Although I was tempted, I haven't applied any commercial antibiotics, crystals, or miticides to my hives.
They are large cell and so far have done pretty well with using the oils to combat mites.
I'm beginning to wonder why anyone uses the commercial chemicals at all? If they can manage without them?
>>I'm beginning to wonder why anyone uses the commercial chemicals at all? If they can manage without them?
I think the difference is your treatment is only on ten hives...
Many of us lost all of our hives when the mites first came. If you have ever had to rebuild a few dozen or more hives after the wax mites and wax moths were finished, you will appreciate the reasons why we don't dare risk drug free again. I have four out of sixteen on my beebed dead already this year.
Thanks Ian and Odfrank...
"I have four out of sixteen on my beebed dead already this year".
Why are they dead Frank? Did these four dead hives get treated with commercial chemicals, or were they the only ones of all your hives you didn't treat with C. chemicals?
I'd like your comments as to what could have happened to them.
I'll add my perspective too.
Its not that difficult to go thru the first summer and winter without any treatment. A decent percentage will make it regardless of stock. Of course some stock outperforms others which is why you can find mites all over certain colonies and hardly any on other colonies in the same yard. Some bees seem to be like mite magnets.
The next hurdle is the second summer....mites often take their toll then with a loss of performance in the colonies. Fortunately you have made it thru the summer.
However, the second winter is a different story in my book. It tends to cull them rather HARD if they have never been treated. Then there is the story of the third summer .....if you head into that with a big mite load guess what happens.
Fortunately I think you get a good kill on t-mites with the oils and if you can keep them away the bees seem to survive higher loads of varroa....at least to an extent.
All my bees are from the spring of 02. So, this is my second year.
I've studied and studied and tried different methods and recipes.
The method for mites that I'm using now with vapo rub and thyme oil (and menthol spirits) saturated on flannel has been causing mites to drop to the floor dead. I've very pleased with the results.
I have to replace it every two weeks, as the bees cover it up with propolis but I figure a couple more times and they'll be great for the winter.
Just finding what works for us has been a very long confusing road.
I'm hopeful that they are going to be just fine come spring. They are strong and plentiful, working real hard getting ready for winter.
And I have the patties on as well, made of oils instead of grease or crisco. This seems to have been as helpful as the other. Haven't found much difference in them.
Might be able to get some nice small cell colonies started next spring.
I'll have lots of questions for everyone come feb and march.
>I'm beginning to wonder why anyone uses the commercial chemicals at all? If they can manage without them?
As you know Daisy. The hardest thing to do is not to use the chemicals. It was hard for me too.
Now that I have hives going into the 3 winter without commercial chemicals, I can't begen to tell everyone how much better I feel. I also know how much better the bees feel too.
It was hard to stop and let the hives go to see if they would make it on FGMO. Now I don't treat as is reconmended. Only about once a month with the fog. I did lose some hives due to mites, but what I have left are stronger and better than what I had before.
I have 2 hives the have never been treated...ever. That are going into the second winter. I will keep all posted on how they are doing.
Wineman is correct in saying that new hives usually make it the first winter with little problems. You have a new queen, new foundation, very little drone brood, the hive is usually no more than they can defend, etc. This is why when a new beekeeper says they speak highly of some "treatment" due to the fact they have no mites or problems, and it is a first year hive, it drives me nuts.
I wish I could have all new hives every year. Then my back wouldn't be killing me right now. Or getting home on a Saturday night at 8 p.m. Older hives have alot more problems.
From what you all are saying it sounds like that it would pay to have a new QUEEN every year. Any comments.
Russ, it appears that if you want a new queen every year, just use lemongrass essential oils for a brood spray in about august, and they'll supercede.
This is what happened here.......
I stopped using the brood spray after the supercedure.
Let me clarify...
I don't mean to spray oil on bees. Not that.
Mix up the brood spray using whatever medium for example, mix oil in honey and mix honey in water for the spray.
Sorry bout that.
Daisy, how long will you continue your current method if you don't collect any honey?
Couple of comments:
If possible, its nice to have control colonies to see if your treatment is the reason that you have mites falling or if its just a natural mite fall. Some colonies have high natural drops but hopefully it is from your treatment. Heavily infested colonies will drop 30-60 mites a day this time of year.....add an apistan strip and you wont be able to count all of them. If you dont have a control though, its sorta a guessing game.
Secondly, becareful and try to keep track of the amount of oil you are using and dont get caught in the "if a little is good then alot is better". Thyme oils typically run about 30-40% thymol. There is plenty of research that shows that a wide variety of oils kill mites (with thymol being extremely effective) but they can also kill bees in too high of dosages, contaminate honey and there are many issues about how to deliver them effectively as either vapors or contact.
Itll be interesting to see how they do this winter. Typical results in this area for completely untreated range from 25-75% loss on the 2nd winter but that includes losses from all mites, starvation, poor queens, etc.
Daisy, how long will you continue your current method if you don't collect any honey?........
I learned that the bees are making the expected amounts of honey considering the length of the colonies establishment and factoring in the drought this summer. So, I just don't know.
And I made my mite treatment based on this information.......
I didn't want to use chemcicals initially and I avoided it and lost my bees to the varroa (that I could see) and maybe T-mites that I couldn't. I used Apistan for the next couple of years with good result and then watched the Varroa take over in spite of the Aptistan. I decided it was the same end result except now my wax was contaminated. I started looking of alternatives.
Anyone is is just hoping that the mites won't kill their bees without some kind of intervention is just asking for trouble. You should at least know what the Varroa infestation is and know if your treatment is working. I would do a mite drop count without any treatment and compare it to a mite drop with treatment. If you have a bad infestation you'll get 50 or more mites in 24hours. If you treat when the infestation is that bad you should get more mites than you can count. If you're only getting three or four mites in 24 hours and you treat and get 50 or 60. I'd say you're doing fine.
I think the most important thing isn't whether you use or don't use "chemicals" but whether you make sure what you use is effective. The chemicals fail and so do some of the alernative treatments. The thing you want to know is if they are working.
>From what you all are saying it sounds like that it would pay to have a new QUEEN every year. Any comments.
Yes. It's best to have a new queen every year and at least every other year. The Queen Madibular Pheromone is important for general morale of the hive and for preventing swarming and it drops off after they are six months old and continues to drop from then on. A two year old queen may do very well or may not, but a three year old queen usually starts to fail.
I too do not want to use chemicals. This is my first winter however so I am using Apistan strips for V-mites because its all i have now to use.
Now that I am better educated, next year I'll treat with FGMO or some other non chemical means.
Apparantly mites are really bad here is southern Maryland and everyone is telling me to treat with apistan. Interestingly enough, nobody is using alternate methods like FGMO. Maybe I can set a trend next year.
Anyway, my mite drop on my SBB was between 12-20 per 24 hour period. I applied apistan yesterday. 24 hours later I counted approx 200 mites on the board.
I keep reading that if infestation is bad there would have been too many mites to count. It seems that I have a light to moderate infestation?
Daisy, could you please post your recipe and application schedule for using thyme oil? (Sorry if you've already done so.)
MB, When would you replace Queen's then, in the spring or fall?
Russ, Late summer. They are cheaper, you may need queens anyways at that time, and doing a spring requeening could screw up the honey flow. This also ensures a strong queen going into winter.
I would say probably in Aug. This would allow you enough time to correct any requeening that may go bad. Sometimes you just have a difficult hive and mother nature is sometimes not easy.