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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    250

    Default Dead colony walking

    It looks like I am going to lose my one and only hive (first year hobby beek) to tracheal mites. I attributed all of the symptoms to other problems and I took no action to address TM. Now I am fairly sure, but still not 100%, from what I read over the last couple of days that the symptoms I have been seeing are due to TM. I thought that what I was seeing (bees "fighting" on the landing board, bees walking on hive and on ground in front of hive unable to fly when disturbed, lots of dead bees on ground in front of hive, dead or departed queen a few weeks ago) was the result of a persistent robbing effort and/or my clumsyness. I have a call in to the person I got my bees from to see if he has heard of other beeks having problems with their packages. I am pretty sure that there was some robbing that took place during our dearth so perhaps that is how/when the mites were introduced (???).

    I really did not plan to use chemical treatments on my bees and anyway it's too late for anything other than menthol paper towels to control the level of the infestation. I have decided not to do that either and just let winter seal their fate if it is indeed TM.

    So finally, here are my questions...
    • Come spring, if they have survived in decent numbers do I take that as a sign of strength and resistance and just go with it? ...perhaps re-queen from a good (bred for mite resistance) source?

    • If there are only small numbers that survive do I need to isolate them and let that colony die completely or can I combine them with a nuc from a good source?

    • If I can't just combine, can I still re-use all of my comb (assuming there is no brood) or do I need to start over?

    Thanks for the help!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord NH
    Posts
    2,668

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl F View Post
    It looks like I am going to lose my one and only hive (first year hobby beek) to tracheal mites. I attributed all of the symptoms to other problems and I took no action to address TM. Now I am fairly sure, but still not 100%, from what I read over the last couple of days that the symptoms I have been seeing are due to TM. I thought that what I was seeing (bees "fighting" on the landing board, bees walking on hive and on ground in front of hive unable to fly when disturbed, lots of dead bees on ground in front of hive, dead or departed queen a few weeks ago) was the result of a persistent robbing effort and/or my clumsyness. I have a call in to the person I got my bees from to see if he has heard of other beeks having problems with their packages. I am pretty sure that there was some robbing that took place during our dearth so perhaps that is how/when the mites were introduced (???).

    I really did not plan to use chemical treatments on my bees and anyway it's too late for anything other than menthol paper towels to control the level of the infestation. I have decided not to do that either and just let winter seal their fate if it is indeed TM.

    So finally, here are my questions...
    • Come spring, if they have survived in decent numbers do I take that as a sign of strength and resistance and just go with it? ...perhaps re-queen from a good (bred for mite resistance) source?

    • If there are only small numbers that survive do I need to isolate them and let that colony die completely or can I combine them with a nuc from a good source?

    • If I can't just combine, can I still re-use all of my comb (assuming there is no brood) or do I need to start over?

    Thanks for the help!
    If the colony doesn't have a queen going into winter and there is a t-mite issue there is little chance they will make it to spring for you to have the opportunity to requeen

    You need to confirm immediately whether or not there is a queen and if not get one in there immediately if you hope to get your one and only colony through winter.

    In addition if you really have a t-mite issue then you need to treat it immediately. As temps drop I suspect that one of your only options will be something like Oxalic Acid in a fogger http://www.members.shaw.ca/orioleln/Vaporizer.htm
    Milk Cows Not Taxpayers

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    250

    Default

    The colony did a nice job of replacing the queen and I have seen her. I was looking at her right around the time that she may have started to lay eggs but there were none. Could be that it was too soon or could be that it was already too cool and she does not want to start brood now.

    For better or for worse, I am going to go the no chemicals route. I would rather start over with a queen and bees that are bred for resistance (and do a better than I have so far with prevention) than to spend money and energy keeping an infested colony propped up on medication and treatments. I know people argue passionatly on both sides of that debate but as a hobby beek with one hive and a decent income (not decent enough that Barak Obama would want to raise my taxes, mind you) I can afford to do that. It stinks to know tha they will probably not survive but I believe in the "selection" philosophy.

    Anyone have feedback on my actual questions?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord NH
    Posts
    2,668

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl F View Post
    The colony did a nice job of replacing the queen and I have seen her. I was looking at her right around the time that she may have started to lay eggs but there were none. Could be that it was too soon or could be that it was already too cool and she does not want to start brood now.

