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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Luzerne County, Plains, PA, USA
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    162

    Default Short scenrio, what to do?

    Situation:

    Single hive - 10 frame deep aquired July 08 (batteled varroa for the last 2 months)

    Bee numbers are way down
    Top deep has 10 frames capped honey
    Sugar shakes didnt knock the numbers of mites down enough (my opinion)
    Pulled bottom board (sticky) today...........LOTS of mites....100+ in about 72 hours.

    Knocked on the hive body..... NO sound from inside.........no bees in the air..(but then it was cold, rainy, and windy so no suprise).......no bees in the upper deep full of honey

    20+ dead bees on the front porch (not drones)

    Should i take the honey, and call it a season.........start fresh in spring with better bees and better knowledge?

    Leave the hive alone, and see what happens in the spring........and lose the honey?

    PS. Taking an online beekeeping course over this winter, to insure this wont happen again. Sorry bees!!!!!
    A beekeeper is not what I am, it's what I aspire to become.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Greensboro, N.C.
    Posts
    5,080

    Default

    Lift the top box enough to see between them. If live bees on 4 or more frames, leave until spring, or next check. If no bees on frame tops, remove top box and check inside bottom box. If empty, take honey.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    43,441

    Default

    100+ while not treating or while treating? Sounds like you have a lot of mites and if they did a lot of damage it's probably too late in the year to recover now.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Luzerne County, Plains, PA, USA
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Mike Bush:

    100+ while not treating or while treating? Sounds like you have a lot of mites and if they did a lot of damage it's probably too late in the year to recover now.

    I was treating with sugar shakes (every 3 days religously) since Aug. Thats when i first noticed the mites. At times the shakes seemed to be working, i'd have a high count the day after the treatment, then a 24 hour period with a fresh sticky board after the treatment was showing a steady drop in counts (aprox 50%)......... thought it was working........then i had an explosion in mite population and i posted this somewhere here, it was the consenus that the higher counts was likely from emerging brood that was affected. I kept the treatments up for about 6 weeks as wether permitted.

    In preping the hive for the winter, i put the bottom board back under the screen to save heat in the hive, and setup the mountain camp method for moisture control and emergency feed if the winter was hard. This was all done last saturday.

    Today i went out to place a weight on the top cover as it is quite windy today, and noticed the dead workers on the porch. With the lack of activity, i peeked under the lid and noticed NO activity. I closed it up, banged the hive with my hive tool a few times HARD, and got NO noise, in the past, the slightest bump would have them roaring! I then pulled the bottom board to have a look and there are easily 100+ on the board. I have not done the sugar shake in about 2 weeks now i'd guess, so this would be considered without treating........nothing done to make them fall, just a "natural" drop?
    A beekeeper is not what I am, it's what I aspire to become.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Sacramento,California,USA
    Posts
    3,270

    Default

    Just what do you mean by 'sugar shake'? normally a sugar shake is for doing a mite count, not as a mite treatment as it won't work for that. Using powder sugar for mite treatments entails spreading powder sugar thru a screen over the top bars and brushing it sideways down between the frames. The idea is to knock the mites off the bees and down thru the screen bottom board.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Luzerne County, Plains, PA, USA
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by RayMarler View Post
    Just what do you mean by 'sugar shake'? normally a sugar shake is for doing a mite count, not as a mite treatment as it won't work for that. Using powder sugar for mite treatments entails spreading powder sugar thru a screen over the top bars and brushing it sideways down between the frames. The idea is to knock the mites off the bees and down thru the screen bottom board.
    Sorry Ray, my bad........ I meant sugar dusting as you described. I say "shake" because when i do this, i usually begin by shaking the screen to get the sugar to sift through, if necessary i brush it through. (thought "sugar rolls" were for checking mite loads) Terminology sure can get confusing.
    A beekeeper is not what I am, it's what I aspire to become.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Pepperell, MA.
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    3,670

    Default

    I'd get inside and look. You really need to have a solid idea of how many frames of bees there are. Cool, clustered bees deep inside a hive body can be pretty quiet especially if there aren't many of them. Iddee is right. Decide how many frames of bees.....if any....that you have and make a decision from there.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Luzerne County, Plains, PA, USA
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenseye View Post
    Decide how many frames of bees.....if any....that you have and make a decision from there.
    That's my plan. Checked the weather here, Saturday looks like i should be able to look deeper without reaking havoc in the hive. Not going to pull frames and disturb cluster (if there is one), but take the top box off and have a quick look between the frames wouldnt hurt.........temps supposed to be in the 50's. Will post results.
    A beekeeper is not what I am, it's what I aspire to become.

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

    You don't have to rush, but be efficient. Temps in the 50's are great. Remember, you'll likely not have too much brood to worry about.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany
    Posts
    821

    Default

    With 100+ this time of the year I would say take the honey and forget the bees. I guarantee you ALL your bees are damaged from mites (if there some left) and IMO the leftover do not survive the winter.

    Start again in spring and never ever go for the sugar treatment. Its a HOAX and you did it the whole late summer. Dont worry, your not the only one but your so honestly and let it us know. Most would not even talk about it and let others learn the same hard way.

    If you like to go pesticides free treat your bees the middle of April with Thymol (one full treatment) and a second time in August (one full treatment) and one time with OA evaporation in late November (hive should be almost or brood free).
    .. one full Thymol treatment mean place two strips 2 week apart or the gel in the hive.

    You should treat in late August otherwise the winter bees have the mite damage.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    DuPage County, Illinois USA
    Posts
    9,197

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Axtmann View Post
    If you like to go pesticides free treat your bees . . .
    Now there's an oxymoron!
    Regards, Barry

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Luzerne County, Plains, PA, USA
    Posts
    162

    Default

    Powdered sugar is the only treatment i will ever use on my bees. That's as harsh as it gets!

    I bought Apiguard to treat them this year, just to get them by.......... but couldnt convince myself to put it on the hive..... i still have the full package, on my shelf, and for sale...

    The last thing i want is to start yet ANOTHER "treat, don't traet" thread here........It's a dead horse, and been beaten enough.

    Treating is a choice, and i choose NOT TO.

    I KNOW that me losing my bees (if i do) is my fault, and my fault alone. I didnt buy bees to bee a beekeeper.......my intent i guess was to be a bee-haver. I had no idea what i was getting into. My neighbors and I were complaining about low garden yeilds, and talked about the lack of bees. I stepped up and said "Well i'll get bees, and next year will be much better then". That day i looked online for bee supliers, made a call to buy bees....ordered a starter setup from Mann Lake.....friday bought beekeeping for dummies, and saturday, picked up my bees. I didnt know to to look for things like varroa or SHB.......and by the time it was noticed, loads were extreme.

    This year my losses are MY FAULT, and mine alone. If next year i have such losses, it will again be my fault, NOT ApiLifes', Apiguards' or Apistans'..............It will be APIcultures. I wont poison my bees............yes poison.........i read the lables, i have read the huge losses suffered by those that have contaminated their hive, honey, and comb............those are footsteps i choose not to follow in. I will likely never be a "commercial beek", breeding bees for polination and such. If anything is ever sold from my hives it will be honey and wax.....both of those products WILL INDEED be chemical free to the extent that i will not be adding anything. (i have no control of where they forage, and bring back themselves)
    Last edited by WayneW; 10-29-2008 at 04:12 AM.
    A beekeeper is not what I am, it's what I aspire to become.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Northern VA USA
    Posts
    137

    Default Mite count not that high?

    Wayne...your original post indicates one hundred mites in 72 hours. That is an average of roughly 33 mites per 24-hour period. Many would say this is not a high count. Really depends on your threshold. Mites are a part of the hive environment now...you will likely have mites all the time. The goal is to manage them the best we can (or in some cases, the best the bees can!).

