If you don't want to apply oxalic acid, why don't you try otger acids, like lemmonade or lactic acid?
Surely lemmonade won't do any damage , after all, it is quite common to drink herbal tea with honey and lemmon.
And lactic acid is present in jogurth, etc.
Hey Grant, went to Dan's house before xmas, nice guy, we spent about a hour yaking about bees. I ended up buying some honey, candles and bees, yup bees. I'm gonna get a pkg of Russians, plus a certified pure nuc. I also signed up for his bee classes, the more we know the better and he seems like a guy I would like to learn from. Wrapped both my Warre's with tar paper and wrapped my lang with styrene foam board, hoping to help with the wind and cold, put some insulation in the top bar also. The lang is the only one with bees actively flying when it gets warm, my warre's seemed to decline rapidly when it got real cold, below zero already around here. The lang is a treatment free, overwintered nuc I picked up in July and top bar is from a swarm I caught in a tree from one of my warre's , neither of these built up much, probably the drought hurt them with reduced forage. Dan said this was the first time in over a decade he wasn't able to take excess honey in Sept. because of the drought conditions. Hopefully some of mine make the winter. Talk later.
I just sent out my order form to Dan for 2 nucs. My last colony didn't make it. Most likely due to mites and then freezing with a small population. Plenty of honey though! Here in Dudley the drought wasn't as severe as other parts of the state.
I remember reading a really interesting article about wrapping Warre hives in tar paper. Conclusion being not to wrap. From this guys research he found that it was only a marginal difference in temp but made a surprising difference in the ability of the hive to properly manage hive humidity. Hay bales placed at the north side of the box, if I remember correctly, was the best over wintering strategy. Wish I knew where I read the article. Just thought I would share, thought it was interesting. I have also read recently of someone actually placing thermostatically controlled heaters in each of his hives............
That's too bad about your bees, like I said, the lang has bees coming and going when it gets warm, cleansing flights based on the drops all over my truck. I will maybe see a couple hanging around the warre but not many. I would think the quilt would deal with the evaporation of moisture, controlling the humidity, I actually made a quilt box for my lang and a vented roof, saw on another site a bunch of lang owners have done it also. One woman believed doing that was the main reason she went through last winter without any losses, but what do I know. So Grant, during my conversation with Dan I got the idea he didn't care much for the warre hive, he thought it was a difficult hive for inspections and general bee management, and after this first year I think he's right. That's why I have different hives, going in the lang and top bar was way easier, not giving up on the warre, but not adding on to them. I'll be putting the bees I get this spring into lang hives, I'm already getting stuff together to build some. I don't work from Dec. thru Mar. , going back to work the middle to end of April so I have lots of time to play around with stuff. Looking forward to spring and another go at this bee business.
I don't think your decline in bee activity has to do with it being a Warre. That's likely coincidence. Did you start it from a package?
Anyway I am invested in Warres right now so I'm sticking with them. I plan on doing splits if next year goes well.
I also have a converter so I can put nuc frames in the top and let the bees work down to the bars.
Fyi Ken Warchol tells me the top bar hives don't do well in cold climates like New England.
I first tried Warres floor and it was a nightmare, for me the floor was always wet, not damp but soaking wet. Even though the floor slopped to the front it made no difference. Delons floor is open the entire width of the hive which provides enough ventilation to keep them dry. I stopped wrapping hives when I found out it made very little difference in my area. A different floor is a must in my location, one that provides enough ventilation to keep things dry. As for a heater, well sounds good but... totally unnecessary. There are many threads here explaining why.
Stephen 40+ hives. 6th year. Treat. Germany.
Grantsbees, I don't know if anyone ever answered your original question regarding powder sugar treatments for mites. Aside from what Randy at scientificbeekeeping says about it, I am using it in my topbar hives, with much success. I am a chemical treatment free beekeeper, but I do practice "manipulations" of the colony that would make me not fall under a strict "treatment free" heading as listed in the Beesource forum or the Facebook group.
All mine are topbar hives with screened bottoms that have a solid IPM board underneath. The first year, I used oil on the bottom board to look for mites. Didn't like the hydrocarbon smell coming from my wonderful beehive so after a bit of research from the gardening realm (I have a horticulture degree), I started using diatomaceous earth on the bottom boards (which are bee tight so the bees can't roll around in it). Has been very interesting to see what ends up in the dust: adult small hive beetles, wax moths, larvae of both as well as any mites that are groomed off the bees. The dust needs to be nice and fluffy to have an affect on the critters that drop through. I live in the very humid south, so that means changing it almost weekly during the active bee season.
Aside from running the DE on the solid bottom boards as long as the summer heat will allow (they typically come out late July), I am doing a monthly powder sugar shake of each comb in each colony. This is not just the lite dusting between frames that I see mentioned in the Lang hive articles. Each topbar comb is brought out of the hive with one wooden end resting on the top of the other bars. The comb is tipped back at an angle and both sides dusted with my one handed Oxo sifter that has plain store bought Domino powered sugar in it. It is important not to put the dust down in the cells with the larvae as it gums up the works. But with the bar basically upside down and tipped at an angle, the cells are tipped the other way to this method works well. If I spot the queen on a side of comb, I make sure I am very careful with dusting on that side because the dust can make the bees loses their footing and I don't want her to end up falling off the comb. By the time I am done, I have thousands of little ghost bees buzzing in the hive cleaning each other off. After an hour, everyone is clean and I change out the DE on the bottom so the sugar does not bring ants.
I also employ a brood break in each hive right around the summer solstice in June. Since I make overwintering nucs, I pull the original queen to nuc and let the big hive re-queen. While they are in the broodless period, I do the sugar shakes once a week to really knock down the mite population going into fall. Sometimes the original queen gets returned to the big hive, and sometimes she doesn't. (Depends if she is my "breeder queen" for that particular queen line)
I will also pull drone comb at key times during the season if I see a heavy mite load in a hive. I don't do it often, as I am queen rearing all season long, so I don't like to pick on the drones, but you will see some colonies need a little more help than others in regards to mite control. I've bought ankle biter queens, sam comfort queens, TF queens, and bred my own from a local beekeeper. None of the queen lines are able to control the mites completely without additional manipulations, which I don't mind doing in order to be chemical treatment free.
As to the heaters, I will use the ones from warmbees.com for the fall-made overwintering nucs that are very tiny with lite stores. They do not have the "bee mass" to keep the cluster adequately warm even for our mild winters. But having these overwintered nucs gives me mated queens very early in the spring to use for splits.
There are a couple of topbar hive beekeepers up in New England that are overwintering their bees, but I don't know of any Warre beekeepers.
I agree, the decline is not because it's a warre, just the health of those bees and environmental factors. I built my two warre's and top bar myself with plans from other sources and am into them for about $70, pretty cheap way to give other hive designs a look at. My bees were package bees I got from the president of the Hampden county beekeepers ass. the lang came as a nuc from a guy in Wilbraham. This past Aug. Eversource had a company spray a herbicide on the power line right of way that boarders my property. I met with the foreman and walked the right of way with him while he explained the process, telling me the bees would be ok, said his Dad was also a beek and understood my concerns. I'm sure that spraying had a effect on my hives, can't see how it wouldn't, but there was no way I could stop it, just hope for the best.
The fact that you have a local nuc colony vs a southern package colony is a significant one. Southern bred commercial bees have a lot going against them when the northeast winters hit.
So being in the low 50's here yesterday the bees were out flying around crapping all over our cars. There were no bees out of the warre's or top bar so I cracked them open for a look, sadly both were dead, and almost no honey in either of the hives which is surprising, the two warre's had two top boxes on each that weighed about 35lbs in early Sept. The lang from a local nuc although only in one 8frame deep was bustling with bees, no more southern packages for me, not saying that's the only reason that the others didn't make it but I'm sure the 6 below zero temps on Monday has a harsher effect on them compared to this over wintered treatment free nuc I have. The top bar was a swarm that was hived in July and with the extreme drought they never built up enough stores, and with me working dark to dark all fall maybe the warre's were robbed out and I didn't notice, I don't know. I do know that during a early Oct inspection I was surprised at how few bees were in the warre's.
Welcome to the club, lostboy. I'm done with packages also. I'm surprised you didn't end up with any honey. My single Warre dead-out left me with over a gallon and a half of honey (once I crushed and strained it). I'm not sure how many pounds that is.
Glad to hear your TF lang is doing well though. Where did you get those bees?
I'm looking forward to my Russian nucs this coming season. If you want to stick with the Warre, you can make a lang nuc to Warre box. That's my plan.
Regarding the honey, I'm surprised too, when I did the oa treatment ending in early Sept I had lifted the two top boxes off the warre's and put cardboard under them to shield them from the vapor just in case I was able to take some honey, so I know they were full of honey, that's why I'm wondering if they were robbed out in late fall. I only looked in the upper box on each one and there was some honey but not much, maybe more in the lower two boxes, but they felt light. Although Dan said the Russian bees are by no means a cure all I'm looking forward to another shot at this also. I also signed up for his classes which I'm sure will benefit me, plus might give me a little more access to him for help. I've talked to about four different beeks in my travels this year who've gotten bees from him and all seemed to be doing good, one from Maine. I'm also sure judging from our conversations the skill and experience of the keepers had a lot to do with their success. I got the nuc from a guy in Wilbraham Ma. he's been keeping bees since childhood in Poland, treatment free because he's cheap. He pulls every ounce of honey every year and feeds only sugar all winter, says a pound of sugar is cheaper than a pound of honey, I don't agree with that but he had fourteen hives that were all expanding. Seeing Dans nuc is in a lang I built a bunch of lang 8 frame medium boxes for his bees, I also built quilt boxes and warre style tops for them and will manage them like a warre, foundationless. I built a couple boats and paddleboards, one boat a 16ft mahogany runabout that looks like a chriscraft so bee hives are easy, and I don't work all winter so it gives me something to do