High mite load opinions
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  1. #1
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    Default High mite load opinions

    This question is intended mostly for the TF folks, and I already have a pretty good idea what my course of action will be but want some feedback.

    I have been treating with OAV the past several weeks. 7 day plan due to work. 19/20 are dropping <50 mites post treatment. I consider this very good. 1 hive has been dropping more than I care to count but I would guess somewhere around 1000 per treatment. The board is literally covered with dead mites. So, does a hive that is living with such a high mite load have redeeming qualities, or is an extraordinarily high load a sign of absolutely no hygienic behavior, and this queen needs to go? I hesitate with the hive tool test because this hive gave me a decent honey crop this year, but there are a LOT of mites. I am leaning towards the hive tool, but wanted other thoughts on the matter. I have not noticed any signs of viruses and the hive appears quite healthy and active. Famous last words before a mite crash, I know. It is just odd that only one hive out of twenty is displaying this infestation level and my hives are very close to each other.

    What do I do with this queen assuming the hive survives winter?
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    She might just be a very prolific breeder and kept ahead of a terrific mite load. No thoughts to birth control or wintering population. Eat, drink and be merry! I fear you may be correct about the famous last words; a premonition?

    Some people would just love for all their queens to be so disposed! Would fit well into some management systems and conditions. I can't give any advice but she doesn't sound like she would fit my pistol.

    My inclination though is to get those mites dead in case she does crash and then unload those mites onto your other hives. Treating the colony wont destroy the possible genetic value. I woulnt be quick to pinch her in case there is something special there. I have never had a mite drop of more than about 50, so what do I know!
    Frank

  4. #3
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    What do I do with this queen assuming the hive survives winter?
    Here is an idea for you.....

    I think anyone with a decent enough # of hives affords to spend 1-2 hives for pure experimentation with open ended result.
    Especially, when a high suspicion is there of the hive going dead anyway.
    Might as well do a crazy experiment on them.

    I would; I actually have.
    I created a shook swarm out of a similar situation and having fun watching what happens next.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Definitely treating. May put this one on a four day schedule and treat in the late evening when I get home. Do like Kamon did with his 30% mite load hive and nuc with the bejeezus out of them. She has been a good brood producer so far, just not sure that I want those other genetics.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  6. #5
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Not a bad idea Greg, but to be on the safe side, I would give the hive a frame of brood from one of my better queens for them to requeen with. She could be a good brood factory for other splits.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  7. #6
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    My view is that if you are going to treat all your hives, why worry about the high count if the hive is productive. Treat it and knock the mites down and get tons of honey next year.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  8. #7
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    Not a bad idea Greg, but to be on the safe side, I would give the hive a frame of brood from one of my better queens for them to requeen with. She could be a good brood factory for other splits.
    Either way.

    Shake the "strange" queen away with the young bees.
    Shock them.
    Start them as a new swarm on a blank and feed - they will wake up be fine still.
    Whatever left - requeen as you said.
    Heck, never know what comes out.

    I think a good shocker could very well shock the mites too.
    Not sure why, but beeks miss a point of shocking the bees so to shock the mites.
    Good shock never hurts, even this late (since you'd help them out).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  9. #8
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by gww View Post
    My view is that if you are going to treat all your hives, why worry about the high count if the hive is productive. Treat it and knock the mites down and get tons of honey next year.
    Cheers
    gww
    I like this idea. (I am not treatment free.)

    I likewise have wondered the meaning of a high mite drop. On the face of it, it means a high infestation, and (it would seem) not good genetics. But if a hive is thriving with high mite drop? What does that ell us?

    No idea, I treat.

  10. #9
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Making decisions based on mite counts are limited because no one really knows what does it means.
    General assumption is high # must be bad.
    Short-term, reasonable reaction is to treat (or not if you are TF) or apply some non-chem measures (if you are CF (chem-free); like I am CF).
    Long-term reasonable reaction is to stick with your philosophy, whatever that is.