    For better or for worse, I am going to go the no chemicals route. I would rather start over with a queen and bees that are bred for resistance (and do a better than I have so far with prevention) than to spend money and energy keeping an infested colony propped up on medication and treatments. I know people argue passionatly on both sides of that debate but as a hobby beek with one hive and a decent income (not decent enough that Barak Obama would want to raise my taxes, mind you) I can afford to do that. It stinks to know tha they will probably not survive but I believe in the "selection" philosophy.

    Anyone have feedback on my actual questions?
    Do a search for "Small Cell" and Tracheal Mites.

    You probably also need to determine if the queen is still a virgin or if she's mated....if there were no drones avail and she's a virgin then she's not going to be able to maintain numbers through the winter.

    So, if she's still a virgin you still need to address the requeening issue prior to real winter or that colony is a goner.

    As to whether you should consider them "Survivor" stock if they DO make it through the winter, that depends on a lot of issues, severity of the winter, the amount of stores (honey/pollen etc) they had going in etc etc.

    There are lots of factors and not enough info

    As to your question about combining, if you have a group of bees with a t-mite issue and you combine them with another colony then you've just contaminated a possibly healthy colony with t-mites. You may want to send off a sample of bees for disection to determine if they in fact DO have t-mites before combining.
    Milk Cows Not Taxpayers

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    Danbury,Ct. USA
    Posts
    1,966

    Exclamation >>>I am going to go the no chemicals route.<<<

    Hello Carl F.
    Basic to your attitude is the premise that it is possible simply not treat bees for mites. Unfortunately the first year in beekeeping often forgives this approach. Since the second year in beeking, one is experienced.... advice from this group gets passed on. The end of the second summer could slip by without a novice noticing the avalanche of mites until the dead-outs in spring, when you wouldn't see them either--just the effects.

    On preferring bees bred for resistance: Wouldn't we all like to do this? If it were that easy, wouldn't all commercial guys have jumped on this? There are resistant bees but they only help in an IPM program. Every bee breeder advertises resistant bees.

    >>> I know people argue passionately on both sides of that debate: <<<<<<

    This is a site composed of folks with all degrees of experience. Be careful who you listen to.
    Even me. I'm in my 8th year of trying not to treat. I've killed bees with FGMO, Small cell, Powdered sugar, Drone trapping, Oxalic acid fumes and recently with Formic acid. You sound so much like me when I started, it's chilling.

    It's not fair to the bees to buy them and let them die.

    Somewhere on this site is the statement by someone that woke me up:

    "I don't understand people who don't treat their bees and then buy replacements from those who do!"

    BTW You are unlikely to have tracheal mites. They've mostly been handled by breeding resistant bees. What you describe is just as likely to be virus generated --- and varroa vector the virus.

    Dickm

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    College Station, Texas
    Posts
    6,985

    Default

    dickm writes:
    What you describe is just as likely to be virus generated --- and varroa vector the virus.

    tecumseh:
    that is exactly what I thought when I first read carlf discription. although the same kind of general symptom will be noted from pesticide poisoning. typically (but not always) in regards to pesticide poisonings you will find lots of dead bee in the hive.

    you could of course take a sample and send it off to the usda lab and find out for certain. if you had access to a good microscope I would assume you could determine a tm problems on your own.

    at the very worst you should be able to reuse the existing equipment (some general sanitation might be considered prudent). at the very least I would place a mouse guard screen over the entrance to insure any comb didn't get destroyed in the winter months... comb when compared to foundation will give a package a head start come spring.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    250

    Default

    I do plan to send a sample to the USDA lab to find out exactly what is going on then I'll make decisions based on the data, the weather, and the bee population at the point when I know for sure what is happening. The last thing I want to do is to spend time, money, and energy addressing a problem that I do not have.

    I appreciate everyone's input.

    Carl

  8. #8

    Default

    One additional point is that most commercial bee/queen producers have bees with a genetic resistance/tolerance for tm. If it turns out that you had that serious an issue with tm, then I would surely look for a different supplier.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

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