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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Redlands, CA USA
    Posts
    102

    Default Drone comb loaded with mites

    I checked my back yard top bar hive which was started with a feral swarm. It seems to be doing well, though it has stopped expanding after filling about two thirds of its four foot length. I have harvested about a bar of honey over each of the last two months, and added a bar to the brood nest 4 times. Yesterday I pulled a heavy bar of capped honey--the bottom third was drone comb. I was a little surprised to find 2-4 mites on each of the drone larvae.

    I haven't done an alcohol wash. Does the count in drone brood correlate with a dangerous level of varroa indicating need for treatment? How effective is drone comb culling in controlling mites?
    9 months, 12 colonies, TF (so far)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma dr. Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    878

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    I think it is high. Worker cells will be lower rate of infestation than the drone cells, but in my climate with cool spring I think that load of mites would really slow down buildup. Here is a pic of some drone comb I culled in August. Did not find any visible mites. The culling was mostly to check the effectiveness of the OA vaporization I did in April.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,867

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    What I would do if I found that many mites on the drone brood as you did, is take your capping scratcher and go throught the hive and scratch open all the drone brood so the bees will remove them and the mites.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    fairfield,ohio
    Posts
    674

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    Remove the drone comb and freeze it

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    5,999

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    If 25% of drone larvae have a mite in them, at that level it is likely that 6% of worker brood will have mites in them.

    But you have to sample around 100 drone cells because the mites can "cluster" in one small area of comb and give a wrong reading in a small sample.

    The 25% drone brood infestation is considered a critical level for the hive, the level at which many textbooks recommend the hive is treated. For you though, it is a simple matter to remove the drone brood thereby removing a good portion of the mites. As above, the comb can be discarded, or frozen then returned to the hive.

    Just to complicate things , there is a body of thought in the treatment free community, that mite levels should be left to run their course in the hope that maybe the hive will throw off the mites. However if this is your only hive & you want to play safe you would treat it or at the very least remove drone brood and continue to monitor.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Aberdeen, Idaho
    Posts
    473

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    You will need to completely remove the drone brood. If you just scratch them open and leave them in the hive the mites will crawl out of the opened cells and into another one faster than the bees can remove them.
    Dave

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma dr. Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    878

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    I have frozen complete deep frames of drone and returned it to the hive. It was a bad experience since the bees seem to dump most of the carcasses within a few feet of the entrance. That amounts to 4 or 5 pounds of stinking mess that attracts flies, ants, hornets etc. Even covering it with ashes the smell lingered for a long while.

    You can uncap and blow the larvae out with air hose or a water hose sharp spray nozzle but that is a bit of a mess too, including your glasses. I tried a few foundationless frames and they get drawn out quickly and you can just cut the whole slab out leaving a fringe on the top bar and throw it back in immediately. My chickens enjoy cleaning the comb for me!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Redlands, CA USA
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    My fish pond took care of the drone larvae--no chickens. Are bees the gateway drug for chickens or vise versa?

    The section I removed was the only drone comb I saw and there had to be at least 300 mites in that section of about 150 cells with an estimated 90% infestation rate. Guess that means treatment, but I'll try my first alcohol wash tomorrow to confirm.

    Thanks for the responses.
    9 months, 12 colonies, TF (so far)

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    >I was a little surprised to find 2-4 mites on each of the drone larvae.

    That is high.

    >I haven't done an alcohol wash.

    A sugar shake won't kill the poor bees...

    >Does the count in drone brood correlate with a dangerous level of varroa indicating need for treatment?

    It is a high level of mites.

    > How effective is drone comb culling in controlling mites?

    You would remove the mites that prefer drones... which would select for mites that prefer workers...
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  10. #10

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    which would select for mites that prefer workers...
    Good idea! Then the remaining mites....those that prefer worker brood.....would have a much lower reproductive success rate and the mite loads would grow much more slowly.
    I like it.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  11. #11
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Vernon, AZ. USA
    Posts
    52

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    The mites prefer drones, and a new natural method of control is to introduce foundation sized for drones, and then remove and destroy it, therby lowering the colony mite population. Try it on purpose, you seem to have the perfect hive to experiment with. Good luck!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    5,999

