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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Dallas, Georgia, USA
    Posts
    5

    Default OK, I blew it...now what? Opinions wanted!

    Ok, here is the scenario...I am a first year beek and having way too many issues for a first year keeper. I ordered my hive and bees and didn't get them going until late May (late start...first problem). They started off great, had 2 deeps pulled out and full of brood and pollen within a month or so. Put a super on and they had it full in no time flat, which I pulled off after it was capped in mid July. Put another super on and they never finished pulling that one out so I didn't mess with that one as I figured we were in a dearth and that would be normal. Then I noticed 2 SHB and I started paying real close attention to that problem, I still find a couple on occasion but not very many at all (not paying attention to other things...second problem). They never did fill the second super and they started moving the nectar down into the second deep all by themselves...I didn't have to manipulate them at all. But...a few days ago I noticed some problems with 2 of the bees wings looking like they were chewed or damaged in some way. I went this morning and put a piece of cardboard under the screened bottom board and then dusted the top of the frames with powdered sugar and really ticked the bees off, and guess what I found (other than a few stingers in my neck and back)...you got it...hundreds of varroa on the cardboard after only about 15 minutes (late discovery...third problem). Here is my next problem...I don't want to use chemical treatments if I don't have to. I am pretty sure it is too late in the year to use chemicals anyway. My question now is what about using a bellows type duster to apply powdered sugar? How affective will this be if used once a week or so for a month and can I use it through out the year? I would like to save the bees and I know we have a little longer here of 'warmer' temps (N. GA) to raise a few more 'wintering bees'. Any thoughts or suggestions will be appreciated but remember I would prefer to keep them as chemical free as possible. Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Faulkner Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    1,697

    Default Re: OK, I blew it...now what? Opinions wanted!

    ok, you have two choices
    1. try the sugar method, only it will not knock your mites back fast enough. the mites that are the real problem right now are in the brood...capped brood. The sugar method will take time, but you need to get started on your wintering bees...now. That can only be done by knocking back the mites Fast!

    2. You have some treatments available which are not hard chemicals. I don't know if you have formic or not, but there is Apiguard, thymol gel, OA,. All of these will get the counts down fast, helping to a quicker start to healthy wintering brood.

    JMO

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Tip of the Thumb, Michigan
    Posts
    676

    Default Re: OK, I blew it...now what? Opinions wanted!

    I don't see where you blew it.

    Late May to start a hive isn't bad at all. Here in Michigan, swarms that issue in late-June have an excellent chance of survival, even with the harsh and sometimes early winters that we have.

    Observing that you have Small Hive Beetle (SHB) is a good thing. A lot of first year beekeepers wouldn't recognize them at all. (And I don't see where you weren't observant to other things.)

    Bees will move honey and nectar around the hive. It's natural.

    You recognized Deformed Wing Virus and realized that it comes from mites. You also realize that you probably need to treat.

    Lastly, you are wanting to go chem free. That's commendable.

    -----

    Now for some bad news. With hundreds of mites dropping after 15 minutes with powdered sugar, it sounds like you've got yourself a pretty fierce mite problem. You are probably going to have to use SOME kind of mite-a-cide to get rid of them. Clearly, your bees aren't doing the hygienic thing and probably won't survive the winter without some kind of intervention. Most likely, that intervention will have to be a chemical, although it doesn't have to be.

    Your choice of chemicals are going to be dependent on three things:
    Temperature (day time temps in your area).
    Duration of warm weather (length of treatment time).
    And, how serious of a chemical (hard chemicals vs. organic chemicals vs. powdered sugar) do you want to use?


    Do some research on all the different meds and methods available to you. Powdered sugar is definitely an option, as long as you have the minimum 3 weeks (and determination) to apply it properly.

    Oh, and that bellows system? Skip it. It kills brood. Powdered sugar introduced with it gets everywhere, and too much of it gets into brood cells. Use an empty box with window screen stapled over the bottom, and then do the traditional powdered sugar method if you're wanting to go that route. Brood death is kept to a minimum.

    Happy beekeeping,
    DS

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Crystal Water, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    900

    Default Re: OK, I blew it...now what? Opinions wanted!

    " and then do the traditional powdered sugar method ..."
    Sorry about being ignorant ( we don't have Varoa, yet!) what is the " traditional sugar method"?
    I would like to learn BEFORE we are forced to!
    thanks!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Tip of the Thumb, Michigan
    Posts
    676

    Default Re: OK, I blew it...now what? Opinions wanted!

    @Max2: I was just about to say, "You have Varroa. You just don't know it." But, then I realized that you're in Australia!

    I'd recommend doing a SEARCH here on Beesource on "powdered sugar method" or "IPM Integrated Pest Management Varroa". That'll give you WAY more to read than you bargained for!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    dallas, tx, usa
    Posts
    517

    Default Re: OK, I blew it...now what? Opinions wanted!

    Ok. If this had happened in mid or even late summer you would have had a lot more breathing room, but as things stand you are up against the winter season. The good news is that you are in Georgia, so that gives you a little extra time. If she is laying, drop in some brood comb, let them cap it and then pull it out and freeze it. If there is any drone comb you can easily get at with a knife cut it out and dispose of it. This will lessen your mite count. Either way, kill the queen right now. Your bees are obviously not mite resistant and she is not worth much anyway. Are you on small cell? Maybe try for next year on that. Best bet is to try and get a clean nuc from someone right away and then you can recombine in a month to six weeks. The lack of brood rearing for a month or so while they requeen will interrupt the mite cycle. Try having a back-up queen if you cannot obtain a nuc. Make sure you watch them and throw in a shb trap, as they may be weak. Feed them. A good queen will take you far. If you have to, you can always overwinter a nuc instead of a full hive. I have good luck with singles 5/5. Good luck.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Crystal Water, Queensland, Australia
    Posts
    900

    Default Re: OK, I blew it...now what? Opinions wanted!

    Thanks, Big Daddy. I checked and found a good source of info: http://www.countryrubes.com/images/P...d_9_09_09l.pdf

    Looks like I have to start changing my bottom boards - next search!

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