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  1. #1
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    May 2017
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    Default Hive collapsed...

    Just FYI, my hive, started in May 2017, made it through last winter fine. As of about 2 weeks ago, IR camera showed a nice warm cluster. Last week, the heat was gone. Opened up the hive, all dead.

    Under a scope, a lot of mites. I did not treat. I assume that they were weakened by that. Nothing else looked out of ordinary. Harvested all except one bar, and left four empty brood bars and one full capped honey bar in the hive. Cleaned it up and closed up the entrance.

    Now I need to decide on trying again in the spring, and/or hopefully attracting a swarm.

    if I do start again, I need to learn how to treat...

    Had to try.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
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    Aylett, Virginia
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Kudos for trying. TF is not an easy road to follow and is a poor choice for someone with just one or two hives. A close friend had a hive that was 7 years TF and I thought it would be easy for me too. He lost that hive last year. I became a convert to treatment when my first hive succumbed to varroa and quickly treated the remaining five with Apivar. Still lost another two the first year because treament was so late. I like OAV now and have used it exclusively this year. So far 16 for 16, but there are still two very cold months to go. Don't give up!
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2017
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    NW Florida
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    1,120

    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Treating or not, you need to split. My first hive died its second winter. There are a lot of mite treatments, both chemical and simple manipulations that can help. However, you don't want all your eggs in one basket so to speak. I had to restart this spring with two nucs and managed to go into winter with three full hives and four nucs. Currently looking like we are starting build up, so I may get six out of winter. My keeping needs are different than yours, but you could check out the treatment free thread for people in your area so you can start with bees more likely to fend off mites. Good luck. You can get back in the game. Just make it a year about learning to split or to split and treat.
    Beek since 2016: Hardiness Zone 9a: in NW Florida

  5. #4
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    May 2017
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Thanks. Splitting, or more than one hive is probably an issue due to space. But I will consider it an OAV if I get a package in the spring.

  6. #5
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    Jun 2016
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    Geauga, Ohio
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    402

    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    I have found OAV to work really well for top bar hives.... if there is a way to get the wand below the more-or-less center of the cluster. If you have a screened bottom already, as many top bars do, then you will want a board that blocks the screened bottom - with a hole for the wand. And you need serious protective gear - a lot of vapor will escape and be in the air around you. It was not a problem for me with a respirator rated for organic vapor. I couldn't even smell vanilla through it. Also shop goggles with the airholes on the side taped shut.

    I have hives with screened bottoms now, but before that I had top bar hives with solid bottoms - and I drilled a 1" hole in the bottom at about the right place to be more or less centered. That worked too.

    So, what I learned to do is really use the alcohol wash to clarify state of the mite levels. I found the alcohol wash (or sugar shake, if you want to do that instead, and look up the proper method) to be limited in its use when there is a lot of brood and a lot of bees - like in May, June, and July. At that point, 1 mite for me is a sign of a mite emergency. I would treat at that point, like I meant it - with OAV, that would be treating until the mite drop on the bottom board was 50 or less.

    Just to be clear, the alcohol wash samples a percentage of the total phoretic mites. So a hive with 10000 bees (about a package) with 1% of bees having mites would have 100 bees in the hive. But if there was brood, you'd only be able to see 50 of those mites. Let's keep it simple tho and say there's no brood. So, if you took out 300 bees, you should find 3 mites. 1%. If you have 40000 bees - that's 20 langstroth frames all covered in bees - you'd expect 1% infestation to have 400 mites. But when you have that many bees, you have brood, so only maybe 200 mites are on those 40000 bees. Now it's 0.5% of the exposed bees have a mite. If you sample 300 bees, that's 1.5 mites, so you will underestimate your mite load. And those 200 in-brood mites will become 400 in 2-3 weeks... those 400 will become 800... and it's bad news.

    But in mid/late August, the mite counts in an alcohol wash will start to go up - even for a hive that has not really had an increase in mites. 40000 bees with 1% mites and brood - only 1.5 in an alcohol wash. No brood, maybe there's a dearth, you'd see 3 mites in 300 bees. And your mite load didn't double!

    Add to that the tragedy of being on the receiving end of a varroa bomb - nearby hives died, maybe they were feral, maybe not - and yours went robbing and brought back more than honey. That will take a hive down by mid December, which means it takes like 6 weeks to suck the hive dry. I have seen with my own eyes a survivable mite load during the fall turn into a massive one - and no mite frass matching the mite numbers. No mite frass means no mites reproduced in the brood cells. It looks like a tiny dot of powdered sugar on the roof of the cell, right at the front.

