Urgent Varroa Mite Question
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Pella, Iowa, USA
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    4

    Default Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    Hello all. This is my first time posting here but I've found this forum a really useful source of information for a while now. This is my first year of keeping bees. While it has definitely been a learning experience, I didn't think it was going to badly, that is until today. About a week and a half ago I began winterizing my hives (Moisture quilts, slide in covers for open bottom boards, etc). Today I happened to pull out the bottom board inserts on both of my hives and noticed a lot of dead mites (picture below).

    Back in early September, I started treatment with apivar strips and recently removed them a few weeks ago. I realize now I should have done a mite count check on the bees during that time to make sure it was working. I am wondering if things are too far gone at this point to try an put the money/effort in to save them. Yesterday I also happend to notice a bee with crippled wings at the entrance. The only thing I can think of to do at this point would be to get the equipment needed vapor treatments. Here in Iowa, it is getting too cold to be opening up the hives (I think). Otherwise, the hives look good. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Location
    Wimer, Oregon
    Posts
    117

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    looks like apivaar is/has doing/done it's job real well.
    dwf is another symptom of something else the bees acquired due to weakened immunity from mites
    DavidZ

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Sisters, Oregon
    Posts
    138

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    To be honest the mite drop made me sick. You may very well be in the middle of a collapse. Its one of those throw caution to the wind strategies. Kamon Reynolds has a series on the radical measures he just took on a ridiculous mite load colony. Its on YouTube. If I were in your physical shoes I’d run not walk to get OAV equipment and put fresh Apivar strips on them too. Super radical combining treatments but you need a hail mary pass and hope to God its not too late.
    I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2015
    Location
    Mercer county pa. Usa
    Posts
    158

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    How long was the sticky board in the hive? Looks like it may have been in there for awhile. Looks like the apivar was doing its job of killing the mites. The mistake you may have made was installing the strips too late. If your mite count was high in July, waiting till Sept. may have allowed the mite counts to get to high and caused damage to some of your winter bees. I would do a mite wash and if the mite count is not too high I would try to save them. Install some more apivar strips and look into AOV treatment or dribble also.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Pella, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    The boards were only in there for a little over a week.... AOV fogger on the way from amazon. I figure if these hives die I will give it another shot in the spring and use it.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    drakesville, iowa
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesBondo View Post
    The boards were only in there for a little over a week.... AOV fogger on the way from amazon. I figure if these hives die I will give it another shot in the spring and use it.
    I doubt that your bees are made of sugar. You have a 4 day window here in Iowa where the temperatures will be in the upper 40's to lower 50's. I would tip up both of the hives and take a 300 bee sample from the brood frames for each hive and do an alcohol wash. With this sample you would have a better idea of what your mite count is likely to be.

    Your queens should have mostly shut down so there will be less brood to be chilled, the adult bees can handle having the hive open for 60 seconds. I hope you are using an oxalic acid vaporizer and not a bug sprayer. OAV treatment now in November and again in Dec. should knock down the mites as there will be little brood in the hives now. The Apivar treatment should have helped knock down the mites.

    If your mite count is high now, determined by testing and not guessing, I would say your hives are toast. They may make it until about late Jan. or Feb. and then, presto, they are all dead. I hope not.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    May 2017
    Location
    Spokane, Washington, USA
    Posts
    239

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    For a week, without a treatment in the hive, that would scare the bejeebers out of me. I have never used Apivar, but I am guessing that these drops several weeks later are not residual effects of that treatment.

    I wouldn't bother with a wash, but would assume that the mite load is high, and treat appropriately. You'll get good advice here, good luck.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Pella, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    Quote Originally Posted by couesbro View Post
    I hope you are using an oxalic acid vaporizer and not a bug sprayer. .
    Correct is a vaporizer not a bug sprayer.

    Quote Originally Posted by couesbro View Post
    If your mite count is high now, determined by testing and not guessing, I would say your hives are toast. They may make it until about late Jan. or Feb. and then, presto, they are all dead .
    Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but at this point in the season, if a high mite count is a death sentence is there any benefit in testing? Either it truly is high and they are dead like you said, or it is not to bad and they still get an OAV treatment. It just seems like (in my limited experience) doing the OAV treatment would cause less/equal stress on them at this point then cracking open the hive to do testing and finding out if I do/do not have a mite problem. I appreciate your input!

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    drakesville, iowa
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    Quote Originally Posted by JamesBondo View Post
    Correct is a vaporizer not a bug sprayer.



    Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but at this point in the season, if a high mite count is a death sentence is there any benefit in testing? Either it truly is high and they are dead like you said, or it is not to bad and they still get an OAV treatment. It just seems like (in my limited experience) doing the OAV treatment would cause less/equal stress on them at this point then cracking open the hive to do testing and finding out if I do/do not have a mite problem. I appreciate your input!
    OAV treating is cheap and you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by treating

    By testing for mites I will know where my hives stand, less stress on the bee keeper (me). It saddens me to kill 300 bees to do a test and interrupt their day, but in reality they are just bugs in a box and those 300 bees will be dead by next March any way.

    If I find low mite counts now and the hive is dead next March I can look for other factors that may have caused the loss. If they make it to spring and are strong I can note that these hives made it this year and I am doing some things right, or the bees made in spite of what I do to them. As you may or may not know the winter losses reported in Iowa range in the 40% to 60%. You may want to talk to as many local bee keepers as you can and listen to the ones that have much lower losses than the average. If what they are doing makes sense to you, add some of their methods to yours.

    In the end, they are your bees to manage or mismanage as you see fit. I am just relating what I would do and would never suggest that you do things as I do them.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Location
    Sisters, Oregon
    Posts
    138

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    Love that you went straight out and got the vaporizer. At some point you have to decide whether to quit or double down. I lost my first two hives last year and it was very painful. So what I’m learning is how much failure is involved in the first years. So this requires a gut check. This year I hit it hard and will continue to hit it hard until I can do this.

    Many of us did a late OAV series to eliminate mite drift this year. I have a 3 ring binder and have sections for each hive. You have to study the mite life cycle. My series was every 4 days to prevent mites from reentering the cells before capping. You won’t get them all until they are broodless but you can break the back of the reinfestation. I hope they have proper stores of pollen and honey. Nutritional stress is common with high mite loads.
    I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Location
    Plymouth, MA USA
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    Well, just to be clear, ALL of that stuff on the board in the pictures is not piles of mites - lots of cleaned out comb detritus and hive trash, with mites scattered in it. I would be more hopeful - the last two Octobers saw sudden huge increases in mites in my hives (even after earlier treatments in August/September - see the thread https://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...OAV-treatment). Very alarming and discouraging, yes, but with the OAV treatments 2 of 3 hives survived strong into the spring.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Coatesville, Pa, USA
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    859

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    I agree. I'd be more hopeful also. I have had hives that I have also weaned into spring that were hit with mites and was able to save them to be able to split them in the late spring. I didn't get honey from them because the mites did hit their numbers so they were only about the size of a soft ball in April, but they built up so that I used their brood late June for my splits. It's not what I "want" to have a weak hive, but a weak hive is better than a dead one in my opinion. MP says that he uses his weaker hives to create his nucs which is his back bone for his system. Personally I wouldn't do the alcohol wash because 300 bees is 300 bees. Lets say the numbers are cut in half of what they should be and you would lose 1/2 of those bees due to mites. Having another few hundred bees I have brought back (in my basement) a hive to enable them to produce brood and build back up. It's all what you want to do. I can also appreciate the wisdom of knowing where your mites stand. A strong hive 300 bees is nothing. You wouldn't ever see it, but a weak one you may.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Louisville, Colorado, USA
    Posts
    1,541

    Default

    I would do this:
    As soon as you can, give them an OAV treatment. Make sure the insert for your bottom board is clean. 3 days later count the mites on the insert. If you have hundreds treat them again and after 3 days do another count. If the count is still high treat again.
    When you have a count of a couple dozen mites stop treatments.
    3 days is what I have found you will get most of the mites dropping. That's why I do the count then.
    Good luck

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Milford, Michigan USA
    Posts
    300

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    Well I more or less agree with Arnie but I would treat every 4 days from now until the wearher prevents it regardless of the drop count or until I got zero drops.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2019
    Location
    Pella, Iowa, USA
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    Thanks for the advice everyone. The equipment for the vapor treatment came a few days ago so I gave them their first treatment then. I will go back out to the property as soon as I can and check the bottom board. Due to time constraints, I wasn't able to get a mite count done. Does temperature have much effect on the treatment? The instructions that came with the vaporizer said it needs to be above 37 degrees (which it was). Given my predicament, I'm thinking temperature is the least of my worries. I plan of following up with multiple treatments as suggested. Thanks again for all the help, hoping for the best!

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Feb 2017
    Location
    drakesville, iowa
    Posts
    39

    Default Re: Urgent Varroa Mite Question

    The temp above 37 degrees is a guide line with the assumption that the bees will not be in a tight cluster allowing the Oxalic vapor to cover more bees. Also the bees will be more active and act as mini fans to move the vapor through the hive at the higher than 37 degree temp. At least that is the theory, whether or not the bees have read that rule and follow it I can not say.

    As far as mites go, I only have 3 words, KILL, KILL, KILL. Good luck! I hope your bees come through winter alive and strong and your mites extinct.

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