    Basically, you are playing short-game or long-game.
    If you are playing a short-game - save them at all costs and live another season.
    If you are playing a long-game - don't be afraid to butcher/experiment; it is a war what matters, not a battle.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    it is a war what matters, not a battle.

    Till you run out of ammo (money).
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    If I had that hive, I would not know the mite count cause I don't count. It would either live or it would die cause I would not treat. If too many died, I would treat rather then breed for better. Either way, if I had a productive hive that was living and producing good by the way I was keeping them, I would take the production and change nothing.
    I would figure what I was doing was working and the production proved it.
    Cheers
    gww
    zone 5b

  13. #12

    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by JWPalmer View Post
    This question is intended mostly for the TF folks, and I already have a pretty good idea what my course of action will be but want some feedback.

    What do I do with this queen assuming the hive survives winter?
    Breeding for varroa resistance seems to develop, all around the world and whatever the method, bees with only meager infestation level, <1-2%. From this respective I see little value in a hive with high mite load if your intention is to select for better varroa resistance.

    If the hive were the only one in the yard without virus symptoms, it would be a harder decision. But still, no mercy from me.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    it is a war what matters, not a battle.

    Till you run out of ammo (money).
    No you don't.
    In this case, the ammo self-replicates and lays about for free taking - a good thing.
    The ammo is the bees (not money).
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Juhani Lunden View Post
    I see little value in a hive with high mite load if your intention is to select for better varroa resistance.
    that was my first thought as well.
    journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives

  16. #15
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Come to my neighborhood and try that.
    Glad it is true for you and others.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Saltybee View Post
    Come to my neighborhood and try that.
    Glad it is true for you and others.
    I have a terrible neighborhood myself.
    So what?
    General redundancy and risk distribution principals work across many industries and technologies.
    Not an excuse NOT to do the same in beekeeping.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by Juhani Lunden View Post
    From this respective I see little value in a hive with high mite load if your intention is to select for better varroa resistance.
    How many people seriously select for varroa resistance, anyway (while being qualified to do it, importantly)?
    Not many.
    So I would put that criteria away.

    The virtually dead hive is a good playground with not much to loose, but something to potentially still produce.
    Former "smoker boy". Classic, square 12 frame Dadants >> Long hive/Short frame/chemical-free experimentations.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Quote Originally Posted by GregV View Post
    Not an excuse NOT to do the same in beekeeping.
    I do not need an excuse or permission to repeat failure. Been there, done that Bond foolishness.

    Stress testing hives that fail 100% is not progress, it is just folly.
    It is not true that you cannot teach an old dog new tricks.
    They can learn them, they just can't do them.

  20. #19
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    Just an update to my high mite count hive. After several OAV treatments in which the drops remained in the high hundreds, the drop from last weeks treatment was about 50 mites. Hive has good amounts of brood, no signs of DWV, and is putting away the stores. Pretty sure now they robbed out a mite bomb and picked up a few (thousand) hitchhikers. Could not find mites on any of the other inserts I pulled and looked at from the rest of the hives. I will continue to treat weekly and if this one makes it through winter, it will be a win.
    Thankfully, the bees are smarter than I am. They are doing well, in spite of my efforts to help them.

  21. #20
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    Default Re: High mite load opinions

    I have a similar issue as well. I did a test OAV in mid-September to be sure all hives still had low mite counts. One hive headed by my only Italian queen dropped a load of mites while all the others did not. It got another series of OAV. From what I can tell, the other hives have started winding down for the upcoming winter but the Italian hive has not. The population is huge in comparison and my best guess is that it is robbing out every other hive in the area. The hive produced well this summer and for that, I will keep her alive. I will not breed from her mainly because Italian hives need so much more winter stores that it takes forever to get them up to a weight that will keep them alive over the winter. The summer drought also requires constant feeding to keep them alive. My mutts are much more frugal than Italians. The bottom line is, which is more important, a reliably good harvest or bees that have some varroa resistance?

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