    To combat the varroa bomb, next year I will use OAV from mid October to early Dec, about every 2 weeks - after a fly day, to see if the girls picked anything up. That's assuming their September alcohol wash was 3 or less per 300 bees.

    As for options other than OAV, I know someone posted in the top bar section about using apivar strips. They are great for a slow mite kill, but won't act quickly to bring mite levels down.

  7. #6
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    Aug 2014
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    England, UK
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Quote Originally Posted by Corto View Post
    [...] more than one hive is probably an issue due to space.
    If space is very tight, then perhaps consider hives having a smaller footprint, or even a vertical design ?

    The classic KTBH with it's splayed legs has a very large footprint for a single colony - three Warre hives could be installed on the same footprint as one 4-foot KTBH.
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  8. #7
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    Algoma District Northern Ontario, Canada
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    It is not top bar hive beekeeping but when space is limited the Snelgrove system gives many options to raise new queens, replace the old, start nucs, run two queen colonies etc., all on a single colony Footprint. It usually accomplishes 100% swarm control in the process of doing the above functions.
    Frank

  9. #8
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    Aug 2013
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    Isle of Wight, VA
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Corto,
    I've been running TBH's since 2014 without "treatments" so it can be done, and not the "bond" method either. I'm not considered truly treatment-free because I use powdered sugar to knock down the mites. Every month, each comb gets dusted when I do an inspection. I'm also running the colonies over screened bottoms with solid IPM boards underneath that contain diatomaceous earth. When the mites are groomed off, they can fall through the screen and into the DE to desiccate. (works well for small hive beetles too). Solid bottom board hives are no longer allowed in my apiary as I watched the mites crawl back up on the workers to re-infest them.

    My bees are from a variety of sources. I bought my first nuc from a local beekeeper, got a couple of packages from Mann Lake, started making my own queens and then brought in production queens from various places that were either raised treatment-free (like Sam Comfort) or had various characteristics I was looking for, in other words, not the run of the mill queens from a big apiary. I've sold my nucs and queens to many people locally. Some has similar success if they are diligent in using the powdered sugar monthly, or more often if mite checking dictates it; although others do manage to kill my nucs by not doing the powdered sugar.

    I know just about everyone on here will jump in to say "Randy Oliver says it doesn't work", but I've been doing it this way since 2014 and typically run 10-17 hives/nucs per year in my backyard, so it really can be done. I'm also very proactive in getting in the colonies at least twice a month to correct any issues that might be going on in a colony. A topbar hive is not a set it and forget it type of beehive.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Arlington Hts, IL
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    A topbar hive is not a set it and forget it type of beehive.
    Ruth (all), thanks.

    I like the TBH style, and since I have that currently, if I do give it a go again, will keep the same style.

    I understand that some inspection is needed, and I did go in, about once every 2 weeks, mainly to add bars as the hive grew. I will readily admit other than the first couple times in 2017 I have never pulled out the brood bars -- at most snuck a look at the last one, or slid a couple apart to add an empty.

    I like the screened bottom board idea with DE and powdered sugar, and now that my hive has no bees in it I may decide to work on that over winter.

    But...I did sort of hope internally that it mainly would be a set and forget. I read trishbookworm's account of doing OAV, and it certainly scares me a bit doing that to a hive where I eventually want to harvest honey from next spring, or whenever.

    My bees originally supposedly came from Minnesota hygienic, but doesn't really matter now.

    Thanks again, I'll update if I decide to make changes and try again. Or I just may open the entrance in the spring and hope for a swarm.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    Chaisubani, Georgia
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    1

    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Hello! Happy New Year!
    I am a new beekeeper. What about essential oils? In our region (Russia, Ukraine) there are beekeepers who use only essential oils against the Varroa and it is quite successful.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    May 2017
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    Arlington Hts, IL
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    From my reading and books on the subject, I like Phil Chandler's from Barefoot Beekeeper coupled with Ruth's DE bottom. I think I will make an easily slid out/removable DE bottom, which, when removed, gives immediate access to the entire hive through the screen. Rig up some method of blowing powdered sugar into the hive from the bottom, and just do it on a regular basis. Whether there are mites or not, I assume this will help, and is easy to do without any concerns on my own health. If a little powdered sugar gets into nectar, no big deal, I am not trying to sell the honey.

  13. #12
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    Jul 2018
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    Oklahoma USA
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    Default

    Dont give up try again. Just pick a road you want to go down and stick to that and learn, ask questions and read everything you can.

