You are in the South, if you have to treat go with something softer.
You are in the South, if you have to treat go with something softer.
==Northumberland County Beekeeper, Trent Hills, Ontario==
It is a GREAT idea to ALWAYS remove any supers that will be extracted from (even in future seasons), BEFORE you use any chemical treatment... INCLUDING chemicals that are naturally derived...
A safe practice is to mark the exterior of the supers that will need to remain during treatment (for example, we used jet black spray paint and made bold solid stripes around each of our "treatment" supers). These supers can be placed on during the last flow of your season to use for winter stores, and can be tranferred to other hives that may need to be treated...
Yes bees forage on blooms that are covered in chemicals everyday and everywhere... yes they bring these chemicals home with them... and yes traces can be found in the wax, but EXTREMELY low trace amounts have been found in the honey that is within the wax... Even still... You should ALWAYS take every precaution that you can to seperate chemicals from your extraction supers.
We do not take off ANY honey any longer, but still maintain a marking system to keep clean supers seperate from those that have been treated... not easy with thousands of hives, but well worth the peace of mind that comes when watching my kids devour a fresh frame of honey that I bring home as a treat.
Genetics is your next step... we do not "fight" varrora any more... Haven't had to in several years... So there are many treatments that have been released (or become popular), and many that have been banned since we were last in this fight... So listen to Oldtimer about what is ok to use legally..
When we first came under threat we tested dozens of treatments (chemical, and methodical/mechanical)... we found several ways to get rid of them Completely and we incorporated these treatments into our operations while we finished testing and developing the best genetics that we could find in our own stock as well as stock from others... now we do not have to treat and we randemly test for varrora using a sbb (which btw is NOT an option for a commercial operation), ether, and strips.... only had mites in 7 out of well over 5,000 hives over the past 4 years... Did we wait and see if the bees would fix it themselves?? No way! We wiped them out right away...
NO BEE IS MITE PROOF... but find you some good genetics and "help" if its needed...
I'm just going to throw in here, that rrusell6870 sells queens, he can sort you out with a good hardy bee if you need one.
FloridaBee, the symptoms you mention do point to a big enough varroa problem to wipe out the hive overwinter if they are not varroa tolerant bees. You should definately treat.
Years ago it was simple but now choosing a method such as Apivar is a bit of a crap shoot because mites have developed immunity to these treatments in some areas. But if you go with Apivar the method you suggested, plus what Marbis answered, will be the best way to go about it. A good plan would be to check your sticky board the first few days of treatment, if it's working you will see a HUGE increase in dead mites. If there isn't, you'll need a different form of treatment. My own preferred method is formic acid, but there's a lot of variables to get right or it won't work, or, you can kill bees. It can also be hard on queens. ATM it's probably too late in the season to use FA, because temperatures are too low. The way i do it takes 24 hours and costs less than a dollar per hive. I only used Apivar this time on some hives because it tied in with the management of those hives at the time, FA was not appropriate, it does have problems and risks.
>we found several ways to get rid of them (sic VD) Completely
>only had mites in 7 out of well over 5,000 hives over the past 4 years
I don't think I believe you
Please enlighten us all re several ways to get rid of them COMPLETELY
First I should say that I have never and will never "wait" on the government or others to save my bees... I have very large resources, an outstanding staff, and come from a long line of entomoligists in a family owned large commercial package and queen supply company... which has enabled me to manage thousands of hives since I was a very young child... and when the mites became a problem, our labs were focussed on killing them well before the government could tell you how many legs they had.
The people that we were told to rely on when the mites began to get bad had a fraction of the education and much much less experience than most of us here, as well as many others around the world....
The next thing that I should point out is that Most of the methods that we used in our mite studies would most likely not be "approved" for use today... So DONT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!
Many, Many chemicals kill varrora, and pose limited threat to the bees... I have already described 2 methods, in earlier posts, that will completely rid a hive of varrora within one full hatch cycle... There are many other methods using coumaphous, Maveric, etc, that also work for this purpose...
But the most important method of treatment is to maintain genetics that can help you in the fight and make the varrora a minimal threat...
We had many thousands of hives to inspect and pick the genetics of those that were already showing resistance to start with... we also knew of many other queen breeders and entomoligists around the globe that we worked with diligently in order to develope our own strains... This included several russian entomoligists that we brought here to study the threat with us and work to breed a more resistant bee... as they had already had a great deal of knowledge about varrora since they had been in russia for over 150 years...
I invite you to read a few of my other posts... there are several in this forum, as well as the queen/breeding forum... you can also click on my handle and choose the option to "find all posts". As to if you believe me or not... sorry, but thats up to you... I will add though that... 1...I am not "selling" anything. We are booked up years in advance for packages by the large commercial resale companies, and our queens are sold out before feb. of each year... (this last year I ran queens up until last month to help out people who had taken losses to SHB). 2...I have many many posts telling people HOW to raise their own queens, and have been attempting to further peoples interest and aid them into creating more resistant queens at that.