    And, just one mite drop count isn't necessarily an accurate picture. The more counts you perform, the better the picture you will get. You'll see the mite count go up during a period when you see a lot of bees emerging.

    If you still have a queen and bees, let it ride. Short of robbing, what can it hurt?

    Also, I think you would hear beeks say to leave your SBB open, even through the winter. The bees will manage. And, it allows air flow in the hive and helps combat moisture from building.

    Good luck.
    Matt

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Jenison, MI
    Posts
    1,514

    Default

    In your situation, if you want to maximize honey and wax, your best bet will be to wait until it gets cold outside, open the hive, dump all of the bees into the snow, and then harvest all the honey and wax. You'll get whatever surplus they had, plus you can get an extra 60 - 100 lbs of honey from the broodnest, all chemical free.
    That extra honey more than pays for a new package of bees every spring, and that package every spring will have a brand new queen so will be able to keep ahead of the mites and be much less prone to swarming. A local beekeeper does this so that he can call his honey chemical-free.

    Otherwise, with only one hive you will probably be doing that every other year anyway, the only difference in the bees dying there would be intent: dead on purpose versus dead on accident.

    When you knock on the hive, often you will need to get your ear pressed tightly against the hive, they hum when knocked but it is often very difficult to hear. You can pop the inner cover a crack and see instantly what they are doing, you can smell them, as well as hear and see them. This is usually minimally invasive and won't affect them.

    Rick

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Luzerne County, Plains, PA, USA
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    162

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Guyrd View Post
    And, just one mite drop count isn't necessarily an accurate picture. The more counts you perform, the better the picture you will get. You'll see the mite count go up during a period when you see a lot of bees emerging.
    Thanks for the advice. My counts were up and down over the 2 month period precceding now. Started off around 50-75 untreated, then the day following the sugar dusting.....100+...........24 hours without treatment counts would drop somewhat maybe 50 or so (untreated)........repeat process (the highest drop count was 200+ twenty four hours after dusting). I was sugar dusting the hive every third day for about 6 weeks (weather permitting).and did manage to get counts down to around 50% of my original "untreated" counts.so i'm not not using a single drop count for a basis. As for a 33 mite drop being acceptable for 24 hours..... that would likely be a survivable number if the bee count was high enough to counter the mites......which is wherein my doubts lie. (it also seems that my bees dont have particularly strong hygenic genes) I will assess the hive condition better on saturday, and find out all i can.

    @ScadsOBees....... Having a honey harvest isnt important to me, nor is the wax as i will be losing that in the spring (i have no idea of what the wax was subject to before i got it, i bought a 10 frame deep hive in July, so comb was already in the original frames). I am building 2 med depth long hives over the winter, and plan on going with foundationless frames. However with that said.......if the bees are going to die anyway (or already have) then i would of course take the honey...... If theres a chance i can get them to make it through winter..... then of course i would NOT want to take their stores. As i said above, guess saturday may be the day that determines my bees fate. Wish me luck and Thanks to all that have posted advice
    Last edited by WayneW; 10-29-2008 at 12:12 PM.
    A beekeeper is not what I am, it's what I aspire to become.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Northern VA USA
    Posts
    137

    Default

    If you are consistently performing a 24-hr mite drop right after sugar dusting, then sure, the count should be high. This consistent count might reveal some sort of info, but I wouldn't know how to analyze it. A high count also means the treatment is working. The dusting doesn't allow the mite's foot-pads (for lack of better terms) to adhere to the bee. I could get as many as 250 mites five minutes after the dusting, and I am sure a lot more fall over the following 24-hours.

