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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    708

    Default Location basis for mite treatment free vs need to treat

    This is something that's been in my head for a while and have posted occassionally but figured I'd like to start a thread to get others' opinions. A recent thread on pollen substitute had some posting that feeding sub. really helped and someone who didn't feed then asked if those who didn't feed were just "lucky". The answer seemed to be that location was a driving factor, that there were certainly areas of good pollen diversity such that feeding a sub was unnecessary so the only luck involved was really the location.

    Having heard the same sort of luck comment regarding being mite-treatment free, that since there are those who say you must treat for mites then those who don't treat for mites are just lucky, I'd like to get some feedback on this. Every bee pest in the country seems to have hotspots and then areas where it's almost no problem at all, and this seems to be a common knowledge type of fact. Some areas have issues with AFB while others do not, some have issues with hive beetle while others do not, some may have tracheal mite issues while others do not. It seems to make perfect sense that mites would be the same way, but I really never hear or read about mites in this way. While not put bluntly, the connotation seems to be that "North America has mites", and that's the end of it. This leads to the perception that there is just a single, uniform density of mites over the entire continent. Upon closer inspection, I believe this makes no sense and leads me to the idea that location, just like for all the other pests mentioned as well as for forage, is a key determining factor as to the effect mites can impose on any particular hive. Of course internal genetics will play a role in the ability of any one colony to cope with mites. But I think that treatment free beekeepers saying, "I successfully keep bees without treating so anyone can," as well as those who treat saying, "You better treat or you'll lose a lot of bees," are both wrong, at least on a national level. Like just about anything else in beekeeping, it's all about locale, and mites are no exception, but again, we seem to deal with the topic of mites as if they were the same everywhere. The correlation between mite load and location may be poorly understood simply because I think it would be difficult to research, but I think it's possible that it may be a bigger factor than anyone believes.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Stilwell, KS
    Posts
    1,716

    Default Re: Location basis for mite treatment free vs need to treat

    You have mites. Trust me.
    Honey Badger Don't Care ಠ_ಠ ~=[,,_,,]:3

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    1,237

    Default Re: Location basis for mite treatment free vs need to treat

    I understand the implications of the discussion, it only seems logical that Geographic’s would have a bearing on mite populations at a given time. The shorter the season the less like a given species is to become great in numbers. I have never been one to go to extremes on any matter, I am for the sake of this discussion a kind of middle of the road guy. I do not believe not treating is the answer, nor do I believe that arbitrarily treating on a regular basis is the answer. I look for mite loads on a hive by hive basis. I have developed what I feel is an acceptable threshold and once it is crossed I treat. I also utilize some of the non chemical techniques to minimimize the load and hopefully extend time between treatments. I also find that the frequency of treatment is far greater in the southern portion of the country than is it in the north.
    So I guess my vote would be yes location does have a bearing on mite load.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Lititz, PA, USA
    Posts
    708

    Default Re: Location basis for mite treatment free vs need to treat

    Oh you bet I do. I think I'm in a fairly mite-infested area. So much so that the local beekeepers who treat have winter losses around 10% while those who don't treat are around 40% or more. Wasn't the point of the post (to say I don't have mites). Point is to discuss if others believe that mite impact, and therefore the need/benefit of treatment, is locally based simply because mites are not dispersed evenly throughout the country vs the fact that mites are just an evenly distributed impact.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    DesAllemands, Lousiana
    Posts
    209

    Default Re: Location basis for mite treatment free vs need to treat

    I live in south Louisiana and never treated my hives. I mainly started treatment free because truly I just didnt want to deal with the extra step. Since then my hive counts nearly double every year and I currently have 100% survival from last year. 25 out of 25. I am now up to 30. Most very strong. And yes they do have mites. All my hives come from swarms that I catch. The few other beekeepers in the area have very similar results as me and their bees also came from feral stock. Nobody I know treats their hives in my area.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Ka'u Hawaii
    Posts
    169

    Default Re: Location basis for mite treatment free vs need to treat

    For one, 10% winter losses would be normal back in the days before mites and treatment. So, if a treatment guy is getting 10% losses only, then IMO, he's doing well.
    On other threads I keep hearing about swarms. Healthy swarms, IOW ones that do not involve absconding to escape a bad situation, indicate a healthy feral population. Some areas of the country have a healthy feral population, while others do not. Healthy ferals indicate a population that's able to handle mites. Lack of same indicates the opposite. With a strong feral population you stand a good chance of being successful with treatment free. Without it, IMO you need to treat.
    And, given time, hopefully healthy feral populations will develop throughout the country.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Pueblo, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    650

    Default Re: Location basis for mite treatment free vs need to treat

    We don't have hive beetles here. My guess would be because the environment is so arid. Another beekeeper in my area sends his hives to California every year so I would think he would bring some back with him but neither he nor I have had any problems with them. I am basically treatment free although I do hit my hives with Oxalic Acid in the late summer. I have also re-queened all my purchased hives from frames of brood taken from hived local swarms. I've been waiting for the mite monster to rear it's ugly head and luckily it hasn't, when it does i'll hit it with OA if necessary.
    Zone 5a @ 4700 ft. High Desert
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