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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Redfield, Ar. USA


    My 1st package bees are to arrive mid April. I want avoid any use of chemical treatments in the long haul. I am not oppossed to some preventative measures while I am still new at this. Have tried to gather as much info this past year in getting prepared for keeping Bees but I have much to learn and want to get through this first year and end up with a healthy and strong hive going into winter. My plan so far is to treat with sucrocide when the package arrives (before hiving while still in shipping crate). I am taking a beekeeping course this week and their advice tends toward the use of preventative chemical treatments for all possible pests and diseases. But since these will be my first Bees and new hives can I get away with no chemical intervention until Fall? By the way I will be using screened bottom boards and slatted rack to help with var. mites and ventilation, Honey B Healthy added to syrup feeder and pollen substutute to help get them going.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA


    >But since these will be my first Bees and new hives can I get away with no chemical intervention until Fall? By the way I will be using screened bottom boards and slatted rack to help with var. mites and ventilation, Honey B Healthy added to syrup feeder and pollen substutute to help get them going.

    By the time you get a package there is usually lots of pollen around. Right now there isn't a lot here yet. Real pollen is better.

    As far as forgoing checmicals, you need a plan how you will accomplish that and you need to implement it from the begining. After your bees are majorly infested (and they will be sooner or later) it's more difficult to do something about it. Some methods, such as FGMO and small cell are really only effective when you do them all the time. So now would be the time to start.

    Also you will need to monitor Varroa mite levels regardless of what you decide to use to control the mites.

    Here's my point of view on mites:

    Varroa Mites. Varroa mites (Varroa destructor previously called Varroa jacobsoni which is a different variety of the mite that is in Malaysia and Indonesia ) are a recent invader of beehives in North America. They are like ticks. They attach to the bees and suck the hemolymph from the adult bees and then get into cells before they are capped and reproduce there during the capped stage of the larvae development. The adult female enters the cell 1 or 2 days before it is capped. Being attracted by pheromones given off by the larvae just before capping takes place. The female feeds on the larvae for a while and then starts laying an egg about every 30 hours. The first is a male (haploid) and the rest are females. In an enlarged cell (see cell size section) the female may lay up to 7 eggs and since any immature mites will not survive when the bee emerges, from one to two new female mites will probably survive. These will mate, before the bee emerges and emerge with the host bee. Varroa mites are large enough you can see them. They are like a freckle on a bee. They are purplish brown in color and oval shaped. If you look at one closely or with a magnifying glass you can usually see the short legs on it. To monitor Varroa infestations you need a Screened Bottom Board (SBB) and a white piece of cardboard. If you don’t have a SBB then you need a sticky board. You can buy these or make one with a piece of #8 hardware cloth on a piece of sticky paper. The kind you use to line drawers will work. Put the board under it and wait 24 hours and count the mites. It’s better to do this over several days and average the numbers, but if you have a few mites (0 to 20) you aren’t in too bad of shape if you have a lot (50 or more) in 24 hours you need to do something.

    Several chemical methods are available. Apistan (Fluvalinate) and Checkmite (Coumaphos) are the most commonly used acaracides to kill the mites. Both build up in the wax and both cause problems for the bees and contaminate the hive. I don’t use them.

    Softer chemicals used to control the mites are Thymol, Oxalic acid, Formic acid and Acetic acid. The organic acids already naturally occur in the honey and so are not considered contaminates by most although it's still recommended to use them when supers are not on. Thymol is that smell in Listerine and although it occurs in Thyme honey, it doesn’t occur otherwise in honey. I have used the Oxalic acid and liked it. I used a simple evaporator that Dennis Murrel had on his web site.

    Inert chemicals for Varroa mites.

    FGMO is the most popular of these. Dr. Pedro Rodriguez has been a proponent and researcher on this. His original system was cotton cords with FGMO, beeswax and honey in an emulsion. The object was to keep the FGMO on the bees for a long period of time so the mites either get groomed or they suffocate on the oil. Later using a propane insect fogger was used to supplement the cords in this control system. The other up side of the FGMO fog was it killed the tracheal mites also.

    Inert dust. The most common inert dust used is powdered sugar. The kind you buy in the grocery store. It is dusted on the bees to dislodge the mites. According the the research at the University of Nebraska this method is not very effective unless you remove the bees from the hive and dust them and then return them. It is also very temperature sensitive. Too cold and the mites don’t fall. Too hot and the bees die.

    Several people on here use powdered sugar on the bees on the combs. Here's Topbarguys version:

    Physical methods.

    Some methods are just hive parts or other things. Someone observed that there were less mites on hives with pollen traps and figured maybe the mites fell in the trap. The results were a screened bottom board (usually abbreviated SBB). This is a bottom board on the hive that has a hole covering most of the bottom covered with #7 or #8 hardware cloth. This allows the mites that get groomed off to fall down where they can’t get back on the bees. Research shows that this eliminates 30% of the mites.

    What I recommend. I use the small cell and Screened Bottom Boards (SBB) and I monitor the mites with a white board under the SBB. If the mites start going up while the supers are on I fog with FGMO. If they are still high after fall harvest, I use Oxalic Acid. Probably some FGMO fog would be a good idea anyway just to make sure the tracheal mites are gone, but the small cell will usually control both kinds of mites and cause less general stress which causes most of the other diseases.

    Tracheal Mites
    Tracheal mites (Acarapis woodi) are too small to see with the naked eye. If you want to check for them you need a microscope. Not a really powerful one, but you still need one. You’re not looking to see the details of a cell, just a creature that is quite small. Tracheal mites reproduce in young bees 1 to 2 days old. A common control for them is a grease patty (sugar and cooking grease mixed to make a patty) because it masks the smell that the tracheal mites use to find a young bee. If they can’t find young bees they can’t reproduce. Menthol is commonly used to kill the Tracheal mites. FGMO and Oxalic acid will also kill them. Breeding for resistance and small cell are also useful. The theory on the small cell helping is that the spiracles (the openings into the trachea) that the bees breathe through are smaller and the mites can’t get in. More research is needed on this subject.


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