What do you think about this mite count, what is instore for me? I did a mite count on two of my hives and four nucs today. They were very low and I dont know what to make of it.
Hive 1 was a package that I bought this year and did two splits from it. Both times I gave the queen to the split. On a three day mite drop I counted 9 mites on the board, for a mite count of 3.
Hive 2 was a split I made from my hives this May with a purchased queen, and the count for a 3 day mite drop was zero.
I have 4 nucs that I started this year with queens from the split hives, and the 3 day mite drop on them was zero.
Im happy to have these mite counts, but I dont know what to expect next year. Could I get crushed by mites, or will they build up slow? If I keep breaking the brood cycle will they stay low? Can anyone give me a hint what to expect, I am clueless about mites.
Re: Mite count
Are you chemical treat free or will you treat if needed. With the small amount of manageable hives I would be ready with some drone combs / powdered sugar/ sticky boards to try and trap the early spring mites and allow the hives to come to full strength ahead of a warm weather infestation. I am three years chem treat free averaging 25 hives 90% wild caught local tree and barn hives / swarms I feed sugar water and try to monitor the best hives combine the weak ones or let them die out. If they get real high mite loads going by late summer I move the queen out to a small nuc and break the cycle if she shows good strength I might put her back if not, requeen from better hive.I can get this done because I have heavy local wild population to draw drones to my queens I can afford to freeze or just scrape and burn infested drone zones in my hives. I've been keeping a little over three years and draw my thoughts from working full time for a variety of comm. beekeepers and experiments with my own hives.
Re: Mite count
It appeares that you rather urban and more or less bee isolated location is a good one for keeping mite loads low. I think you should expect what you have experienced. Keep doing what you are doing.
I read Randy Oliver's most recent article in the ABJ. You might want to read it too. He points to changes in agriculture for our decline in colonys. You don't have that problem where you are, so maybe being where you are helps.
Re: Mite count
At this point based on your count results you should turn your attention from mites and do what you can to make sure the colonies are ready for winter. Strong populations, adequate food reserves, and the like. Do beekeepers in SC wrap colonies for winter or reduce entrances?
The mite counts as you saw are low. They give you a needed picture of how things are in the colonies now but they are at best only a slight indicator of what may happen to the hives next year. Why? Because the mites that over winter in your hive are most probably insignificant compared with the mites your bees will come into contact with next spring. To make decisions regarding treatment strategies for next year you'll need to count mites next year. Sorry about that. Whatever your plans are for dealing with mites make them now and start to gather whatever materials you need.
Breaking the brood cycle is thought by some to have an impact on mites, how much of one is debatable. One thing it does do for sure is reduce bee population growth and that may be ok with you if you are not looking at your bees as a honey producing factory. Your decision.
Re: Mite count
Thanks everyone, I am going to do my best to go chemical free. I'll shake some sugar on them if I have to, and I hope that is as far as I have to go with that. We dont wrap hives were I live, average highs here in the winter are 55, with a average low of 35.
When is the first time next year, that I should do a mite count?
I plan on putting small cell foundation in my hives next March. So I am going to be more worried about getting all new comb drawn out, instead of honey.
I went with all medium frames so I cant buy drone comb, but I do have foundationless frames in my hives now, so I should be able to find some that are drone comb, and freeze it. If bees draw drone on one side will they automaticlly draw drone on the other side. Or could you get drone on one side and worker brood on the other?
Treebee are your chem free bees large our small cell, foundation or foundationless? How long do you break the brood cycle for, when you move the queen out?
Mark I hope it has something to do with the area I am in. But since my bees do have mitesm wont the mites just outbreed my bees and overrun them? Do you know if there is anywhere I can get Randys article online, since I dont sbscribe to ABJ?
Andrew I started feeding last week, although I think we are having a fall flow now. Two of my hives took the syrup and one didnt. The only reason that I can think why they wouldnt take it would be because of a flow. Today I moved some frames of honey from a strong hive, to my one that wouldnt take the syrup.