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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Default Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    Hi All,

    (I did a search and found only a few old threads on spring mite treatments.)

    My situation: I bought 4 nucs last spring. These are the first hives I have had in 30 years. The hives are in my backyard here in Denver, and sit in full sun all day. My hives struggled all season, didn't build much comb, populations didn't grow much, didn't produce much honey, and went into winter with about 3-4 deep frames of bees each and minimal stores. I did not not harvest any honey from any of the hives.

    I occasionally checked for mites during the season using a sticky board. I did see mites, but not at a level that would be considered to be an extreme threat to the hive. I treated with each hive with Apiguard according to the directions in the fall, and saw increased mite drops, but not what I would call huge numbers of dead mites. In other words, my hives do have mites, but not in debilitating out-of-control numbers.

    I put each hive to bed for the winter wrapped in a Bee Cozy and with the Mountain Camp method of winter feeding/moisture absorption. At this point in the winter (the first day of February), I have lost one hive. There is good activity on the remaining three hives on warm days to make me think that they will probably make it to spring.

    So far, we have had a dry winter with lower-than-average snowpack in the mountains. Since snowpack forms a large percentage of our water during spring/summer/fall, I believe we are unfortunately likely to endure another drought year, which means my already weak hives will probably struggle again this year to build comb, to build up population, and to collect much honey.

    At this point under these circumstances, I am not expecting to harvest any honey this year, I just want my hives to build up to a healthy population and collect enough honey to get through the next winter without any feeding.

    Considering how weak my hives are plus the expected drought conditions, I think it is especially critical that I get my hives off to the best start possible this spring. I already plan to start feeding pollen substitute and sugar syrup as soon as appropriate. To get the best possible start this season, I am wondering if a spring treatment for mites might be good to knock down whatever mite numbers I might have at the beginning of the bee (and mite) population spring build-up. My thinking is if I can reduce the mite population at the beginning of spring, the bees will benefit from fewer mites all season long. Sort'a like getting ahead of the curve on mite numbers.

    Are spring mite treatments ever advised? Are there any spring mite treatment that have generally given good results? Any other suggestions on how to help my struggling hives.

    TIA

    --shinbone



    Transferring frames from nucs into full size hive bodies:

    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,454

    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    This will start getting pretty deep into beekeeping philosophy but my advice is to "first do no harm". First determine that you actually have a problem. Unless I miss my guess you had horrible buildup and flow conditions in your area last year. The fact that they are still alive says something. In my mind the ideal time to treat is late summer/early fall to get a healthy winter cluster. Do a powdered sugar mite test determine your mite levels first. They have been through a long broodless period they may well be fine. If not there are some good options out there but some of them might result in at least some delayed brood production.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    880

    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    Jim - good points. Yes, they did survive a bad year which says good things about their genetics.

    I do know the hives have mites. It seem any mite reduction that doesn't cause too much harm to the brood process can only help the hive. Also, it sees to me that if the bees are going to go through a set back in brood production, the best time to do that is at the beginning of brood development since they then have the longest time to recover from the set back, especially since the mites are really going to pile into the cells that first brood cycle after a winter of no brood (i.e. that first cycle of brood is already going to be set back some due to the mites).
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    4,454

    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    Jim - good points. Yes, they did survive a bad year which says good things about their genetics.

    I do know the hives have mites. It seem any mite reduction that doesn't cause too much harm to the brood process can only help the hive. Also, it sees to me that if the bees are going to go through a set back in brood production, the best time to do that is at the beginning of brood development since they then have the longest time to recover from the set back, especially since the mites are really going to pile into the cells that first brood cycle after a winter of no brood (i.e. that first cycle of brood is already going to be set back some due to the mites).
    Yes, I would agree.
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    4,648

    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    a devil's advocate position would be if you harm the first round or two of brood in the spring that are meant to replace the dying winter bees, you might set them back below critical mass for dealing with cold snaps.

    a sugar, alcohol, or ether wash might give you a better idea, as well as pulling 10 - 20 drone larvae and seeing what's there. (and culling the drone brood if it was loaded with mites)

    i would prefer a brood friendly treatment in the early spring.
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    Herrick, SD USA
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    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    Quote Originally Posted by squarepeg View Post
    a devil's advocate position would be if you harm the first round or two of brood in the spring that are meant to replace the dying winter bees, you might set them back below critical mass for dealing with cold snaps.

    a sugar, alcohol, or ether wash might give you a better idea, as well as pulling 10 - 20 drone larvae and seeing what's there. (and culling the drone brood if it was loaded with mites)

    i would prefer a brood friendly treatment in the early spring.
    I do ether rolls but I hesitate to tell others with just a few hives to kill bees. Brood friendly is the key here. Here is how I see the major options.
    1 Check Mite. Excuse me while I laugh and gag
    2. Apistan Seriously?
    3. Apivar. Probably pretty effective if you choose to use Amitraz in your hives
    4. Oxalic vapor maybe yes but a trickle to a small hive in cool temps can be
    traumatic
    5. Thymol. Pretty temperature dependent and may set back brood rearing a bit
    6. Formic acid. temperature dependent and traumatic but short lived
    7. Hopguard I haven't used it but this may be the best option of all for early spring

    Thats my 2 cents take it for what it's worth
    "People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    nashville tn usa
    Posts
    228

    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    Watch the Fat Beeman on u-tube...fogging with FGMO with a little EO seems to be a good way to keep mites under control with little bad effect on bees and can be done most anytime they are out.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
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    4,068

    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    If they make it til spring,the queen will outbreed the remaining mites. You treated last fall, I think your best bet is to leave them alone.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA
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    1,693

    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    Jim - good points.

    Yes, Jim has some great points here. I don't treat unless mite counts go over the economic threshold.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    West Bath, Maine, United States
    Posts
    1,142

    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    A small grease patty will either help a lot or not at all. Will not hurt. Use vegetable shortening.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
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    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    Thanks for all the replies!

    A grease patty sounds like a great suggestion, since it won't do any harm.

    I've read where some people suggest applying a single MAQS. The thought being a single MAQS won't have the deleterious affects a full application may have, and the single MAQS will at least knock down the mites in the phoretic stage which can be a large percentage of the mites in the beginning of the brood building cycle.

    Jim Lyon mentioned "Hopguard." Some are reporting good results with it, especially when timed to be applied during a brood break:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...5872-Hop-Guard

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ard-experience
    Last edited by shinbone; 02-02-2013 at 01:56 PM.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Pike, Pennsylvania, USA
    Posts
    291

    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    Thanks for all the replies!

    A grease patty sounds like a great suggestion, since it won't do any harm.

    I've read where some people suggest applying a single MAQS. The thought being a single MAQS won't have the deleterious affects a full application may have, and the single MAQS will at least knock down the mites in the phoretic stage which can be a large percentage of the mites in the beginning of the brood building cycle.

    Jim Lyon mentioned "Hopguard." Some are reporting good results with it, especially when timed to be applied during a brood break:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...5872-Hop-Guard

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ard-experience
    You mention a large amount of phoretic mites in the spring. I assumed the opposite since the mites are eager to reproduce as the brood nest and drone population increases. Has anyone noticed higher then normal phoretic mites in spring, just curious?

    I've used one strip of MAQS and noticed fairly good results, came back two weeks later and checked levels using either roll and felt I had a great knock down behind capped brood.

    I would like to try Apivar on a few hives this spring, if they need it

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
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    jackson county, alabama, usa
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    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    Quote Originally Posted by westernbeekeeper View Post
    Yes, Jim has some great points here. I don't treat unless mite counts go over the economic threshold.
    ben, what is your economic threshold?
    journaling the growth of a treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
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    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    papar:

    By "a large percentage of the mites in the beginning of the brood building cycle", I meant before the spring brood build-up begins, i.e, little-to-no brood cells for the mites to be hiding in protected from a treatment that can't penetrate cell walls.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
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    Pike, Pennsylvania, USA
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    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    That makes sense, sorry if I misunderstood your comments. I have tried knocking down mites during the broodless period in Nov/Dec timeframe and it does work well

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
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    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
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    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    papar:

    Did you do your successful Nov/Dec mite knockdown with a single MAQS strip, or something else?

    After a little internet research, Hopguard sounds like it could be a good option. I am not sure if I can get it here in Colorado, though.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Pottstown, Pennyslvania, USA
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    378

    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    shinbone:

    The Mann Lake site says that Hopguard is available in Colorado, but it says "License and Permit required". I'm not sure what that means for you. Hopefully, all you would need to do is apply to get it. I had someone in Florida get it for me.

    DPBsbees

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    Denver, Colorado, U.S.A.
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    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    Thanks for the info. I am just a hobbiest with 3 hives hoping to grow to around a half dozen this year. I want healthy, strong hives, but becoming licensed and applying for a permit is more than I care to do for my hobby since there are workable alternatives that don't require such an administrative effort. A shame, too, since Hopguard seems like it has good mite control potential. Not sure why an agriculture state like Colorado wouldn't be more helpful to its beekeepers.
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Pike, Pennsylvania, USA
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    291

    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    Quote Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
    papar:

    Did you do your successful Nov/Dec mite knockdown with a single MAQS strip, or something else?

    After a little internet research, Hopguard sounds like it could be a good option. I am not sure if I can get it here in Colorado, though.
    I did use the MAQS product, one strip, but I waited for a warm few day stretch, otherwise I'm not sure how effective it would have been below 50 degrees or so.

  20. #20
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Spring mite treatment - what is good?

    papar - Thanks!
    --shinbone
    (3rd year, 14 hives, Zone 5b, 5400 ft, 15.8" annual rainfall)

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