I have always been reluctant to even mention that we do not have "issues" with mites, from fear of someone taking what I say out of context... If you read the post entirely, you should note that I was indeed deferring to a different bee keeper that I have spoken with several times and believe to be a very intelligent and experienced man that could answer the treatment question with more completeness than I, because he is more knowledgable about current regulations than I am...
I think its important to make a distinction about treatments in different types of operations. Beekeepers who are first and foremost package/queen producers or pollinators have a lot less downside risk with chemical treatments than those of us who are first and foremost honey producers. The former can have a year around treatment schedule the latter a couple months in the spring and a couple months in the fall. Honey producers using hard chemicals off label especially while honey supers are on put their own business and the industry at large at risk. The pure and healthful image of honey could be seriously harmed by the actions of a few. I recently sent honey samples out to most of the major packers in the country and told them I not only expect that the samples will be tested I encouraged them to test it for whatever they might choose I am confidant in the purity of our product.
RR has obviously been successful in producing at lot of queens and packages and I will leave it to others if they choose to debate him on his methods. I will wholeheartedly agree with him on one point. Our government is really good at telling us what we cannot do but pretty much leaves us to our own devices to figure out what will actually works in the real world. If you take anything away from rr's post I think it should be "dont try this at home" there are definitely some chemicals out there that will kill mites but think long and hard before you decide if you want that stuff in your hives.
Folks, please please read RRussells posts...
RR, if I'm wrong, please correct me... the inference I draw from your last post is that as the mites have developed resistance to chemical treatments, you've come to depend more upon genetics. Because of the genetics of your bees, you no longer have "issues" with mites.
I and others here have said many times, requeen with resistant/genetic stock, and get off the chemical treadmill. I have never treated for mites, and never will. Several years ago I had one hive that had some DWV bees, but not enough to hurt, and the hive got over it. Occasionally when I open a hive and split some burr comb with drone larvae in it, I'll see a mite on such larvae, but never many...and I don't worry about it. My bees are doing just fine. Get good stock!
It's your choice folks, chemicals, or the right bee, and there are several varieties out there that require no chemical mite treatments.
"If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow
That is partially correct... ;-)
Mites have built their own resistance to several of the treatments that are available today... they will continue to do so as long as the treatments are not used in rotation (different chems for each NEEDED treatment), and as long as the treatments are TOO weak to actually wipe out the mites...
In your case, keep up the good work! Your stock has been developing its resistance through time as the mites in your colonies are not wiping you out.
The ONLY ONLY ONLY ONLY time that a treatment should be used is to SAVE a colony from the mites... not after it is too far gone, but after the colony can no longer be considered "healthy"... You see an unhealthy colony can not improve its own resistance... We DID have to use chemicals when mites first arrived, but only to keep our colonies healthy enough to fight the mites for enough generations that they began to win the battles on their own...
The big issue here is that the chems that are on the market are very weak, and costly, and have to stay in the hives for far too long of a period to have any real effect... The weaker it is, the more mites will survive being subjected to it... The longer it remains, the stronger the mites resistance will become...
When we began our fight, these chems were barely thought of... so we tested, tested, and tested miticides from all spectums until we found the ones that would serve our purpose in the fastest, strongest, and least invasive ways possible... Our purpose?? Keep our bees strong and fighting by limiting the numbers of the mites in each study colony... did it work?? YES.
Now here is the kicker... If you just take a few queens that have zero lineage that has been subjected to varrora, then try to start building their resistance... you will be in for a very long fight... These genetics are available NOW by many suppliers across the world... They have already spent the time fighting, so do not go in reverse... get queens that are already advanced... they do not have to be russians either, so if you are looking for carniolans or yellow itallians, they are out there too (maybe not as advanced, but farther along than base stock and much less prone to swarm and somewhat more gentle)...
Do I agree with treating... ONLY IF NEEDED... not just because there is a mite... Of course the only way to truly be effective at preventing a loss while NOT treating is to WORK YOUR HIVES... you will never know unless you look... OFTEN.
There are survivor stocks that are available as well... I am in no way knocking them... our developement practices are different in that they chose stock that was "left" after an infestation, where as we urged all of our stock to develop... Not every operation has the unique atmosphere that we do to use these types of methods... The end results are the same and I agree that survivor stock is very strong in resisting pests. Hope that covers everything and thanks for the post stevenG.
Just wanted to add that we are having this very discussion on another thread titled "losing my second hive, please help" Thanks!