    A natural (untreated) 24-hr mite count seems more the norm based on my readings (forums, books, etc). Your 50-75 untreated count would be above my threshold and I would treat with a powdered sugar shower. My natural drop counts in Aug/Sept were in the range of 50-100/24-hr. I was performing the treatment every weekend (five hives) for 8 weeks, and dusting each brood box separately. Needless to say, it is time consuming. And there is no way I would want to treat every three days, both from a cost and time perspective. Although every three days likely doesn't hurt, you might do a little more research on the mite cycle versus the brood cycle. You may be dusting more than necessary.

    As my first year keeping bees, I opted not to treat with the soft/hard chemicals. With that said, I am not impressed with the over-all results of my dusting efforts. Sure, the dusting knocked off a lot of mites, but I never saw a significant drop in my 24-hr natural mite drop counts. In fact, with the exception of one colony that requeened itself about six weeks ago (breaking the mite cycle), I am relying on genetics and over-all colony health of my other four hives to make it through the winter.

    Good point regarding your count versus the estimated number of bees in the colony.

    Good luck with your weekend inspection!
    Matt

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
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    Pepperell, MA.
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    Default

    Dusting is part of a larger and more comprehensive plan, in my opinion. If dusting were always effective, there'd be pre-packaged solutions that we'd all be buying and using.
    "My wife always wanted girls. Just not thousands and thousands of them......"

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Northern VA USA
    Posts
    137

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenseye View Post
    Dusting is part of a larger and more comprehensive plan, in my opinion. If dusting were always effective, there'd be pre-packaged solutions that we'd all be buying and using.
    Yes, another good point, and one I need to get up to speed on. Aside from the SBB and dusting, I haven't done too much. A couple of broken brood cycles (via swarms) throughout the season helped. I've read about drone frames.

    Wayne...are you doing anything other than dusting?

    Matt

  19. #19
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Cambria County, PA US
    Posts
    400

    Default

    Matt and Wayne,
    I'm in Cambria county and I've been able to putz along with just drone comb removal.

    I've used the MountainCamp Method on a few hives and have been happy with that result as well.

    Drone comb takes a pretty good dedication to sticking with your calendar, that much I can say.

    I've dusted one swarm [no brood to deal with there] and was pretty happy with what I saw there as well.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Luzerne County, Plains, PA, USA
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    162

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Ravenseye View Post
    Dusting is part of a larger and more comprehensive plan, in my opinion.
    Exactly, and in that statement alone is where my shortcomings (inexperience)show the most.

    I had no idea what i was in for, no beekeeping friends (mentor )to ask or stop by and have a look......I simply didnt even know i NEEDED a "comprehensive plan". (Sure i came here and asked questions, but most of the time i didnt even know HOW to correctly describe the problem)......my plan was just this:

    Buy bees, let them help the gardens.......after all, it's only a box in the yard.
    (truth be known, i never even thought of honey)

    I "stumbled" across varroa by mistake actually...... i noticed some SHB in the hive........ordered a west trap for them. When i added the west trap, i forgot to take the bottle of oil with me......so i left the trap hanging out of the hive a bit while i went to get the oil...... when i pulled it out to fill it is the 1st time i had ever even seen a mite. (and there were LOTS, in under 1 hour)

    Matt said: Wayne...are you doing anything other than dusting?

    Short answer..... no........ bee numbers were on the way down, and i didnt feel good about pulling frames from the hive.

    @dug_6238 I hope i get the chance to test the mountaincamp method, but glad to hear it worked for you. Next year i will be better prepared to implement a truly comprehensive IPM method. Then i too can evaluate it

    On the better side of this:
    I have found beekeeping much more than i had ever anticipated. I am taking a course on beekeeping and bee biology, and wether these particular bees make it or not, next year will be a better year for me and my bees No more "it's just a box in the yard" lines of thinking. And if im lucky, maybe, just maybe i'll be rewarded with some honey for my neighbors. ( umm,,,,,,errrrr.......ok maybe i'll have some too)
    Last edited by WayneW; 10-29-2008 at 06:00 PM.
    A beekeeper is not what I am, it's what I aspire to become.

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