does a stickyboard really tell anything?
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  1. #1
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    Question does a stickyboard really tell anything?

    Is there some key to using a board? I've heard that a count may be large -- so you'd think there's a big problem -- but it could be that the bees're actually just good groomers. Conversely, a low count may make you think all's fine, but the bees're in reality not grooming well and there could be a big mite pop. Any ideas/suggestions? Is it a matter of regularly using the board and establishing if there's a trend? Keeping up with colony behavior? Thx .....

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Colorado Springs, CO, USA
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    Default Re: does a stickyboard really tell anything?

    You use it for trending data, is the mite count going up in your hive to a point where you need to treat.

  4. #3
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    Default Re: does a stickyboard really tell anything?

    A single sticky board count means nothing. The trend line on weekly sticky board counts is highly useful.

    The bees will have a constant "grooming" factor (absent a change of queens), so what you would see is the increase, ro decrease in the rate of "stupid" mites who fall off on their own. That will give you a mite population reading, which si what you want to pay attention to. None of the counting methods (short of euthanizing the bees and counting the mites off their dead bodies) give anything other than an analog count of the mite population. Some methods are better in differing circumstances, and bee and/or mite population levels. But all of them done regularly (and recorded) will yield actionable information.

    I do both weekly sticky boarding (love to pick through my hive trash to see what else is going on) and sugar rolls during the warm months.

    Enj.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: does a stickyboard really tell anything?

    A sticky board can sometimes give you an indication of changing mites population in the hive, but I would not rely on a sticky board alone to determine the level of mites in your hives. Perform either an alcohol wash or sugar roll for a much more accurate assessment. As you mentioned, counts can sometimes be deceiving depending on other factors.

    Sticky boards can be useful to monitor mite drop while the hives are being treated, you should see a dramatic increase in fallen mites on the board during and after treatment.
    To everything there is a season....

  6. #5
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    Default Re: does a stickyboard really tell anything?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Gillmore View Post
    Sticky boards can be useful to monitor mite drop while the hives are being treated, you should see a dramatic increase in fallen mites on the board during and after treatment.
    This is what i came here to say. When i am treating with MAQS i swap out a solid bottom board for a screened one with a clean board inserted. It just makes me feel good to see that the treatment is working.
    -- Joe
    "Make your own decision and embrace the consequences." -- jwcarlson

  7. #6
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    May 2014
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    Belmont, Michigan
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    Default Re: does a stickyboard really tell anything?

    Nancy, I have some questions regarding your use of sticky boards.

    Do you review each hives sticky board each week, and do you record what you see?

    Do you replace the board each week, or do you clean it off in preparation of the next week?

    What is your board cleaning agent?

    The Sign board material, corrugated plastic sheets, 24"x18" 4mm Thick for Yard Signs and Poster Board Sheets, does this make
    replaceable sticky boards when cut to size and sprayed with vegetable oil (Pam)?

    Can you briefly touch on what things your observing on the sticky board other than mites?

    Thank you Nancy for your valuable input!

  8. #7
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    Default Re: does a stickyboard really tell anything?

    Quote Originally Posted by rick54 View Post
    Nancy, I have some questions regarding your use of sticky boards.

    Do you review each hives sticky board each week, and do you record what you see?

    Do you replace the board each week, or do you clean it off in preparation of the next week?

    What is your board cleaning agent?

    The Sign board material, corrugated plastic sheets, 24"x18" 4mm Thick for Yard Signs and Poster Board Sheets, does this make
    replaceable sticky boards when cut to size and sprayed with vegetable oil (Pam)?

    Can you briefly touch on what things your observing on the sticky board other than mites?

    Thank you Nancy for your valuable input!
    We put in a sticky board wait three days, then record the mite count. I wash off the sticky board with a high pressure hose, let it dry and reuse it a 2nd and 3rd time. Again we wait three days for each reading and observe the trend.

    I only look for mites on the sticky board...

  9. #8
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    May 2014
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    Belmont, Michigan
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    Default Re: does a stickyboard really tell anything?

    Thanks Jeff for your reply. A high pressure hose, is that like in pressure washer? You stated "reuse it a 2nd and 3rd time." does this mean that you discard it after the 3rd time? I know that replacements can be purchased through bee supply houses for about $4 + shipping. Having read some of Nancy's comments, I find see is a pretty avid believer and user of sticky boards, so I can see where someone like her would go through a fair number of boards year round. Thus my question regarding the corrugated plastic sheet sign material, thinking it might hold-up better and be cheaper to purchase. Hopefully Nancy can chime in on this discussion and share with us what she uses in the way of sticky boards and her procedure on their use.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: does a stickyboard really tell anything?

    I use three or four day counts. Four days are better from the mite counting perspective, but sometimes the debris is too thick for getting a good count.

    I use ordinary cooking oil that has gotten a bit stale for kitchen use. One tablespoon or so smeared around on the board works well. (I use a paper towel for the spreading, with a little bit more oil to start a series of board changes, and a little less when the carry-over from earlier boards in on the paper towel. Oil is kept outside, near the hives in a squeeze bottle.

