did treat their hive but the same one has now gone two years without treatment.

Like Barbara, my first question is always, do they need treating? If they do then I will probably go down the oxalic acid route in winter though I do have two single treatment packs of thymol left from my treatment days. It is worth looking at more than just the mite drop when assessing the need for treatment.

The main thing I look out for is significant numbers of bees with deformed wings rather than mite drop. Indeed I don't routinely monitor mite drop but will do so if I notice other problems such as deformed wings, drop in number of bees which I don't expect or can't account for etc.

Dave
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1565
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm in exactly the same position as you Dave. I still have a few trays of Thymol gel which are probably well and truly out of date by now.
I did a shook swarm on a hive that was showing a problem with Deformed Wing Virus a couple of years ago which I documented on the forum. It turned out the DWV was not being vectored by varroa (or at least there was not a high level of infestation and the colony never recovered from doing the shook swarm and died earlier this year. Two other colonies showed similar levels of DWV a few weeks later and I didn't treat and they survived winter and built up the following spring, so I no longer rely on DWV as an indicator of a varroa problem or a trigger to treat. Despite my failing eyesight, I rely on seeing a varroa problem during inspection. I know in the past a serious varroa infestation was clear when bees on the comb had noticeable mites on them and that was the point at which I would treat. That said, I no longer inspect regularly, but seeing a DWV problem at the entrance is a trigger to inspect. If I don't see mites I don't treat and in recent years I have not seen mites. I've never done a mite drop count.... I don't like mesh floors.
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freebee
House Bee


Joined: 09 Dec 2015
Posts: 23
Location: The Neterlands, Leeuwarden

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is my first full year, I had 1 colony.
I decided to let the bees do their thing and learn from it.
Most exciting was swarming, I managed to catch the prime swarm, (I was very proud of that), but to my surprise they also swarmed again and again, I didn't know that!
My first colony swarmed so many times, there is almost nothing left of them (and they are queenless now).
All in all, I am left with 2 swarms with granddaughters of my original queen and they seem to do well.
I was not so sure about treatment, so it is good to read your comments.
I think now, that I will treat one colony with hive clean and leave the other alone.
It wil be interesting to compare them.
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Adam Rose
Silver Bee


Joined: 09 Oct 2011
Posts: 582
Location: Manchester, UK

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

freebee wrote:

Most exciting was swarming, I managed to catch the prime swarm, (I was very proud of that)


Well done - it's a fantastic experience for a new beekeeper !

freebee wrote:

but to my surprise they also swarmed again and again, I didn't know that!
My first colony swarmed so many times, there is almost nothing left of them.

All in all, I am left with 2 swarms with granddaughters of my original queen and they seem to do well.


The original queen goes off in the prime swarm leaving various daughters. If the first daughter queen does not kill all her sisters, then there is the possibility that the remaining daughters go out in secondary, or cast swarms.

freebee wrote:

(and they are queenless now).


They are almost certainly not queenless. Why do you think they are queenless ? A virgin queen is quite hard to spot, since she has not been mated and is not as fat as a mated queen. She has to go out on one or more mating flights. Depending on the weather, this might take a while. Then it takes a few days for her to start laying, and that is quite slow to start with. The whole process can take up to four weeks.

You "original" colony ( actually not the original queen, which flew off in the prime swarm ) might be small but it has a good chance of building up through the rest of the season. Do you know what the flow of nectar is like from now until early Autumn ? You should ask other local beekeepers about this. Where I live it is very strong, so even the smallest of colonies are usually fine without any feeding. The standard advice will be to feed a small colony, but you will have to use your own judgement about that. Feeding is not the cost free exercise that conventional beekeepers say it is.

You should keep observing the original hive, and look for pollen coming in on the legs of foragers. If you see that, it is a strong indicator that you have a laying queen inside the hive. After a week or two of pollen coming in, you can look for eggs and brood, which will confirm that you have a laying queen whether or not you actually find her.

freebee wrote:

I was not so sure about treatment, so it is good to read your comments.
I think now, that I will treat one colony with hive clean and leave the other alone.


Really, I wouldn't bother treating new swarms. You rarely have any problems with a new swarm in its first year. If you want to do a comparison then you could treat one in its first winter and then compare. But you should note - there's not much point comparing a prime swarm and a cast ( secondary ) swarm, since the prime swarm will get going much more quickly than a smaller, unmated cast swarm.
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1565
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is an excellent post by Adam and I would second what he says about treating for varroa. None of your colonies should need any treatment this year. The swarms because they usually leave the hive with very few mites on them and the parent colony, because it has had a long brood break when the mites cannot breed and therefore the infestation level diminishes. This multiple swarming is part of the reason why Apis cerana, which is the Asian bee that is the natural host of varroa, manages and survives, because it swarms more than once in the season. For us, if our bees swarm in the spring/summer and then stop producing brood for a week or two in the depths of winter, that keeps the varroa mites at an acceptable level. Beekeepers who prevent swarming are more likely to need to treat their colony for varroa because the population of mites continues to grow right through the summer and gets to a point in the late summer/autumn when the colony is becoming overrun with them.

