Sugar dusting during New England winter?
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Keene, NH, USA
    Posts
    254

    Default Sugar dusting during New England winter?

    A newbie beekeeper recently posted one of her 4 hives died and that she realizes she should have treated. While I'm not wanting this to become a treat/non-treat debate, she asked what she could do NOW to treat her hives. Our temps have been as low as -20 this month but seem to have become more "normal" and recently average in the 30s with a couple of days coming in the 40s. Lows in the low teens. It has both rained and snowed this week...One of the experienced beeks wrote that she could do sugar dusting on a "warmer" day. Really? She has no idea what her mite load is (tho' she did loose a colony to mites) and it seems to me having to suddenly do the grooming required for sugar dusting totally disrupts the cluster and with winter humidity could be a disaster. Has anyone heard or tried this? Comments please...
    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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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Lottsburg, Virginia USA
    Posts
    1,804

    Default Re: Sugar dusting during New England winter?

    In my humble opinion if you wish to waste money on sugar dusting just mail the sugar money to Dominoes Sugar as it will save a lot of useless work, see if the newbee can borrow or get someone to help with an OAV treatment on a day over 45 degrees. No guarantee that the hive will survive if already compromised by the mites but that treatment if done correctly will kill 99% of the mites and the colony might stand a chance.
    Johno

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Mtn. View, Arkansas, USA
    Posts
    2,814

    Default Re: Sugar dusting during New England winter?

    I would not sugar dust unless the weather is warm enough that the colony is freely flying.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Isle of Wight, VA
    Posts
    2,836

    Default Re: Sugar dusting during New England winter?

    I don't know that 40's are warm enough to be thinking about opening a hive to do sugar dusting. Here in VA, our winter days are frequently in the 50's with bees flying. Jan 1 of 2017, I was doing a sugar dusting on one hive that I saw had flying workers with actual mites on them (have a video if you are interested). But for New England during the winter, I would not recommend doing it now. The sugar shake did allow that hive to recover and they did great for the 2017 season.

    As for the timing of my sugar dustings, I do them every month on every comb during the regular bee season. The Jan dusting was an extra one as that hive had been failing and I did a late fall requeening and they needed some extra help. I'm also using screened bottom boards with a solid IPM board underneath that is covered in Diatomaceous Earth to trap the little buggers that fall off. Don't want them to reinfest the bees.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,536

    Default Re: Sugar dusting during New England winter?

    OA dribble is also a possibility even in quite cold weather, as in the 30s F, if the beekeeper doesn't have OAV equipment. But OAV would be my preference because there is no need to break apart the boxes and the propolis seals. (You could tape the box meeting points afterward with 3M Original Blue Painters' Tape, if necessary.)

    I would not sugar dust when the bees couldn't actively fly most days, which does not usually occur in New England in January, February and through the first two-thirds of March. (Some years, like last year, it is different.)

    Nancy

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Keene, NH, USA
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: Sugar dusting during New England winter?

    Agreed. I use properly timed brood breaks and OAV for my treatments during the season and this made absolutely no sense to me for so many reasons. The beek that suggested it however is very highly respected in our area and I just needed to make sure I am not missing anything before I call him to discuss. I also would hesitate to use a drench this time of year for our local hives. I have temp sensors in my hives and with the exception of right where the bees are, internal hive temps are in the 30s, plus I would prefer not to add to any potential humidity issues.
    11 yrs, TF 6 yrs, moved to OAV in 2014, MAQS 2016. 6 hives and 5 nucs Zone 4B
    www.nhbees.wordpress.com

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Suffolk Co, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,742

    Default Re: Sugar dusting during New England winter?

    Your experienced beek is right, but that 'warmer day' may not come for a month or two. Probably too late for a ailing colony.
    I agree with what everyone here has said regarding treatment, especially OAV on the next high 30's day. Do it blind (no mite count).
    The drench when done in cold weather will seriously compromise a already weakened and probably small clustered colony.

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