Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?
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  1. #1
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    Default Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    I am new to beekeeping, and did a sugar-shake test on my large hive- counted 7 mites from 300 bees. Then, I followed up with a sticky-board and counted 32 mites after 24 hours. Is this a relatively high count, or extremely high count, or do they stand a chance? I do not want to treat but I also don't want to be irresponsible. Is there anything I should do?

    My other hive is smaller but I only counted a single mite. That said, I hope the other hive does not make them sick too.

    Angie

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  3. #2
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    Casey, Il, USA
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    mite counts are irrelevant for those who wish to remain treatment free. The mites don't kill them they make them weak and then sickness kills them. Some colonies ( those who remain treatment free) can have ungodly amounts of mites and be ok while others never get too bad. You need to decide if you want to treat or not and then stick to your decision. You will never develop treatment free bees if you decide to treat at the last min to save them.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    I don't think anyone "wants" to treat ... I only have 1 hive and I really want more splits from them in the spring so anything to help their chances. I counted 8 mites and used OAV. If you are ok with losing yours you may think different! I plan to be TF asap though...
    season 2 - 6 hives and counting!

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    32 is pretty typical for the fall.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    If you want to be TF, you have to buy TF queens or be prepared to suffer a lot of losses. Find somebody local that is TF and go from there.
    I use drop counts and treated at anything over 50 in a 24 hour period. Which is considered VERY high. Now I don't test, I treated my treated hives twice a year, once when the dearth is in full swing and the supers are off. Then again in late fall ending around thanksgiving for me. It's as easy to treat with OAV as it is to test for it and then treat. Now that I have some TF stock, I'm testing them and not treating, YET... I've got my fingers and toes crossed....
    Robbin NW Florida(8A) / 14 hives / 5 Nucs / 6th Year / T {OAV & MMK}

  7. #6
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    Warren County, NJ, USA
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    who cares if you already have the mindset that you do not want to treat? stick with it.
    if you will not be treating then dont waste your time testing. you will find yourself worrying too much.
    irresponsible? do some soul searching and figure out if your short-term goals line up and cascade into your long-term.

  8. #7
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    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    If you consider your colonies to be expendable, and you have the funds to purchase new bees each year, then start out on the non-treatment path if you wish. At the present time I have 14 colonies that are in my non-treatment group, but I also have 48 nucs as a back-up for those 14. If I lose all 14 it is no big deal, if you lose both of yours will you replace them or quit keeping bees?

    Before you join the treatment free movement you need to have a few years experience keeping bees and learning about bees. Start in the treatment camp, transition to the semi-treatment, and then if you are lucky and you find the right strain of bee go to treatment free.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  9. #8
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    Mar 2014
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    Medfield, MA, USA
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    I'm in the same boat with Charlie. Got a single hive that I would love to survive long enough to make splits off of, acquiring some genetics from whatever the local population is in the process. I recently tried the sugar-drop method as described by Randy Oliver and got 50 mites in 24 hours after dusting with powdered sugar, which is certainly higher than it was in the late spring but still a comfortable level. I will do two or three more like this and see how the curve is going, if numbers start spiking I'll probably use a quickstrip and give them some pollen supplement to try and beef them up for the winter, but if numbers stay low I'll avoid additional treatments and cross my fingers through the winter.
    P.S. In counting mites, you only count the deep red ones, right? I read somewhere that the brown ones are already dead and don't count towards the total, though they were only at maybe 1/3rd the number anyway.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    Angie, did you buy treatment free bees from the start? Or did your breeder treat and you're planning to be treatment free? If you did not buy treatment free bees, they will crash. Sooner or later. I bought treatment free bees from the beginning, and have never done mite counts nor treated. This is since 2005, and my hives are still going strong, other than the usual problems. But mites have never been a problem. I only saw deformed wing virus in one colony, and that was in my first year, but the colony pulled through that. But again, my bees were acquired from B. Weaver, who has never treated for mites in their operation. Check out their web site. Use that information as a measure to judge your bees, or any bees you would buy from a breeder.
    Regards,
    Steven
    "If all you have is a hammer, the whole world is a nail." - A.H. Maslow

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    Quote Originally Posted by AR Beekeeper View Post
    If you consider your colonies to be expendable, and you have the funds to purchase new bees each year, then start out on the non-treatment path if you wish. At the present time I have 14 colonies that are in my non-treatment group, but I also have 48 nucs as a back-up for those 14. If I lose all 14 it is no big deal, if you lose both of yours will you replace them or quit keeping bees?

    Before you join the treatment free movement you need to have a few years experience keeping bees and learning about bees. Start in the treatment camp, transition to the semi-treatment, and then if you are lucky and you find the right strain of bee go to treatment free.
    That sir is very sound advice.
    Colino
    But every sunday afternoon he is a dirt track demon
    In a '57 chevrolet- Jim Croce

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colino View Post
    That sir is very sound advice.
    Colino
    I am not so sure I would call that sound advice, because that is the same advice I got over, and over, and over. With the advice that if you don't treat your bees, they all will be dead in three years. I am grateful I didn't listen, or I would not have live treatment free bees, or I would be still trying to wean hives off of treatments. Unfortunately, many beekeepers who grasp this advice never become treatment free. Granted if Capps bees were treated from his supplier, just as well keep treating them at this stage.
    Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat ;)
    my ladies the best way I know how.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    >Which is considered VERY high.

    I would not consider it very high in the fall. I would consider it very high in the spring.