    Treatment or TF whichever you want both can be done. TF is hard for sure and can't not be achieved simply by just putting bees into a box. There is a method they use, follow and continue to tweak for their area. As Michael Bush told me "A lot of the skepticism happens when people fail at what they tried.*
    For instance if you started out using treatments and all your bees die,
    you will say that treating doesn't work.* If you start out treatment
    free and all your bees die, you will think you should have treated.*
    Reality is that sometimes they die.* As you get to be a better beekeeper
    you will be able understand when they need help and to help them more.*
    But even then some of them die"

    No one is successful in keeping bees just by putting bees into a box. Become educated with bees, mites and diseases. Learn how to identify them learn different ways for different things dont be one sided the more you are armed with the better you will do. Never stop learning. Dont be the problem, "lazy bee keeping" is not the answer

  14. #13
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    Jun 2011
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    Chicago, ILL. USA
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Quote Originally Posted by Corto View Post
    Whether there are mites or not, I assume this will help
    There are mites, and no, it will not help. If it was as easy as blowing powdered sugar into a hive, EVERY beekeeper would be doing it. Please consider other methods ( and tf is possible but it takes more than powdered sugar and screen bottoms ) for your bees' sake, as well as your beekeeping neighbor's bees.

  15. #14
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    May 2017
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Quote Originally Posted by Marcin View Post
    There are mites, and no, it will not help. If it was as easy as blowing powdered sugar into a hive, EVERY beekeeper would be doing it. Please consider other methods ( and tf is possible but it takes more than powdered sugar and screen bottoms ) for your bees' sake, as well as your beekeeping neighbor's bees.
    Marcin, I would love to hear @ruthiesbees reply to your observation. Not saying you are right or wrong, but she has the experience to respond to your position.

  16. #15
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    May 2018
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Quote Originally Posted by ruthiesbees View Post
    ...
    I know just about everyone on here will jump in to say "Randy Oliver says it doesn't work", but I've been doing it this way since 2014 and typically run 10-17 hives/nucs per year in my backyard, so it really can be done. I'm also very proactive in getting in the colonies at least twice a month to correct any issues that might be going on in a colony. A topbar hive is not a set it and forget it type of beehive.
    Not sure if people are misreading Randy study or something else but below is the summary of his study which supports your argument. Not sure why people are stating otherwise.

    On the other notice if you are using the screen bottom board only (without the IPM boards underneath), wouldn't the mites fall through the screen bottom board to the ground where they couldn't climb back up?


    Here is the link to the quote below http://scientificbeekeeping.com/powd...y-work-part-1/
    Quote Originally Posted by link-above
    My point is, that a hobbyist may find that sugar dusting, or any other method or treatment, may be enough to help their colonies to survive, especially if they are using Russian, other mite resistant, survivor, or feral stock. However, the flip side is that a beekeeper may completely convince himself that a certain method is “working” since their bees survived last season. In actuality, the bees’ survival may have be due to other factors; the beekeeper’s pet treatment may have been of little more benefit than a placebo, yet made the beekeeper feel good because they were doing something! (This applies to commercial beekeepers, too). I suggest that we be careful of “cures” until they are well proven by controlled trials (using test and control colonies).

    Bottom line—if you are a hobbyist and use mite resistant stock, then you may be able to get by with minimal mite management. If you use screened bottoms, then sugar dusting is an option that may help. For determining mite infestation levels, sugar dusting is great! In my next article, I will present the results of my field testing of sugar dusting, including mite drop rate hour by hour, a comparison of dust-accelerated mite drop to other sampling methods, and a fresh look at varroa treatment threshold levels.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Quote Originally Posted by tom0354 View Post
    Not sure if people are misreading Randy study or something else but below is the summary of his study which supports your argument ("... it really can be done."). Not sure why people are stating otherwise.
    I don't see any firm support for that argument in the following quotation - what I read is that sugar dusting is useful as a diagnostic tool, but caution needs to be exercised in the area of self-delusion when evaluating sugar dust as an effective miticide.

    Originally Posted via link as above
    My point is, that a hobbyist may find that sugar dusting, or any other method or treatment, may be enough to help their colonies to survive, especially if they are using Russian, other mite resistant, survivor, or feral stock. However, the flip side is that a beekeeper may completely convince himself that a certain method is “working” since their bees survived last season. In actuality, the bees’ survival may have be due to other factors; the beekeeper’s pet treatment may have been of little more benefit than a placebo, yet made the beekeeper feel good because they were doing something! (This applies to commercial beekeepers, too). I suggest that we be careful of “cures” until they are well proven by controlled trials (using test and control colonies).

    Bottom line — if you are a hobbyist and use mite resistant stock, then you may be able to get by with minimal mite management. If you use screened bottoms, then sugar dusting is an option that may help. For determining mite infestation levels, sugar dusting is great! In my next article, I will present the results of my field testing of sugar dusting, including mite drop rate hour by hour, a comparison of dust-accelerated mite drop to other sampling methods, and a fresh look at varroa treatment threshold levels.
    I would suggest that whether the above quotation is considered to support sugar dusting or not as a method of controlling mite numbers depends largely on whether the reader has formed a judgement beforehand regarding it's effectivity.

    Prior judgement = pre-judice = prejudice.

    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Randy's position on this seems to have evolved over the years so his earlier studies seem to point to it being effective and later postings seem to say it is not. And honestly, I really don't care what he says either way, I just know people quote him all the time as though he is some type of bee god who decides how all of us should keep our bees.

    I even found a blog from Country Rubes where she says Randy says it will work if done on a consistent basis. http://countryrubes.com/blog/messing...sting-results/

    What I shared with the OP is my own personal experience over many years of many colonies of non-migratory bees in Virginia in my topbar hives. One year, someone had given me an ankle-biter queen in May so she went in a TBH and I did not use the powdered sugar on her colony each month like I did the others. The box was still inspected with the same regularity as the others and even had the DE on the IPM board. By December of that year, it was obvious the mites were winning and the colony was dead by January. (At least I had the opportunity to donate the mite infested bees to a study being done at Old Dominion Univ on deformed wing virus.)

    Others have asked me what happens to my bees if I just leave them alone, supposing that they have developed some type of tolerance for mites. While I am not willing to do that with the bees in my yard, I mentor enough TBH folks who bought my nucs to see what happens. Those that use the powdered sugar on each comb, monthly, have good success. Those that tell me "I got busy and didn't do it" will lose their bees, although some of these people also neglect to recognize other issues in their box like queenlessness or being overrun by small hive beetles.

    And finally, as to Corto's thought to "blow a little powdered sugar up into the combs", I don't think you will find that to be effective against the mites. Randy's studies were done where he brushed the powdered sugar from the tops of the bars down between the seams of bees. He did not take each frame out and dust each one. What Randy was doing and what I am doing with my bees are two very different processes. Most beekeepers tell me they don't want to take their colony apart and dust each side of the comb and that is their choice, and they can manage their mites how they wish. As for me, I can do the same.

  19. #18
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    May 2018
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    Sacramento, CA
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Quote Originally Posted by little_john View Post
    I don't see any firm support for that argument in the following quotation - what I read is that sugar dusting is useful as a diagnostic tool, but caution needs to be exercised in the area of self-delusion when evaluating sugar dust as an effective miticide.



    I would suggest that whether the above quotation is considered to support sugar dusting or not as a method of controlling mite numbers depends largely on whether the reader has formed a judgement beforehand regarding it's effectivity.

    Prior judgement = pre-judice = prejudice.

    LJ
    correct me if I am but I thought "may work" means that the results are varied? So yes, it is not a firm support that dusting will be 100% work but it might work for some and might not for others.


    Ruth,

    I am using dusting between the frames and it does somewhat controlling the mite population but it still growing but at slower rate. I read your approach from another thread on dusting frame by frame and I want to construct a tbh and try that approach since it is a lot of work for the langstroth.

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Turnbow Hollow, Tennessee
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    426

    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Quote Originally Posted by Corto View Post
    Just FYI, my hive, started in May 2017, made it through last winter fine. As of about 2 weeks ago, IR camera showed a nice warm cluster. Last week, the heat was gone. Opened up the hive, all dead.

    Under a scope, a lot of mites. I did not treat. I assume that they were weakened by that. Nothing else looked out of ordinary. Harvested all except one bar, and left four empty brood bars and one full capped honey bar in the hive. Cleaned it up and closed up the entrance.

    Now I need to decide on trying again in the spring, and/or hopefully attracting a swarm.

    if I do start again, I need to learn how to treat...

    Had to try.
    Corto, very sorry to hear of your hive losses. I have tried treatment free but as you are painfully finding out, our bee genetics are just not there yet, at least not in mass. As you have also learned, food grade, essential oil, and other non-chemical treatments are not effective.

    Chemical and pesticide treatments although effective are not a long term solution and many are falling to mite pesticide/chemical resistance.

    OAV and formic acid treatment products ARE effective but in the case of OAV although a very effective knock down treatment, it kills pretty much only phoretic varroa mites and can be rather hard on brood. Formic acid treatment products like MAQS and Formic Pro are very effective at killing off foundress/reproductive mites as well as phoretic varroa mites but are extremely hard on brood, queens, and general bee population especially when used in the upper range of its temperature application limits.