    Boards are go in for three days (or four when debris fall is light) and are read on the designated day for mites, and looked over a bit. Then I put the boards back in to collect more debris which I look at more closely as I have time over the next few days.

    Then I scrape them off using a metal-bladed, straight edge painter's shield, which cleans the junk off in a couple of swipes. Debris is scraped off into a closed metal trash can in spring, summer and fall to avoid letting any SHB larvae reach the soil to pupate. In the winter I scrape on to frozen grass or snow.

    I do not wash them between uses, and after four or five consecutive oilings I don't re-oil them every time, either, as enough residual oil stays on the board after scraping to catch and hold things. I do wash them in hot soapy water about every two. or three months. If they get too skanky I scrape them with a razor blade and bleach 'em.

    My sticky board slots are tightly closed at all times to prevent ants from carrying off the evidence, and avoid having bees flying around under the screen board and to prevent entry up through the screen by SHB. In winter they are also taped shut to prevent drafts. They are usually also screened off using metal insect screening (warm weather) or 1/4" hardware cloth (mouse guard in winter.) And I use solid plugs of wood or XPS foam to fill the bulk of the opening.

    The commercially available Cor-o-plast boards often don't cover the whole floor of the hive. I have no idea why this is so. I make my own boards cut to fit the entire area. (I am lucky because my husband is in the solar biz, and a byproduct of the packaging on one type of equipment is large slabs of Coroplast, which all come home to me instead of going in the trash.) When I am feeling "fancy" I wrap the edges of the board with silver HVAC tape to keep debris out of the corrugations, but most of my boards are still naked.

    Try local sign printers to buy board w/o shipping charges. You can even re-purpose old political signs if you paint them with white-pigmented shellac, though it doesn't last too long being regularly scraped. But signs are free. Measure your bottom boards before buying material.

    Of course, each one has a big 'ole paperclip pushed through a hole close to one of the small ends, in the center from side to side. This is my handy pull tab for extracting a board that has gotten pushed too far in.

    As for what I learn from the boards, well, I learn more each time I look at them. And regretfully this morning I have to prep for giving a class, so I can't describe what to look for. (Look for a recent post of mine on thisolefish's thread for some basics. More later if you are interested.)

    My original boards from 2013 are still in use (though in slight disfavor since they are smaller than I like.) I prefer my larger, custom-made ones.

    Nancy
    Last edited by enjambres; 04-22-2018 at 09:23 AM.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: does a stickyboard really tell anything?

    Nancy, a big thank you going out to you! Your reads are always most helpful and interesting. Somehow I knew you were a teacher!
    You stated, "The commercially available Cor-o-plast boards often don't cover the whole floor of the hive." I thought they came in multiple sizes, I'll look into that for myself. I assume white is the preferred color?

    Have you ever considered wrapping the boards with stretch-tite premium plastic food wrap? I love the stuff!

    I'm thinking of using the Mann Lake assembled wooden Varroa Screen Trap (WW-680) in combination with my solid bottom boards, do you see anything wrong with this combination?

    Any time you can expound on a subject is like adding whip cream to an already great bowl of strawberry shortcake! I look forward to it!

  12. #11
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    Default

    The white corrugated plastic boards are commonly used for signs. You can often find for free or recycle old signs. Ide just start sampling for mites with a basic board. You'll get an idea of works for you, how much time you have to commit to proper consistent sampling. Then you can figure out what you need for all your hives. It's really not hard at all, just time consuming. No way I have time to do 30+ hives.

    Kelley bees use to have a bottom board where the mesh screen and sampling board slide into the side rails. Not sure if they still have them. The board samples the entire inside crossectional area 14.75 x 18.25. Most of your mites are going to fall from the core of the brood nest. The least will fall from end frames.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: does a stickyboard really tell anything?

    Commercially available Coorplast boards do come in all sizes, but the boards available from bee-suppliers are, for some reason, often not the same size as the bottom surface of the hive. Don't know why that it is, but it is.

    Sticky boards take only a few minutes to do (if you're only doing mite checks). But there is tons to be learned from studying what else is on them.

    Boards that have lines drawn on them make it harder to do accurate counts as some mites will be on the lines and less visible. Plain white works best, whether naturally white, or painted white. The painted ones needed to be recoated from time to time depending on how aggressive your scraping technique is. Sprayed BIN white-pigmented shellac works fine for this. (Clean any residual oil off thoroughly before recoating.)

    I doubt I would do a yard of 30 hives either, but I regularly do my own yard of 15 +/-. For someone with just a few hives the added information vastly outweighs the small cost in time. And for new beekeepers it's a valuable observation (and learning) tool that doesn't involve any disturbance to the bees.

    Nancy

  14. #13
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    Default

    When I had just a few hives checking boards was no problem. And I agree it was a good learning opportunity for new beekeepera.. It is a non-instrusive way to see what's going on and find things you'de otherwise not find. Like in winter or other times of the year when you'de rather not open the hive.

    You'll be able to tell things beyond mites like. How many frames are active, if there are moth larva (poo), you can find wax scales. During the first cold spell heading into winter you'll find all the dead hive beetles. Etc etc.

    Nowadays by boards get checked maybe twice a year. More or less to scrap off thick layer of debri/ junk.

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