Fishy... No Varroa?
Results 1 to 19 of 19
  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    473

    Default Fishy... No Varroa?

    I've never done a sugar roll or alcohol test for varroa on my bees before today. So I cut out a piece of #12 mesh screen to fit under the lid of a jar... Mistake number one? Does #12 mesh work properly?
    I put in about 1.5 teaspoons of powder sugar, then found a frame that had about equal proportions of capped brood, uncapped brood, and eggs. Shook bees, measured 1/2 cup, dumped 'em in, rolled around for about 30-40 seconds and then let it sit for another minute or so. Then I thoroughly shook the contents into a plastic bag, let the bees go, and added some water into the bag to dissolve the sugar. Just little random specks of pollen and junk. No varroa. And I've seen varroa in the past on bees in the hive.. a few weeks before they crashed. I'm trying so hard to avoid being blindsided this year. I did an Oxalic dribble on this swarm after I confirmed the queen was laying (but before any capped brood). It's been maybe two and a half months since their install and they are really healthy spunky bees. Is my screen mesh size a problem or is it ok? I'm planning on doing a sugar roll on another hive to see what's up there.

    Thanks. I'm planning on ordering something like MAQS or Apivar but I just want to find at least one mite first. Unlike last year, I haven't seen a single mite yet... which is scary.
    Somebody forgot to give my bees a copy of the book.
    Zone 6B

  2. Remove Advertisements
    BeeSource.com
    Advertisements
     

  3. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Knox, Pa. USA
    Posts
    5,400

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    At 2.5 months it is possible the mite count may be low enough not to get mites on a random sampling in a sugar roll with a #12 screen. If in doubt do another. use a #8 screen

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Rib Lake WI
    Posts
    1,722

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    If you have a old package with the screen that will work if you can't find the number 8 hardware

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    473

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan the bee guy View Post
    If you have a old package with the screen that will work if you can't find the number 8 hardware
    I don't have any old packages. But I will have to find something.
    Somebody forgot to give my bees a copy of the book.
    Zone 6B

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    473

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tenbears View Post
    At 2.5 months it is possible the mite count may be low enough not to get mites on a random sampling in a sugar roll with a #12 screen. If in doubt do another. use a #8 screen
    Last year the swarm was less than 2.5 months old and I could see varroa everywhere. I think my targeted OAD really helped. But now I need to switch up treatments.
    Somebody forgot to give my bees a copy of the book.
    Zone 6B

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Guilford, CT
    Posts
    325

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    Do alcohol wash.

    Powdered sugar is not as gentle as we presume. Just kill 300 bees and get an accurate count.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    3,080

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    A sugar roll a couple of weeks back produced a zero count. I leave the bees in a jar longer, roll rather than shake, and I'll roll, rest, repeat several times.

    That nuc got treated with MAQS anyway and dropped 9 mites. The other hives also produced low drop. I credit a treatment last December with OAV, our relative isolation, and a breed of bees that copes with varroa pretty well on their own. The strongest hive never had a brood break this spring or summer and dropped the most mites by far (300-400).

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

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    I'd review the instructions for doing a sugar roll before coming to any conclusion:

    Choose your frame carefully (and consistently from test to test) to get mostly nurse bees. Try to choose a frame without a lot of loose nectar which will make the test less valid when the moisture gets on the bees when they are shaken off the frame- ideally they should be quite dry.

    Collect and get the to-be-sampled bees in the jar first, cover with the screened lid.

    Then add a good heaping hive-tool scoop of powdered sugar ( 2 tablespoons) to the jar, pushed and rubbed through the screen to break it up. (Fresh dry sugar is better than clumpy old damp stuff.)

    Roll the bees around in the jar steadily for one minute to distribute the sugar; hold the jar at a low angle: not so low the sugar comes out but low enough that the bees get really well-covered in sugar.

    Set the jar in the shade, upright, for two minutes.

    Invert the jar and shake fairly hard so the sugar falls out on to a clean white surface, for one minute. If you haven't got a white or very light colored collection surface, then lay down white paper towels and shake the sugar down on to that. I use a large litter box. Once you're done shaking and all the sugar is out, open the jar and dump the tested bees directly back into the colony. (This is better for them than being dumped on the ground as these are young nurse bees and may not be well-oriented.)

    Take a spritzer bottle of water and saturate the sugar to dissolve it, and count the revealed mites.

    The total number of mites seen should be divided by 300 to give you your "percentage of infestation". If you're hoping to keep your bees at lower than 2%, six mites would be your treatment threshold. Some people are OK with a 3% threshold and that's easy to remember: you are under the treatment threshold as long as you don't see more than 9 mites. So as long as you are in the single digits, you're good - but if you hit double digits, i.e. 10 or above - and it's time to treat. Easy to remember and no math involved!

    To prepare, Google up: Michigan mite monitoring method for the instructional .ppf. This is what I have described above, but with pictures. I was taught by Meghan Milbrath (MSU Ext.) at a NYBeeWellness conference in 2016. The way she did it, no additional mites were revealed using an alcohol test on the same bees after the sugar roll, so it proved as accurate as an alcohol wash, with no dead bees.

    The keys are starting with dry bees; sifting the sugar on top of them through the screen; rolling not shaking in the first stage (shaking makes them void and vomit dampening the sugar, which in turn prevents all the mites from being dislodged), then the wait period in the shade to allow the bees to heat up slightly which makes the mites let go of the bees. And finally the vigorous shaking to get all the sugar - and the mites - out and on to the white surface for counting.

