Suddenly High Varoa Count
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    York, ME
    Posts
    17

    Default Suddenly High Varoa Count

    First year hive, 2 brood boxes (deeps), no supers, Maine
    Sugar shake, late Aug, bees from brood frame, no mites
    Sticky Board, Aug/Sept, initially 24hr checks, 0-3 mites
    Sticky Board, Sept/Oct, pull once a week to inspect, 3-8 mites
    Sticky Board, this week's inspection, 80+ mites!

    Say 85 mites / 7 Days = aprox. 12 mites in a 24hr period

    Do I treat?

    Thnx

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Pottstown, Pennyslvania, USA
    Posts
    724

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    I the hive was mine, I would oxalic acid vaporize it at once.
    Dan Boylan, When in doubt "It's mites".

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Knox Co, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,244

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    Could it be that there is no longer any brood in the hive? The mites may be out where the bees can groom them off.

    Treating may be something you consider. Do you have a local mentor? Or, local bee club?

    Tom

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    Re-sticky board at once and check it every 24 hours. I have sticky-boarded almost constantly for more than a year (yes even in the winter, too!) and have had days, or even a day or two, when there was a huge shedding of mites, before it went back down to "normal" steady numbers.

    Also get in there and do another sugar roll, which will give numbers on a different kind of scale, but is very useful as a companion/counterpoint to passive mite drop counts. I know it's going to be cool and possibly wet this week, but don't put it off if you can possibly avoid that. You need as much information as possible to make a decision about treating.

    And, I would also immdiately start to acquire what was needed for treatment. In the case of OAV (which is one of the only remaining treatment possibilities in a cold climate): vaporizer, the OAV itself (sold as wood bleach at the hardware store), proper mask and eye protection and information about how to do it it properly.

    If your high count was a single day's (or two's) aberration and your sugar roll shows only a low level, then you can stand down. But if they are the sentinels of truly big problem, you don't have too much more time to act.

    I know lots of beekeepers who figure if they've treated in late summer, and maybe checked once afterward that they needn't concern themselves any further. But this year, at least in my area of northern NY, there are many reports of late surges in the numbers. Good for you to have continued monitoring!

    I treated on Aug. 1; then saw a sudden sharp rise in mid-September, treated again. But now numbers are rising again. The two rounds of MAQS didn't do the trick as well as I had expected. I'm hoping that the OAV I'm tryng now will work.

    Good luck!

    Enj.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    York, ME
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    TWall, the possibility of a brood break also occurred to me yesterday. Is it possible the bees will groom sufficiently on their own and this is why I'm seeing this spike in sticky board count? Just seems the what I've been familiar in my readings that it's late for mite treatments at this point.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    York, ME
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    enjambres, thanks for the input as well. I reset the sticky board yesterday, so will inspect it today/tomorrow. Unfortunately I won't be able to get back in the brood box during daytime until next weekend. OAV seems all the rage on this forum, not sure if I'm ready to do that, are there any other options for this time of year?

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Aberdeen, Idaho
    Posts
    1,148

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    Sticky board counts are highly undependable. If you have ants they will clean the mites off as fast as they fall. This will give you a false sense of security. I do not have much more faith in sugar rolls. I would do alcohol washes. They are much more dependable.
    Dave

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    I have only used three types of treatment: ApiGuard, MiteAway Quick Strips and (just yesterday for the first time), OAV.

    ApiGuard (a commerical preparation/concentrated form of thymol) is a 28-day treatment, and I think the temps would be too low at the tail end for it to be effective for you. It also requires that the full entrance be left open during the entire treatment which may not be good for you, either. (It wouldn't work for me, I am north of Albany, NY.) It was effective for me last Sept. (2013). The little pots are set on the top frames of the upper most box. (One little pot every 14 days, twice in succession.)

    MAQS: A I mentioned above I used a two-strip dose starting on August 1, and again, (but only a single strip, per revised package instruction) on Sept. 15th. Neither on caused any queen loss (a somewhat frequently reported risk) nor problems with brood. Both of these issues would be catastrophic at this time of year. But while neither instance caused problems, they didn't solve my mite issues particularly well, either. The active ingredient is formic acid. The length of treatment is only 7 days. The lower temp range (which is most important for you at this time of year) is 50F day time highs. Where I am, starting this Saturday I could probably eke out a week with high temps in the low 60s. The first two to four days are the ost critical, I think. You have to insert the material at the brood nest position within the stack. You can reportedly leave the pad in there afterwards, but I would have concerns at this season that it might (because of where it is on the frames) eventually interfere with winter clustering in the center of the box. My bees also began to chew it up for removal after the week was out, which made me want to remove it. You also need to have the front entrance completely open for the entire treatment period. I am pretty sure that 1/4" mesh hardware cloth mouseguard would be OK, but not the mousegaurds that have more metal blocking the entrance. The temps when I treated in August were in the high 70s, to 81 or 82 F; the temps in September were in the low to mid 70s. As I mentioned the strips worked, but there was siginificant rebound of the mite population afterward, requiring re-treatment. This has been a really bad year for mite, so that may not always happen.

    FWIW, I always run w/anti-robbing screens so I wasn't getting robbed, but there is always the possibility the my giirls were robbing another colony that was in the process of mite-crashing. That may have been the source of the rebounding mites. I have no way of knowing, all I can do is keep checking and then deal with the facts as I find them.

    OAV: Of course, NOT approved for bee treatment here in the US, though it is in Canada and the EU and thus has a substantial amount of data behind its use. I bought the equipment last year, but shilly-shallyed about using it, until this past weekend. You are correct, there are a lot of (apparently) satisfied users here on BS. One good thing is that it can be done w/o disrupting the hive stack, and equally good, it can be done in temps as low as 40F. (Though on my first attempt this weekend I had somewhat less-than-optimal experience, perhaps partly because my air temps were @ 50F - at the lower end, 40F, it might be even less successful.) I have a thread up now asking for comments, that may be useful for you to read.
    With less than 24 hrs experience, I can't say whether I feel it is more successful, or not. But I have hopes. I studied (and not just here on BS) as many reports as I could on OAV, and feel comfortable using it despite it's lack of formal registration as a pesticide. YMMV, of course, and I won't try to advocate one way or the other.

    Perhaps others will chime in with other treatment options, suitable for northern bees in late October.

    Keep checking that sticky (daily if possible during this period), and do a roll this weekend. I doubt you will get much chance to treat for the next few days, but you can think about what to do - and lay in supplies, just in case you need to.

    Bonus advice: I have been told that MAQS, which come with a short-ish use-by date can be stored in a freezer to prolong their effective life. Freezing apparently "pauses the expiration clock", which only resumes once it's defrosted again. OTOH, one of the troubling things about MAQS is the number of reports of sharply divergent problems: some (like me) are not seeing as effective kill as hoped for, while others are seeing some queen loss and brood damage. This has caused me to wonder whether there are some inherent differences in the product either arising from manufacturing issues, or subsequent storage issues. I really don't know.

    I also don't know where you are in ME, which I think will be a crucial issue in deciding what possibilities you have for treating.

    If you do decide to use OAV, I urge you not to skimp on your personal protective gear: get a good mask with an organic vapor/acid gas filter, and eye protection. Of all the issues surrounding OAV, it seems to me that operator health and safety may be the most significant.

    Enj.
    Last edited by enjambres; 10-20-2014 at 12:51 PM.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    3,796

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    Will you remind us where you are located in Maine?

  11. #10
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    York, ME
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    York, ME - Coastal

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Washington County, Maine
    Posts
    3,796

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    You are much to my South. Are you expecting the temperature to be warm enough this coming weekend to get into your hive? It is 61F here now (plenty warm enough) but the next few days look to be significantly cooler. I have been applying Hop Guard II, based on comments made by Tony Jadczak (State Apiarist for Maine) at Bee School in Machias this year.

    Look at mainebeekeepers.org to find out about the club for your area. If you strike out with clubs try the newly elected VP for the MSBA Richard McLaughlin - his contact information is at mainebeekepers.org. When I just checked he was still listed as the MSBA Treasurer. He (or his wife Peggy) should be able to help you out.

    I did some detailed inspections on four of my hives in Trenton last week. 1 had shut down brood completely and had no drones. 3 had fist size patches of brood and a few drones. Based on our geographical difference I would guess you have 1-2 frames of brood (meaning there will mites emerging from brood) so you will want to use a treatment that either penetrates cell cappings to kill mites there, or multiple applications of products that are effective on phoretic mites only.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    Charlotte, NC
    Posts
    1,694

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    I use olive oil on my sticky board and find as many ants as mites. After this year my sticky-boards will be retired. I intend to switch to an alcohol shake. When the OAV treatment was done, my mite counts went sky high. I don't think the sticky board tell how many mites there are it just tells how many mites drop.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    York, ME
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    Thanks for all of the advice, I will continue to monitor through this week/weekend and in the meantime read up on my options for treatment. The primary thing I want to get out of this is not to panic and rather read/think through this realizing that I have options.

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Keene, NH, USA
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    Hi, Twilsey. I live in NH and had a similar experience this fall. The thread is here if you wish to see it.
    https://www.beesource.com/forums/show...TF-until-today

    Good luck,
    John
    11 yrs, TF 6 yrs, moved to OAV in 2014, MAQS 2016. 6 hives and 5 nucs Zone 4B
    www.nhbees.wordpress.com

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Manning, SC
    Posts
    5,248

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    Quote Originally Posted by Twilsey View Post
    OAV seems all the rage on this forum, not sure if I'm ready to do that
    Hi....what are your objections to OAV? It does not harm brood, bees, queen or contaminate the comb. You can use it anytime temps are 40f & above...
    http://OxaVap.com Your source for the ProVap 110
    OA Vaporizer. The fastest vaporizer on the market!

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    boone county indiana
    Posts
    148

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    I think 12 mites in 24 hours in 2 deeps isn't too bad? Assuming you have bees on most frames and good stores.