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    Jfb58, if you do go the treatment route, might I recommend Apivar (not Api-Life-Var, a different product). This is because there are many pitfalls treating hives especially in a TBH. Some treatments such as thymol based ones or organic acid ones are virtually impossible to do effectively in a TBH.
    Apivar is pretty fullproof, you just hang the strips between the combs, 2 or 3 strips would do for an average TBH, and you leave them there 8 to 10 weeks. Over that time they leach a chemical that kills the mites. Doesn't get the ones in brood cells so an 8 week time period is to catch 2 drone brood cycles just incase some mites didn't get caught first time around.
    The active ingredient is called Amitraz, it is an artificial chemical, however it has a very short 1/2 life, ie, once it is out of the strip and among the bees it is chemically unstable and breaks down in a few days so does not remain in the hive for years like some other chemicals do.
    With your high mite count, the hive may already be in more trouble than you realise, with possibly all the worker brood affected as well, and sometimes it can be too late to save such a hive even if all mites are removed because they cannot get a cycle of healthy brood through. So if you do decide to treat, do it soon as.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    >Then the remaining mites....those that prefer worker brood.....would have a much lower reproductive success rate and the mite loads would grow much more slowly.
    I like it.

    But Apis cerana has the opposite arrangement and survive Varroa quite well. The Varroa only prefer the drones and the workers are not damaged. I think you already have the problem that they don't perfer the drones enough and that's why your workers are damaged. Less mites does not necessarily mean less damage as the cerana have shown us.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Redlands, CA USA
    Posts
    102

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    I did a count, had 7 mites on 203 nurse bees, 3.5%. These are locally adapted survivors from a swarm trap collected 6 months ago: not too bad to work with, but they were plenty p-o'ed when I brushed off a brood comb. This isn't my only hive, and no monetary risk, seems like a good opportunity to watch and see what happens. Mr. Bush, I look forward to meeting you in Arizona next month, hope you are still coming!
    9 months, 12 colonies, TF (so far)

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
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    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    Let's know either way in due course jfb58, I'd be interested to see if they can throw off an infection that bad.
    44 years, been commercial, outfits up to 4000 hives, now 120 hives and 200 nucs as a hobby, selling bees. T (mostly).

  16. #16

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    The Varroa only prefer the drones and the workers are not damaged.
    In A cerana, I don't think 'preference' enters the picture. I believe that varroa are unable to successfully reproduce in worker brood.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,217

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    http://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs...l-00890744.pdf

    That does seem to be the common view, but in this study they said they COULD reproduce contrary to what had been thought. Of 720 worker cells, 3 cells were infested with Varroa. of 132 drone cells 18 were infested. That is a ratio on workers of 0.0041666666666667 and a ration on drones of 0.1363636363636364 or a 32 times preference for drones... I would say they prefer drones and it looks like that is the reason they can tolerate them.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 40y 200h 37yTF

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    Vancouver, BC, Canada
    Posts
    1,316

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    Quote Originally Posted by Oldtimer View Post
    Let's know either way in due course jfb58, I'd be interested to see if they can throw off an infection that bad.
    Can Amitraz be used when honey supers are on? In vet med with respect to mammals it is considered quite toxic.
    Janne....first hives April 2013, 19 hives, treat, plant zone 8b, at sea level, latitude 49.13, longitude 123.06

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Pottstown, Pennyslvania, USA
    Posts
    370

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    Quote Originally Posted by WBVC View Post
    Can Amitraz be used when honey supers are on? In vet med with respect to mammals it is considered quite toxic.
    No. The only commercial miticides that can be used with supers on, that I am aware of, are MAQS and HopGuard.
    Dan Boylan, At it since 2007 in Pa Zone 6B, 13 hives, 7 nucs, treat when needed.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Drone comb loaded with mites

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Bush View Post
    this study they said they COULD reproduce contrary to what had been thought. Of 720 worker cells, 3 cells were infested with Varroa.
    Three worker cells containing a foundress mite hardly indicates that they can successfully reproduce in them.
    You implied in an earlier post that culling drone cells would put selection pressure on those who reproduced in worker cells. The purpose of my initial response was to point out the silliness of such a 'hypothesis'. Getting bogged down in an equally ridiculous debate is a waste of both my time and yours.
    Dan www.boogerhillbee.com
    Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards

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