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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default V-Mites, Queens, and Yellow Jackets

    Just noticed something this evening that I thought was interesting and I'm wondering if anyone has ever noticed a similar scenario.

    I recently did a mite check at one of my yards with 7 hives. I left the trays in for 3 1/2 days and pulled them to do a count. Six of the seven had only a few mites each - after 3 1/2 days! Needless to say I was very happy to see those kind of counts in late August.

    The seventh colony was a different story. There were dozens of mites scattered all over the entire board. This one will need some attention soon. The population is a bit higher in this colony, which would no doubt account for higher drop counts, but it seems way out of proportion compared to the other hives.

    My first set of questions .... Only this "one" colony among the others is having such a problem with mites. Could it be related to the queen and her offspring's' lack of hygienic behavior? Do I need to replace her? Any other possible reasons?

    Second.... I just happened to notice something this evening while standing in the yard, just watching the activity. The Yellow Jackets have been terrible for the last couple of weeks and as I gazed over the whole yard I noticed that most of the hives had a few YJ's darting around, being pests. But in front of this one hive with the high mite counts there were about 20 or more YJ's flying and crawling around in the grass within a few feet of the front of the entrance. Some were scavenging on hive debris and a couple of dead bees, but most just seemed to be rooting around in the grass.
    Maybe there is no connection, but it struck me as odd that they were concentrating on the one colony that has such high mite counts. Anyone else ever seen this before? Does it mean anything, or is it just a coincidence?
    To everything there is a season....

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    Default

    Could this hive with high mite counts be removing larvae?

    I know yellowjackets scavenge for such things.

  3. #3
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default

    I didn't see any larvae, but that's a possiblity. They may be scavenging them as soon as they are dropped outside. Waiting around for the next free meal to be dropped in their lap.
    To everything there is a season....

  4. #4
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    Feb 2003
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    lewisberry, Pa, usa
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    Default

    If it was that, Thats a good thing. Shows good behavior in your bees.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Albany, NY
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    48

    Post

    Most likely the yellowjackets are looking for more brood or weakened bee's being removed from the colony. I have one hive myself with a large mite count and all the deformed bee's some with mites were removed from the hive. Yellowjackets have been making a meal out of the weakened bee's. However as nice as it is to see the bee's removing those bee's the hive needed treatment

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Pepperell, MA.
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    Default

    My yellowjackets (ooohh...I hate calling them "mine"), like to poke around under the hive between the cinder blocks. I'm hoping that's not where the nest is. I think they're just sniffing the odor of brood coming out of the screened bottom board.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Evansville, IN, USA
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    2,838

    Default

    Here is my GUESS . . .

    The "stronger" hive may be robbing other weakers hives (yours and/or others) and in doing so, they are bring back "extra" mites.

    If the hive is robbing, could the smell of "fresh honey" be attacting the yellowjackets?


    Remember, I am guessing

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default

    I appreciate everyones responses. Some interesting things to think about.

    I would like to repeat this question and see if there are any opinions.

    ".... Only this "one" colony among the others is having such a problem with mites. Could it be related to the queen and her offspring's' lack of hygienic behavior? Do I need to replace her?"

    FYI - All colonies are headed by queens of differing sources and lines.
    To everything there is a season....

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Pepperell, MA.
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    Default

    OK....here's an opinion. It MAY be a genetic issue. It's likely to be more than just that. Perhaps that hive generates more drone brood which mites seem to like. Thus, more mites. Perhaps your other hives had an unnoticed break in the brood cycle and this one didn't. Perhaps it's a little of everything. If you don't have any other problems with your queen...she lays in a good pattern....hive is not hot......etc., you don't NEED to replace her. It might not hurt if you do replace her. This time of the year or a little later may not be a bad time to do so. Nonetheless, you still have to deal with the mites, queen problem or not.

    OK...just an opinion. But, if it were my hive, I might re-queen anyway just in case. It may not help but it's likely not to hurt.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
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    College Station, Texas
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    are all the hives of the same age?

    after answering this question, I would likely compare (as ravenseye suggested) the quantity of drone cells in the brood area.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tecumseh View Post
    are all the hives of the same age?

    after answering this question, I would likely compare (as ravenseye suggested) the quantity of drone cells in the brood area.
    In this yard, 1 hive was overwintered and the others are splits off of that hive or captured swarms from other areas. The splits and swarms are all basically the same age, within a few weeks of each other. The parent colony of course has the highest population, all the others are comparable. The colony with the mite problem is one of the captured swarms from earlier in the year.

    I haven't seen much variation in drone population among the colonies, but have observed that across the board all seem to be noticeably lower in drones than in other years.
    To everything there is a season....

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
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    Default

    Just a quick update. I've spent more time watching the activity around this colony, and sure enough, the bees are dragging out drone larvae and dropping them in the grass. This is apparently what the YJ's have been scavenging on. I'll presume it's a good sign to see them performing hygenic activities, even though the mite counts are high.

    I'm treating the colony to give them a bit of assistance and we'll see what happens.

    Thanks everyone for your thoughts.
    To everything there is a season....

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