    If you are trying to feed this hive and they need it but aren't taking it, then I'd be more concerned.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Location
    York, ME
    Posts
    17

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    thanks eyeshooter, I have not had a chance to read through your thread but I will certainly do that.

    mbevanz, when I pulled the top cover this past weekend the hive was PACKED with bees, I fed them 50#s of sugar in the form of 2:1 syrup in Sept/Oct, stores are good now, no more feeding. I tend to agree with your opinion that perhaps this mite count is not too bad, at least not so bad to panic. Will continue to weigh my options over this week.

    snl,
    I have one hive, so purchasing OAV equipment is likely not my intention, if anything I may consider the dribble method. Primarily I just don't know allot about treating varroa, or beekeeping for that matter :-), and this forum seems to be very quick to say Oxalic Acid is the answer. Maybe I don't even need to treat, what's your opinion on that?

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Manning, SC
    Posts
    5,248

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    Quote Originally Posted by Twilsey View Post
    snl,
    I have one hive, so purchasing OAV equipment is likely not my intention, if anything I may consider the dribble method. Primarily I just don't know allot about treating varroa, or beekeeping for that matter :-), and this forum seems to be very quick to say Oxalic Acid is the answer. Maybe I don't even need to treat, what's your opinion on that?
    I think that if you treated with OAV, you'd find a lot more of mite drop than you currently are seeing.... Is there someone around who has a vaporizer you could borrow?
    http://OxaVap.com Your source for the ProVap 110
    OA Vaporizer. The fastest vaporizer on the market!

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    This is only my second year, and I recall last year that I was very reluctant to treat - and still clinging to my hope (fantasy?) that my bees would escape the scourge of mites.

    But when my mite counts got over 8/ day early September last year, I started to get worried. Then they went higher, so I decided to treat only the hive with the high counts (w/ ApiGuard). A few weeks later another one started to surge up and that event taught me a very valuable lesson: even though I was at that point willing to treat I didn't have enough time left to do a full and effective course before it got too cold to treat. I did what I could with the time (and temperatures) that I had left, but I had a more difficult time than necessary this summer because I began the year with more mites. Which I could have prevented had I treated all three of my hives the previous Fall.

    While you only have one hive, the principle is the same: what you do now, while helping your hive survive the long winter, will also have big benefits next year.

    Is 12/mites per day high? A one-time event covering only a day could be explained by a big flush of brood emerging and lot of mites moving around with fewer cells to invade. But that number repeated over several days just indicates a high mite level, period. And for me, it is above the treatment threshold. When you do a roll this weekend you will have a better idea of your infestation rate. When hives are extra-packed with bees, mite drop counts are distorted (upwards) by the higher number of bees, so rolls are more realistic assessments.

    While I agree that you want to make an informed and considered decision, the most exigent factor is the thing which you can't control: the steady, inexorable, march into winter and the start of temperatures too-cold for effective treating. The farther along in the season you get, the fewer options you have. And the choices you make now will (assuming your hive makes it through winter) largely determine your mite levels starting out next summer.

    I did sticky boards all winter last year. As a rule I had only a very low level of mites/day (ranging from 0-3, mostly just 1 or 2). Then in mid-January it went to zero in all three hives. Did the mites suddenly die off? (That's what I thought, at first.) Nope, they had managed to hang on long enough to the point when the bees began to raise their very small amounts of early brood, and then the mites joyfully leapt into the nearly-capped cells and started the whole wretched mite-cycle all over again.

    I looks to me like we, at least here in NY, will be having (after this cool, wet, week) another week or two of moderate (for the season) weather. So you should have a bit of time to deal with your mites. Mid-to-end of November looks cold, however.

    Enj.
    Last edited by enjambres; 10-21-2014 at 09:30 AM.

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Keene, NH, USA
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: Suddenly High Varoa Count

    It seems to me that you are past the time to use most other treatment methods and your choice now is down to treat with OA or do not treat at all. I was TF for 6 years. Ignoring mite counts last year cost me 18 of 21 hives this spring (my 7th season). I had mite drop counts of 10-12 this past month and finally bit the bullet and used OA as it seems to be the least harmful to queens, bees and brood and overall least disruptive to the hive when one uses a vaporizer. I have now counted a total well over 5,000 dead mites in my 4 hives after using OAV. That was starting from similar mite counts as yours. I have only used OAV for the past month and cannot tell you that this will ensure that your bees will survive winter but I can tell you I believe my bees would not have survived if I did not treat.

    Ask your local club if anyone has a vaporizer your may borrow or if they will teach you the technique. It is not hard or time consuming unless you have lots of hives. My 3rd treatment took 35 minutes to treat 4 hives. If cost is an issue, there are also threads on BS that describe using candles etc instead of a vaporizer to treat. Just remember to use proper protection if you use OA.

    Next year I intend to again not treat during the season and hope to not have to use OA in the fall. If I do, I will as my saddest day as a beekeeper was opening all of those hives last spring and finding 18 hives of dead bees.

    Good luck,

    John
    11 yrs, TF 6 yrs, moved to OAV in 2014, MAQS 2016. 6 hives and 5 nucs Zone 4B
    www.nhbees.wordpress.com

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