    The bottom line is if you keep bees you will lose bees. You will lose them sometimes when you treat. You will lose them sometimes when you don't treat. The fear of loss drives humans to do things to prevent loss even if it won't improve the odds. We feel like we have to do something even if it's wrong. In my experience treating does not improve the odds. Getting local feral survivors will improve the odds of getting through the winter for a number of reasons and is worth pursuing.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    Quote Originally Posted by fieldsofnaturalhoney View Post
    I am not so sure I would call that sound advice, because that is the same advice I got over, and over, and over. With the advice that if you don't treat your bees, they all will be dead in three years. I am grateful I didn't listen, or I would not have live treatment free bees, or I would be still trying to wean hives off of treatments. Unfortunately, many beekeepers who grasp this advice never become treatment free. Granted if Capps bees were treated from his supplier, just as well keep treating them at this stage.
    I just figure it's better to first learn to keep bees before trying to save the bee industry. Leave that part to the people who have the experience.
    Colino
    But every sunday afternoon he is a dirt track demon
    In a '57 chevrolet- Jim Croce

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colino View Post
    I just figure it's better to first learn to keep bees before trying to save the bee industry. Leave that part to the people who have the experience.
    Colino
    Awesome response.....
    Robbin NW Florida(8A) / 14 hives / 5 Nucs / 6th Year / T {OAV & MMK}

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    My treatment free bees started from treated stock in 2006. They have been in a Bond Yard until this year. I brought home 4 queens and raised daughters from them to head the 14 full sized colonies and the 32 nucs I keep in my home yard.

    In May the 4 queens and their colonies had 24 hour mite falls that ranged from a low of 32 to a high of 135. These colonies and their daughters have had high mite fall counts, but did not show evidence of mite damage until mid August when 2 or 3 had spotty brood patterns because of pupa being removed. Those patterns have improved and none have shown DWV damage. The mite drop counted on the 8th of this month ranges from 43 up to 112. The 14 colonies and 16 of the nucs will not be treated this year, the other 32 nucs I have will receive a treatment of Hopguard because they will be sold.

    When I went non-treatment I had 60 field colonies to choose from, and I selected 12 from those. I am what I would call semi-treatment in most of my bees, this means they receive a treatment once every 3 or 4 years if the drop counts become very high. My winter losses have ranged 8 to 13% in my home yard for full sized colonies and 15% in my nucs. All my bees were once what is called "treated bees", my Bond Yard bees included. My bees are all on Pierco plastic foundations, and no matter what you read on the forum, they thrive. They are fed sugar syrup without anything added if they are on short rations or if they are drawing out foundations with no flow on, otherwise they are left with frames of honey.

    Telling a beginning beekeeper not to treat their colonies when they only have 2 colonies and no nuc back-ups is poor advice. I doubt anyone here is willing to send them a few hundred dollars to replace their losses if they follow that advice, and then their colonies die. If they are lucky to have started with good strains of bees, and their bees survive the viruses the varroa carry, we pat ourselves on the back and say what good advice we give. If they die, we forget we ever said anything.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    If you want to be treatment free, when your colonies are dead then the mite populations were too high.... That being said, I think Treatment free is something to work towards, not jump into blindly. I only say that because of this, it takes bees to make bees, otherwise you're on someone else's schedule. Also, most people just sell queens, hard to requeen dead bees with good TF queens and 4-6 attendants. It's kind of why the 'bond' method makes no sense to me, especially if you're trying to build up. It's obvious when the bees aren't going to make it pretty quick, so treat them, then requeen, or remove the queen and let them try again, why waste all those resources.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    If you don't want to treat, why count?
    Mark Berninghausen

  19. #18
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    Big Grin Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    Quote Originally Posted by AR Beekeeper View Post
    Before you join the treatment free movement you need to have a few years experience keeping bees and learning about bees. Start in the treatment camp, transition to the semi-treatment, and then if you are lucky and you find the right strain of bee go to treatment free.
    I just don't understand the logic of this. Why can't one go about this (learning about keeping treatment fee bees),,at the same time? I don't think Capps is trying to save the bee industry, but save his bees,, who may not even be in "trouble", ,,,,but if he is.., KUDOS...,,. I personally don't waste resources if James "Bond" takes some of my hives to their demise. I redistribute the resources (smiling the whole time), knowing that they are still hopefully, treatment & disease free.

    It's all part of the bottom line as mentioned before, but all hives don't die because of mites, there are many other factors. Perhaps, COAL REAPER, has the right ideal
    Please excuse me, I am now free to go manage & treat ;)
    my ladies the best way I know how.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    The logic comes from new treatment free beeks coming in and knowing nothing about diseases cuz they are treatment free so why care about them. People who research treatments usually learn what to look for when treating, but at the same time are more prone to treat for everything needlessly just because that's what they heard what you need to do. Either system isn't perfect and beekeeping is too locational to preach one line of dogma.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Mite Count: What is considered "high" for those who do not want to treat?

    Quote Originally Posted by JRG13 View Post
    The logic comes from new treatment free beeks coming in and knowing nothing about diseases cuz they are treatment free so why care about them. People who research treatments usually learn what to look for when treating, but at the same time are more prone to treat for everything needlessly just because that's what they heard what you need to do. Either system isn't perfect and beekeeping is too locational to preach one line of dogma.
    TF beekeepers - and I hope to be one some day - need to recognize the issues they are not treating for. As I have said previously, I don't do anything for AFB - but I'm aware as someone who hasn't yet had it of what it looks (and smells!) like, and what the requirements are in Maine should it be discovered.

    I have no issues with someone starting out TF IF they are 1) they are doing regular inspections and 2) have resources/plans for dealing with things they don't recognize. A serious TF beekeeper should know the difference between something that the bees will have to deal with on their own and something that requires beekeeper action.

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