    Any treatment is a stop gap measure with respect to reaching genetically varroa mite or other pest resistant bees. That having been said, if we do NOT treat, I think we can pretty much all understand that hive losses would be unacceptably high.

    In my opinion, the next best thing to treatment free beekeeping is chemical free beekeeping. It is not the best nor perfect solution but again in my opinion the best solution currently at hand. I am in my 2nd season of treatment with the Mighty Mite Killer and have had excellent results. Last season I treated 84 of my 8 & 10 frame hives and treated 15 of the 47 nucleus colonies I built from the 8 & 10 frame hives. I did not receive the nucleus colony size Might Mite Killers until November and the change to cold temperatures prevented treating the rest. These hives from all inspections and appearances seem to be doing well going into mid Winter and most are still producing brood.

    The remaining hives that did not get treated with the Mighty Mite Killer were treated with Apivar and if I detect going varroa mite levels will be using OAV on a spot treatment basis. Both of these products although chemical based ARE very good treatments especially in my case where cold temperatures will not allow the Mighty Mite Killer to properly reach treatment temperature. I have tried many OAV applicators and have come to be very fond of the ProVap 110 when and where conditions warrant. Larry has an excellent product in the ProVap 110.

    For the time being, I am afraid treatment free in most cases means breeding, dividing, and splitting as many hives as possible to stay ahead of the hive loss curve until the hopeful eventuality of breeding queens that have the genetic traits of varroa mite resistance enough to survive on their own.

    Again ANY treatment is a delaying factor in reaching this goal but setting a reasonable balance between hive losses and chemical free treatments until attaining hives/queens that have developed natural genetic resistance is something I believe most if not nearly all beekeepers are forced in one way or another to adhere to for the time being. This is where I am finding in my experience that the Mighty Mite Killer is a very good fit.

    The Mighty Mite Killer cost more than some other treatments but when you factor in the cost savings of the chemical treatments it replaces, they will pay for themselves in short order depending upon how many hives you are treating. I would recommend that you find out who is the Mighty Mite Killer representative in your area and ask them if they would come treat your hives when temperatures and conditions permit. I am experimenting with various methods of hive insulation that would allow Mighty Mite Killer treatments at much lower temperatures than the current 70 degrees for single deeps and 80 degrees for double deeps. I believe the charge is around $40 depending upon circumstances. The other option is to buy one and try it out. If you don't like it, return it to Lynn Williams and he will give you your money back. If you belong to a local beekeeping club/organization, you might suggest the club/organization purchase a 10 frame, 8 frame, and nucleus colony Mighty Mite Killer to share with the club/organization members.

    Here is a good resource to check out where you can ask questions of other Mighty Mite Killer users:


    https://www.facebook.com/groups/275791919813444/


    As beekeepers in these current time, we MUST apply common sense AND science to consider, evaluate, and apply new and modified methods of treating and raising out bees. Yes, the goal is to attain bees that can survive on their own in the current environment but they are going to need all the help we can provide for them. This help must not only be specialized pest treatments, but providing good natural nutrition for our bees when and where possible and supplementing that nutrition when conditions warrant. We need to communicate and work with farmers and our neighbors on striking a reasonable and survivable balance with respect to pesticide and herbicide application that our bees can tolerate and flourish in. In short, we as beekeepers must adapt and improvise to survive in the world and circumstances we find ourselves in. I see this as the path forward.
    Last edited by Live Oak; 01-02-2019 at 11:29 AM.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Hive collapsed...

    Quote Originally Posted by tom0354 View Post
    ... I thought "may work" means that the results are varied?
    Perhaps. Much depends on the meaning one assigns to the word 'may' - which after all is just another way of saying 'might', 'perhaps', 'maybe', etc. The word is mean to convey uncertainty - but in practice how a person interprets the use of that word in this context depends on their starting (or pre-judice) point - whether they have a fundamental belief in the TF approach or not. Some do, some don't. You did.

    So in the above quote a dyed-in-the-wool TF person would typically interpret "may work" as meaning "possibly WILL work", whereas the hardened non-TF person would interpret exactly the same phrase as meaning "probably WON'T work". And I'm sure there will be some folks in the middle of the spectrum with a more neutral perspective.

    Just as "half a glass" can mean either "half-full", "half-empty" ... or even just "half a glass".
    LJ
    A Heretics Guide to Beekeeping http://heretics-guide.atwebpages.com/

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