My only thought here in reading all these posts is where is the prevention??? We all seem to focus on the cure for these mite issues, but not many seem to speak of the initial prevention of varroa infestation and overall colony health. Once the hive has become infested, it may be too late. Proper ventilation is critical to a healthy and productive hive. For this reason, I use screened bottom boards in all my hives in addition to venilated top covers. I dont prop up one side of the top cover like most do, I have actually built gabled top covers with gable end vents which wick out stale humid air that varroa and every other apiary pest loves to live in!!! All hives should also be elevated and located in as dry area as possible and facing the daily sun as much as possible. As humans, we dont wait to get sick before we start eating a good diet and clean up our unhealthy living conditions. For people like me who dont use harsh chemicals in the hive, this first two steps are extrmemly important necessary steps that need to be taken. Another is good feeding nutrition for the colony and making sure they are always running a surplus. And as beekeepers, we need to know how much to take and how much honey to leave for our hives to survive and prosper. Another important and overlooked issue is the selection and proliferation of extremely resistant strains of bees like russian stock and the breeding of good healthy colonies. Treatments should always be a last resort especially for the hobbiest or backyarder, certainly commercial migratory beekeepers and large scale operations dont have the time and resources to check every hive every week, so that is why they use massive amounts of chemicals to treat the hives in advance even though some hives may not need any treatments for years. Every beekeeper needs to figure out their own routines and methods to a clean, friendly, healthy apiary and produce the best untainted honey bees can produce....
Well what I was talking about anyway, was Apivar ( Amitraz ), I think he used the term "soft", meaning that unlike the SP and OP strips that leave residues that taint honey and wax for years, Amitraz breaks down in a few days, once it's left the strip.
Most folks wouldn't call Amitraz soft, compared to say, Thymol, it's just how "soft" is defined, or not defined.
Also, good point Beemandan, that is an issue with the names Apivar & Api Life Var, two completely different products. I deal with a lot of newbies and people are confused constantly, I do wonder why the manufactureres decided on such similar names. When i'm talking to people about it i always include the word strip, or paste, so they are clear what we are talking about.
Last edited by Oldtimer; 11-18-2010 at 12:31 PM.
Bill C good post and thoughts, the ideas you mention re general health are certainly relevant for a lot of bee ailments, such as Nosema disease.
Unfortunately in the case of varroa mites we are up against two problems. One is that mites are present in at least low numbers, in pretty much every hive. And the second is that varroa can thrive in a healthy bee colony.
As to prevention, what you suggested is a great plan, a resistant (or at least tolerant) bee. Such bees are being bred and queens can be bought. Not just Russians either.
My only thought here in reading all these posts is where is the prevention???
Bill C. this thread is from a gentleman that needed help handling DWV...Not about prevention... There are hundreds of posts that answer those questions...
Proper ventilation is critical to a healthy and productive hive. For this reason, I use screened bottom boards in all my hives in addition to venilated top covers.
Not in all locations... SBBs can cause lots of stress on a colony in areas where the temps are 100+ during the day and 62 at night, with 96-100% humidity... These areas are vital for the industry and home to several large operations, but with SBBs the colonies would not be able to maintain their temps and humidity, thus would be stressed and prone to swarm as well as be less productive...
Another important and overlooked issue is the selection and proliferation of extremely resistant strains of bees like russian stock.
NOT overlooked on beesource... check the breeding forums... you will find quite a few great discussions there... Although I will state once again that location should be addressed when considering stock...
certainly commercial migratory beekeepers and large scale operations dont have the time and resources to check every hive every week, so that is why they use massive amounts of chemicals to treat the hives in advance even though some hives may not need any treatments for years.
We are a very large commercial package and queen operation as well as a research foundation... we work very hard to find the best means to control and prevent pests and develop genetics that will serve our industry better while fighting the pests at the same time.... With thousands of hives we have NEVER "used massive amounts of chemicals to treat the hives in advance even though some hives may not need any treatments" We inspect all of our hives in most cases every three days or so, and manage all of our treatments to be the least invasive and most effective. I do not know of any other large operations that do these things either... maybe a few pollenators...but I doubt it... please keep in mind that while it seems like the large operations like us just treat every hive the same, that is far far from the truth... We have millions of dollars and over 125 years devoted to our bees...they are NOT expendable.
Bill C Beekeeper was saying earlier in this thread, "... I have actually built gabled top covers with gable end vents which wick out stale humid air that varroa and every other apiary pest loves to live in!!!" *** Is there any way we can see a photo of your design? I know I'd love to see it!
A government large enough to provide everything you need is strong enough to take everything you have. T. Jefferson
I've started a different thread just to avoid a side track of this one. here's the link.
In reply to some of what BillC has said in his post regarding commercial beekeepers I have to say it never ceases to amaze me the things that are posted here on beesource some times.
I've heard it all
commercial beekeepers use "massive amounts of chemicals"
they "dont have time to look after their hives".
they take all the honey and feed back sugar syrup.
they dont take time to observe the bees.
they shift them here and there.
This is just some of the stuff I've read that comes to me off the top of my head.
I want to know do you guys who write this stuff actually know any commercial beekeepers?
and why is it that commercial beekeepers know nothing about bees or beekeeping but the guy with 2 hives in his backyard knows it all?