As regards your parent colony being queenless, it is possible. I have had a colony swarm itself to death, but usually they are left queenright, but I have found that the bees left in the parent hive often take a break..... they have plenty of comb for winter, they usually have some stores and no baby bees to look after, so they take some time off for a few weeks..... they live longer when they are not working hard foraging, so there is less imperative be busy.
Once the queen starts laying they will crank up again, but I have seen hives wait as long as 4 weeks after the final swarm left before they start raising young, which is totally contrary to what most beekeepers will tell you.... ie. if there isn't brood within a couple of weeks, they are queenless and doomed.

It is also totally normal for them to throw multiple swarms.... a prime swarm with the original queen plus several cast swarms with virgin queens as Adam explained. If you don't want this to happen then you need to "manage" the hive by removing queen cells or splitting it. This is where beekeeping gets tricky and you have to read a lot and work out the best system for you and your bees. Having an "insurance policy" of making a nucleus colony with one/some of the queen cells is always a good idea in case something goes wrong with your carefully thought out plan.....bees are often not on the same page with us and have different ideas about what they want and often they thwart our plans to their detriment and ours.

Anyway, congratulations on capturing your first and second swarm. I can't understand why anyone would prevent swarming, because that feeling when you capture them is a real euphoria and seeing them and being amongst them when they are swarming is joyous, like watching a birth.... but without all the blood and pain. There is something primal about capturing a wild creature, which is essentially what a swarm is and each capture is different, and there are often challenges, both mentally and physically to be successful... not all of them hang from a low branch and can be dropped straight into a basket or box.... and maybe it wouldn't be nearly so exciting if they did. Having said that, there is also some frustration if/when you fail and they head off into the distance!

Anyway, good luck with your new colonies and hopefully the old one will come right. If not, you could always combine it with the second (cast swarm) you caught as they will benefit hugely from all that comb in the parent hive....the biggest job for a new swarm is building comb for the brood nest, so giving them some empty comb from "home" will really give them a leg up.

I'm so pleased you explained your situation, so that we could advise you better, although of course, it is entirely your choice whether to treat them or not....

Very best wishes

Barbara


PS. If your original hive is left queenless, you could potentially swap them a comb of brood from the prime swarm with eggs and young larvae in it for an empty comb from the parent hive. It is not too late for them to raise an emergency queen and recover, but it needs to be done sooner rather than later. Can you give us an idea of time scales regarding when the last swarm emerged and when you last checked for brood? Also. familiarise yourself with what laying worker brood looks like..... the surface of the comb becomes uneven with small patches of brood that is actually mini drone brood laid into worker cells. If they have not developed laying workers, then that suggests there is a virgin queen still in there resting on her laurels!
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freebee
House Bee


Joined: 09 Dec 2015
Posts: 23
Location: The Neterlands, Leeuwarden

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 5:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for all this support.

The last swarm from the original hive was July 3rd. And I am afraid there are laying workers. My bee teacher visited me last Friday (21). He is a very traditional beekeeper and was very skeptical when I told him I was going for a tbh. That could not work in our Dutch climate. So I was very happy to prove him wrong. But he was also fascinated now he saw the hive and took a peek. He noticed little erratic drone brood, suggesting laying workers. I will wait a bit and have a look then. I rather will not disturb the 2 other colonies (and after your comment; I will not treat them )
Very Happy
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eltalia
Nurse Bee


Joined: 20 Jun 2017
Posts: 33
Location: Australia (Nth. Queensland)

PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"He is a very traditional beekeeper and was very skeptical when I told him I was going for a tbh"

I am going to offer my two bits here as whilst I own extensive apiary management knowledge the concept of TBH is entirely new ground for myself and so, really, we share the same dilemna - where is reliable TBH experience to be found in accepting that advice?
Compounding my puzzlement is a very thin knowledge base on contempory disease management. For the practised BK there is so much
information which is at odds with both logic and the natural behavior of a colony when looking at how to go about maintaining a disease free environment.
I found this video whilst lengthy is a matter of fact presentation which has helped me a lot;
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=s74WIPpGRHs
As advice I reckon I could offer the arena of TF is best visited long after much experience in other colony matters is gathered. To attempt to get TF right the first time in a new and only hive is a big ask of the newer BK.
I see such advice being handed out to new BKs as akin to "setup to fail" so not a way forward in developing TF as a mantra.

I also fail to see why it is "traditional" BK are so averse to helping out with TBH... it not like TBH and Lang derivitives are akin to a "Venus and Mars" thing, yes. That said, if your local is reluctant then it s a good bet you cannot use anything that comes from that interaction as reliable information.
In closing I think that like myself you find uourself in a situation where more questions is a good thing over accepting rote answers.

Cheers.

Bill
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