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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Akron, OH
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    18

    Default Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    We are new to beekeeping but close family has hives. We collected a swarm yesterday which makes us official bee keepers! I acquired my hive from my father who struggled with mites and wax moths. I had to clean the hive from thousands of wax moth eggs when he gave it to me. He lives 3 hours away from my location and where I have setup my hive, if that matters.
    My fear is that the swarm we collected will acquire the mites from the hive or the wax moths will somehow come back because there were reminants left in the hive (all the larvea sacks were removed and it was sat out over the winter to kill anything remaining).
    Should we begin to treat for mites/moths before we see evidence or not? How do we know if the swarm has mites already? With the little knolwedge we have, we're trying to collect information as quickly as possible. I have ordered a few beekeeping books and am looking for local classes. However, I have put the cart in front of the horse only because I didn't want to give up the opportunity of a free swarm!
    Any kind words of wisdom are greatly appreciated!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    If the hive has been empty for quite a while, there won't be any mites in it, as they'd starve for lack of larva to feed on.

    The swarm itself is likely carrying mites.

    The most mite resistant bees I've had came from cutouts of bees that had been on their own for several years without treatment.
    If your swarm came from such a hive, you may have little or no mite *issue* even if there are mites in the hive.

    I haven't treated for mites or disease for several years, but have always either raised my own queens or purchased mated queens for beeks who also avoid miticide and antibiotic treatment.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Akron, OH
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    18

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    Thanks for the response! This swarm had only been in the tree for about a day and a half. They had begun to put wax on the leaves. Apparently they were going to make the tree their new home.
    Should I treat them for mites now? We only set them up last night and already have an ant infestation (we used cinnamon around the hive this morning and will prop it up on cinnamon sticks as well tonight) so I worry all this stress will be bad for them.
    If I should treat for mites...do I treat for only varroa, all? What would you treat them with?
    bee swarm.jpg

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Portland, Oregon
    Posts
    965

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    As i said in my comment, My bees came from a colony that had been doing well for years with no one to trat them - they' lived in the wall of an abandoned house.

    AS they'd prospered there without treatment, I've never treated them.

    I just bought my first run-of-the-mill commercial queens as a temporary stop gap for a couple of nucs that had virgin queens that didn't return form mating.
    My intent was to replace them with queens I raise form my mite resistant/tolerant stock...

    I have no experience with treating bees for mites.
    Personally, If I were you, I wouldn't treat them unless I had a mite problem.

    That's a controversial position, but it is how I came to have bees that haven't needed treatment.
    Unless you leave them untreated, you'll never know if you could have.

    But then again, if you don't treat, ever, you run the risk of losing your bees to mites.

    When I sell honey, I sell it at an expensive premium as raw honey from bees never treated with chemical miticides or antibiotics.
    And I will soon (next year/year after start selling nucs and queens from this line of untreated northern-raised survivor stock.

    So if I should ever lose a hive to mites, I can afford it far more easily than corrupting my ability to market bees and honey as naturally produced without chemical treatments/hazards.

    As I have no experience with treating for mites, if you choose to treat, perhaps someone with experience can help you.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Plymouth County, MA, USA
    Posts
    123

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    Just about all bees have mites. Treatment will help with that, but there are downsides to just about any treatment. Most treatments (other than hop guard, maybe) shouldn't be done anywhere near when they're collecting honey that you might eat. In addition, most treatments have a chance of harming the queen (always check for the queen a few days after treatment). That said, you'll never get rid of mites. You'll just do damage control.

    Hop guard and apivar are the only two treatments I know of which are supposedly problem free for the queen. Hop guard will only take out 20% per treatment and is messy. Apivar is a nasty chemical and you don't want it in your honey. If you were going to treat, you'd either want to do it before major honey collection, or going into winter. I'd probably suggest waiting for the latter, unless you suspect a bad infestation, as treatment is likely to stress the hive in its new digs, which is never good.

    That said, mite management isn't just chemical treatment. Look into getting a screened bottom board if you don't have one. Do powdered sugar shakes every two weeks (you can YouTube it). And get a plastic drone frame. Queens will just lay drones in it, and pregnant mites gravitate to drone larva. So you can wait for that frame to fill up and get capped, freeze it for a couple days to kill the mites/drones, and put it back. It helps a lot. That's a 3 dollar frame.

    Wax moths are predominantly a concern in winter and in weak hives. If the hive gets good sun even sometimes, they're less of a problem. If you really fear infestation in that equipment though, freeze any parts of it that you can, and it will kill any remnants. Not as big a deal.

    Congratulations on the new pets and welcome to the forum! Good luck.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Plymouth County, MA, USA
    Posts
    123

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    Also of concern are tracheal mites and nosema. People usually only treat for those in spring and fall. Tracheal mites, you just give them something in the hive with menthol. Any beginner beekeeping book will have recipes.

    Nosema is bee dysentery. Putting some medication into fall feed isn't a bad idea (assuming you want to treat them at all, many people don't). If you start to see brown splotches on everything and the front of the hive though, you can emergency treat if you get it fast enough, and possibly save the hive.

    There are other bee problems, but you can't really treat for them.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Akron, OH
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    Wow, you all are so helpful! I am very thankful and even more excited we officially have our first hive.

    What I've been reading is that even if you treat the mites, it doesn't guarentee your hive will live. SO...I'm going to wait it out and hope a large infestation doesn't take place since they were a wild swarm. I'd prefer to go untreated if I can.

    How would I know what bee breed we have acquired? Is it possible to figure that out with a wild swarm? We have compared pictures to a few casualties we had from collecting them and believe we have Carnolians or 2nd guess are Russians.

    Oh and forgot to mention...yes we have a screen in the bottom of the hive. Also, I sat the hive out thru a few snows completely open so that the remaining pests would freeze and die.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    45,949

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    > how do I know if they're pest free?

    I guarantee they are not. You can know that for sure. No bees in North America (and most of the rest of the world) are pest free.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Livermore, CA
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    1,390

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    Quote Originally Posted by hedges View Post
    Hop guard and apivar are the only two treatments I know of which are supposedly problem free for the queen.
    Dont forget Oxalic Acid, which is found in honey and some vegatables. Ive treated doing an oxalic acid vapor and knocked the mite population down very well. And have not lost a queen due to the treatment. Infact, The Fat Bee Man says it will also handle trichael mites <sp> but I can not confirm that.
    Coyote Creek Bees

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Sacramento, CA, USA
    Posts
    2,803

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    Wax moth's are only issues for weak hives or hives with too much drawn comb to cover. The swarm is probably carrying mites with it. Now would be a good time to treat with oxalic since all the mites are phoretic and exposed but I wouldn't worry about it since it's a swarm and they will have a slight brood break. If you have a screened bottom, a good sugar dusting may help now as well but it's not really a treatment, just help get rid of some of the mites that may be on the bees.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Upstate NY
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    43

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    Quote Originally Posted by Beregondo View Post
    And I will soon (next year/year after start selling nucs and queens from this line of untreated northern-raised survivor stock.
    I would be interested in purchasing a nuc when the time comes.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Ludington, Michigan
    Posts
    635

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    I wouldn't do any kind of a treatment on a new swarm. There would be a good chance they would abscond if you do

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    Hive the swarm and feed if the nectar flow is poor, use powdered sugar or hopguard on the 7th day after they were hived. Hopguard gets 90% of the mites, powdered sugar will get 30%.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    Won't a break in the brood cycle help a little with mite population?
    Greg Whitehead, Ten Mile, TN
    Blog - http://gregsbees.blogspot.com/

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    Taylor County, Georgia, USA
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    713

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    Won't a break in the brood cycle help a little with mite population?
    Yes.

    I would not treat them for anything right now. Learn how to do a mite count and how to check for other diseases too. Before winter, do a mite count.

    As Michael Bush said, those bees are not pest free. They carried Varroa mites with them from their last home. As soon as you hive them, small hive beetles will come running.

    The best defense against wax moths and small hive beetles is a strong hive. Though traps do help the bees out. There are lots of options for mites.

    http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com...arroaMites.asp
    Try it. What could happen?

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Akron, OH
    Posts
    18

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    So if SHB come...is it a matter of whether the hive is strong enough to fight them off or do I prepare to treat them for it?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Bloomington In
    Posts
    790

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    > how do I know if they're pest free?

    I guarantee they are not. You can know that for sure. No bees in North America (and most of the rest of the world) are pest free.
    That is almost word for word what I was told, by the lady that owns the local bee supply.
    If it is the time of year for swarms, I figure they made it through winter and have grew to the point they needed room to expand, there for they should be in good health and low mite's. A swarm late in the year I look for problems. just my two cents

  18. #18
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Concord, CA
    Posts
    4,129

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    Put the bees in the new box & don't treat or bother them for a weeks. Let them settle in & setup house keeping so they stay.
    After a weeks there still won't be capped brood and some form of mild mite treatment like powdered sugar can be used with good results, but its not necessary.

    I don't think people in Ohio have problems with small hive beetle getting out of control, in the southern stated its a big problem.
    Dan

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    1,263

    Default Re: Collected a swarm - how do I know if they're pest free?

    The varroa enter the cell the day before it is capped so if all the brood is young larvae there are no varroa in the cells. The time the varroa are most vulnerable is when they are on the adult bees. A swarm can have few mites or they can be loaded, depending on the mite load in the parent hive.

    If the mite load is reduced now the varroa can't increase to dangerous levels before fall. Heavy varroa infestation causes the bees that go into winter to have a shorter life span than if they had no varroa. This reduced life span is a major cause of winter die off.

    Your swarm may have heavy mite loads, or they may not. The problem is if you wait past the eighth day after the eggs are laid the varroa are in the cells reproducing and they can't be touched by the soft mite treatments like hopguard or powdered sugar.

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