    Betterbee also has a youTube of this on their channel.

    The only truly invalid test is the one you don't do because you are reluctant to harm your bees.

    If you work this into your routine inspections and do some sugar rolls on a few colonies each week, on a rotating basis throughout the season, you'll always have a pretty good idea of your yard's mite status. I try to sample each colony about once a month from April to October because I hate surprises!

    #12 screen is probably too fine and may keep back some mites so they aren't getting counted; I use #8.

    Good for you for testing - it's the first, but essential, step in getting healthier bees with fewer treatments.

    Nancy

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Auckland,Auckland,New Zealand
    Posts
    10,252

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    Hoping your bees don't have any mites, maybe they don't.

    But sugar rolls can be unreliable. I stopped using them after trying an experiment, which was to sugar shake some bees, then do an alcohol wash on the bees to see if any mites had not been removed by the sugar shake.

    The result told me not to mess with sugar shakes any more if I want the right answer.
    "Every viewpoint, is a view from a point." - Solomon Parker

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Sibiu, Romania
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    Sugar rolls are fine as long as you don't get nectar on the bees. If you have mites they will fall... no problem with that. I did alcohol wash after sugar and got just an extra mite falling. It maybe that in some areas you get maximum population of varroa once in two years. At least that's what happened in mine since I started beekeeping in 2013.
    Concentrate in doing a good treatment in the broodless period this year and then pay special attention to mite infestation in Spring/Summer. You may be surprised.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    53,922

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    If you do it like enjambres just explained a sugar shake is plenty accurate. Just allow for it to get 90% of the mites instead of 100%. If you don't do the pause and shake them vigorously enough, it can be inaccurate. What's the point of killing bees to be able to say your number is 100% instead of 90%. It only takes a short wait and a bit of attention to detail to get a useful number with the powdered sugar.
    Michael Bush bushfarms.com/bees.htm "Everything works if you let it." ThePracticalBeekeeper.com 42y 40h 39yTF

  13. #12
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Champaign, Illinois
    Posts
    2,461

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    The first year I got back into bees I did sugar shake mite-counts.
    Mainly it was to convince myself that "yup" they're here.

    The results were that "every single colony had some measurable level of mites and they all were at or above treatment threshold".

    So I treated every single colony that I could with MAQ's and had excellent survival.
    My sugar-shake tests were fairly accurate and uniform over a 25-30 colony test. Didn't bother with counting after that.
    They're here and not going anywhere soon.
    Internet credibility is an oxymoron

  14. #13
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    473

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    Thanks for the good information everybody and the comprehensive guide, Nancy.

    I did a sugar shake on another hive yesterday. I used a bigger mesh this time and let them sit longer after rolling the sugar around. 1 mite in a sample of 300 bees (1/2 cup).
    All but one of these hives were treated with OAD in a broodless period earlier, but all it takes is for the one hive to be robbed out and spread varroa through my other hives.

    Ordering Apivar tonight. (rotating my treatments)

    Some people might look down on that, but all I want is live bees next spring.
    Somebody forgot to give my bees a copy of the book.
    Zone 6B

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Sibiu, Romania
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    Don't need to count man. When you see more than one or two mites you have to act until it's too late.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Sibiu, Romania
    Posts
    192

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    Considering the low infestation I would try this paper towel AO thing and keep doing tests weekly... for the sake of science

  17. #16
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Guilford, CT
    Posts
    325

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    Quote Originally Posted by m0dem View Post

    Some people might look down on that, but all I want is live bees next spring.
    Honestly, I stopped doing counts.

    It's very unlikely mites will ever develop a resistance to OAV according to experts, and also its use outside US for 20+ yrs with no resistance. If done correctly I haven't found it to harm queens or laying.

    So I treat in Spring 1x.

    July/August 3x 5 days apart

    Nov 1x rarely.

    When I get Package 1x

    My winter survival has been so much better since this protocol.

  18. #17
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Washington, USA
    Posts
    473

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    Quote Originally Posted by asd View Post
    Considering the low infestation I would try this paper towel AO thing and keep doing tests weekly... for the sake of science
    Do you mean glycerol/oxalic shop towels or cardboard strips? Haven't tried that yet... maybe next year.
    Somebody forgot to give my bees a copy of the book.
    Zone 6B

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
    Location
    Lake Forest Park, WA
    Posts
    619

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    It is possible that your mites are still under detectable level.

    In my limited experience (3 rd year, max 2 hives at a time, either from a package or treated with OAV during winter), I have hardly detected any mites by sugar roll before mid July. This year, not even in early August. But when I did not treat or failed to treat effectively in August, numbers got quite high by mid September (3-10 mites/0.5 cup bees). It seems to me that at least one treatment is necessary before the winter OAV treatment. I have not decided when.

    2 years ago, I postponed treatment until I consistently detected >3 mites / 0.5 cup bees by sugar roll (one hive in mid September and the other in early October). About 1000 mites fell during the 1 st 3 days of MAQS (both hives were later treated with OAV in winter and survived). This year I did MAQS on my two hives on 8/11, before mites became detectable. About 100 mites fell during the first 3 days. I do not know if treating this early was the right decision but if mite counts do not rebound too much before winter OAV, I 'll probably do the same next summer.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Manassas, Virginia, USA
    Posts
    3,080

    Default Re: Fishy... No Varroa?

    Kuro, we don't have a long-term history of that same strategy, but we've been doing pretty much that, with excellent results.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •