Bottom Board Mite Counts
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  1. #1

    Default Bottom Board Mite Counts

    So not sure what to do with this data.

    I started finally keeping a log. Had a nice 50’s day here in Washington (PNW Seattle Area) so decided to pop the tops, change out quilt boxes, flip moisture boards and see if I could see bees.

    All 8 hives are very healthy, and still look good/great on stores. I have 15# of dry sugar (just poured in a shim on an inner cover for the hydroscopic properties) and about 2# of MannLake winter pollen patties in every hive. All are either double deep 10 frame or 8 frame gear (two of the 8 frames are triple deep).

    On 6 of the hives I have screened bottom boards (4, 10’s and 2, 8’s).

    Mite counts were as follows:

    A (10F)- 166. (Carniolians)
    B (10F)- Approx 250-300 (Saskatraz)
    C (10F)- 52 (Saskatraz)
    D (10F)- 35 (Cacausin)
    E (8F)- 45 (Ol Sol Survivor Daughter)
    F (8F with Apivar in hive)- 210 (Italians)

    You guys smarter than me, problem? I was going to start treating with OAV to run a course next month. Can it wait? Waiting to hear back from an email from Johno to by one of his rather than a wand. All were treated to no mite drops in September which is the last time the BBs were cleaned.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    Lake Forest Park, WA
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    So you got total 30 - 300 mite drops since September? Your September treatment must have worked very well. I have Carniolans in double 8-frame deeps and if I see <10 natural drops /day now, I would happily wait until mid December to do winter-time OAV (I do weekly until mites stop dropping, typically 2-4 times).
    Zone 8, elevation 70 ft, North Seattle area.
    Bee plants and their pollen. https://chabol.wixsite.com/mysite

  4. #3

    Default

    Yes I did have good September treatment. Did OAV every 4 days for 32 days. My math says I should have got the majority of the mites before they could get capped. On some of the hives I was having 200-300 mite 24 hrs after drops. I quit looking when they dropped into the 1-2 mite per treatment drop rate.

    Like I said didn’t know how to interpret it as had not payed attention before, nor taken journals on the hives before. Thanks for your help.

  5. #4
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    I need to preface with I'm not a fan of mite counts on sticky boards, but you asked how to interpret. For my $.02, body counts don't provide meaningful numbers on mite infestation or treatment effectiveness. I get little information except some mites were killed; but without knowing the number of bees in the sample, aka a hive full isn't quantifiable, you don't know the infestation percentage; nor do you know how many mites are retained percentages.
    Some folks may have some rule of thumb to interpret 300 dead mites but I've not heard of a reliable means to estimate the effectiveness of a treatment using sticky board counts. Mite counts before and after are the only way I know to quantifiably determine a treatment's effectiveness.
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  6. #5
    Join Date
    May 2018
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    PNW
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    I agree with Eikel, these numbers are meaningless at this time. I would change the boards and gave single OAV treatment to all, then decide which one would need more treatments based on the drop level after 1-2 days. Luckily we have few more days above 40F to do that.

  7. #6
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    Aug 2018
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    Sisters, Oregon
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    Sticky boards are much better than washes during robbing season when the mite loads can swell overnight. Done well its the earliest indicator of a mite bomb in the area. Best used in fall to late fall when we want to leave the brood nest alone.
    I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    Winston-Salem, NC
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    Quote Originally Posted by LAlldredge View Post
    Sticky boards are much better than washes during robbing season when the mite loads can swell overnight. Done well its the earliest indicator of a mite bomb in the area. Best used in fall to late fall when we want to leave the brood nest alone.
    makes sense, plus why kill winter bees with alcohol
    NCSBA Certified Beekeeper - my Youtube Vlog
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  9. #8
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    Not to get into a tinkling contest, but one of the original questions was "didn’t know how to interpret it." Fully understand a prophylactic treatment late fall as part of an IPM. What is interpretation take away from 300 dead mites?

    If you've bothered to count the bodies, other than satisfaction of knowing you've killed 300 of x number of the little beggars; what warning or warm fussy should it provide about the mite load that swelled overnight?
    “The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    Quote Originally Posted by Eikel View Post
    Not to get into a tinkling contest, but one of the original questions was "didn’t know how to interpret it." Fully understand a prophylactic treatment late fall as part of an IPM. What is interpretation take away from 300 dead mites?

    If you've bothered to count the bodies, other than satisfaction of knowing you've killed 300 of x number of the little beggars; what warning or warm fussy should it provide about the mite load that swelled overnight?
    Not sure what you're getting at but here is a little more.

    Mite loads in fall and late fall operate differently than counts any other time of year if there is a colony collapsing around you. In my case it was the early warning system that told me that hive was robbing out another. I suppose a beekeeper can continue to do washes once a month or more frequently even. But if they miss the timing to start treatments they can have a much larger problem on their hands than if they had pulled boards and found the disturbing trend. My point is the need to do a count more often that time of year. The method is not as important as the frequency.
    I'm smart but at the end of the day I'm still the help.

  11. #10
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    Jun 2016
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    Geauga, Ohio
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    To the OP: I have had mite drops of 500 in a 5 day period, multiple times this fall. Up to a week after an OAV treatment. I know my hives are broodless at the beginning of Nov, so those mites were either born earlier in the summer in my hive, or in someone else's hive.

    A few hundred mites on adult bees for a few days vs a few weeks - OK. Leaving that until brood production starts - very bad. So hard to control mite populations once they are hidden under the cap.

    I mean, if you have 30000 bees in the hive, how can 300-1000 mites impact more than 3% of that total? You might have 1000 mites in a hive that had a 300 mite drop in a day, or in a week. Only the dead ones fall in my hive, for the most part. I don't even sticky my boards and I see plenty of dead mites under the right circumstances!

    So that's what goes through my mind during a broodless period - how long can the adult bees take a mite population of 1000 or so?

    It is critical to understand that just because some dead mites were on the board, unless the hive is pretty much broodless and it is within a week of treatment, it is very hard to interpret. 300 mites fell. Does that mean 10,000 mites did not? Does that mean 300 mites on bees tried to make it into the hive from away, and were chucked off? Were those just dead mites cleaned out of brood cells once brood emerged? Dunno. Unless you know the mite status prior to treatment, or you know they don't have brood, or you know you treated recently and expect a good kill rate.

    So in the fall, I use those mite drops as important information. During times with brood, I would not. Then I use an alcohol wash.

    So good job to all the beeks taking notes and counting mites! It's eye opening and can be reassuring - or a source of that "uh-oh" feeling!

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    To the OP -
    https://www.mitecalculator.com/
    I had a hive over 900 mite drop in early September, hive still heavily brooding.
    Treated every 4 or 5 days with OAV until Oct.26, count dropped to 45 in 24 hours, but still scary to me.
    At 30,000 bees that’s a 0.15% infestation rate.
    Had to stop due to cold weather.
    Like TBW I don’t use stickies, dead is dead.
    Weirdly, only the one hive had the grotesque high mite counts. Brooding longer than normal, maybe?
    All the other hives had much lower drops.
    I had no wish to do a deep dive in October at my latitude.
    Best regards,
    Brian

  13. #12

    Default

    So the OP here. When I said I don't know how to interpret the data it is because it’s not associated with a treatment. Boards were all clean following treatment (except the one noted to have Apivar).

    The hive being treated was lower than other hives which is what confused me most.

    Thanks for the good conversation on this.
    Last edited by BecunaBees; 11-25-2019 at 07:43 PM.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    once upon a time, 10 years ago, I was a first year beekeeper. I listed to everything folks told us, and dilligently put the sticky boards in to check if our colonies had mites. There were two colonies in one location, side by side. After a couple days sticky boards came out and we counted mites. First board had zero, second had one. All was good, no need to do anything. Then over dinner my wife and I got to talking, and I asked a dumb question. If the dog came in and dropped 'just one flea', what would we do ? Answer is, treat the dog for fleas. so, I got out the package of treatment strips we had, and went ahead put them in both hives along with freshly cleaned sticky boards. Two days later I pulled out the boards and started counting. I never did get an accurate count, on the first board I lost track of what i was counting, didn't really matter as I was already past a thousand when I lost track of the count. I didn't bother starting the second board because just looking at it, it was very obvious it has a lot more mites than the first.

    The lesson we took away from that exercise, if the sticky board comes out clean with no mites, it means we have good strong healthy mites that are not falling off the bees.

    Since then, we have put zero credence into a count taken from a sticky board. So to answer the question in the original post, what should one make of the numbers on your sticky boards, our answer is, absolutely nothing, sticky board counts are meaningless.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    I go with trishbookworm's logic and established procedures for determining efficacy of a treatment. I do not know of any experiments that use alcohol wash methods except to prove alcohol wash counts are viable via incomprehensible statistical analysis methods ( to me anyways). I think the simple scientific explanation is to count the dead drop after each treatment. In the case of OAV, typically after 3 or 4 days; one day is too short unless doing dribble. This post dead drop data is summed with one of two mehtods; 1) kill the hive and wash out all remaining Varroa, 2) use a known effective treatment like AMitraz into a brood-less period. It's not often some one will kill a hive to find out the exact efficacy.

    I use Dead Drop Counts (DDC) in the Fall after supers come off. In Spring and Summer, I verify my hives have low Varroa counts by culling and sampling capped drone cells plus randomly sampling of capped worker cells. I am still learnign and developing this sampling method for accuracy. The numbers support the result of winter OAV treatments beign so beneficial. In the Fall I am looking for Varroa Bomb affects. My OAV treatment & DDC test plan is simple and based on accurately performing a DDC. I OAV treat after the Fall flow is over and robbing is beginning. IF DDC numbers are below 50 I wait 2 weeks, 50 to 100 I judge the hive size and condition, over 100 I treat all hives. As Trish said, the DDC tells you when robbing or horizontal spreading of Varroa is invading you see it in the DDC. If you plot it versus time you can clearly see the invasion hump, estimate daily invasion rates and detect which hives are resistant and which hive is not. Big hives are big robbers and have early big DDC numbers. A hive with very weak resistance is detectable as the hump is spread out over time versus other hives. ( trying ot figure out how to find this type of hive earlier in the season as i have one - sample every hive?)

    Finally, my Contrarian attitude knows I committed heresy by dumping on alcohol washes, for sure minimal efforts will find nothing. This has been the worse year for Varroa and the best year for honey and survival - so far. It was a long foraging and best season.

    I have killed 13,470 for 9 hives. DDC numbers are a high of 3031 for one hive, low is 452, typical is 1400. A brood break hive showed a DDC of 291 in mid September! This was followed by an Varroa invasion hump a few weeks later. Guess who I am breeding, if possible, and who is likely to succumb over the winter.

    I find post-treatment Dead Drop Counts very useful. I found alcohol washes a lagging indicator.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    Quote Originally Posted by Kuro View Post
    I would happily wait until mid December to do winter-time OAV (I do weekly until mites stop dropping, typically 2-4 times).
    Extremely new bee keeping so forgive an odd question not so much about mite drops, but treating in Mid December which is normally in the middle of what is commonly the coldest/colder weather here in Western Washington State. Ambient temperature factors that should be considered?

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2019
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    Cumberland County, NC
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    Good question. Temperature is most definitely a factor. In fact, the local bee shop owner here in NC will not let you leave until you receive the full instruction sheet on how to use any given product - good for him as it sure can save a person some big mistakes if you bother to read.

    Every single one of the treatments available to us beekeepers has a temperature operating range that should be checked before you decide to use it. I also understand that an integrated pest management approach is truly the only way to succeed.

    My take so far for any given product:

    1- If you use it on the high end of the range, you need to consider the effects on the hive overall (time of year, ventilation, population, etc). It could kill you hive just as badly to get an overdose of some sort of vapor or some chemical - even the natural stuff can be too much.

    2- On the flip side, if you use a product on the low side of the range, the effectiveness will be diminished. It would be something you'd have to account for because the period prescribed for its use might then be insufficient in the end.

    In my short time as a beekeeper, I feel that while science can teach us a lot about how bees/hives operate in general, managing them is somewhat of an art, combined with some luck depending on mother nature.

    If we come to beekeeping looking for silver bullet solutions, we will fail every time. Approaching hive management as a scientist would any experiment is key. Results are always meaningful in PROPER CONTEXT. But you gotta define that context for yourself. Good thing that beekeepers in general are happy to share what they know!

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Holcombe View Post
    I find post-treatment Dead Drop Counts very useful. I found alcohol washes a lagging indicator.
    I agree that one number on its own doesn't mean much, if anything. But many crossed referenced numbers definitely do! Don't forget the success rate we're given by the manufacturer for each type of treatment.

    Example:

    If your last alcohol wash gave you a 5% count in a 30K hive, then you decide to treat with something that get you 98% kill rate, you should expect to see around 1470 mites on your sticky board, give or take a few.

    Of course you have to be good at estimating your hive size. But estimates are a beekeepers friend. The only real figures we DO have are mite counts on the board, and those manufacturer specs. I'd say that counting mites never was more important, if you're looking to maximize your efforts that way.

    You also have to consider the mites that in the cells. That means time of year matters in the decision for one product over another. My understanding is that the only product that will help beekeepers with mites under caps is Formic-Pro, formerly known as MAQS.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    We used DDC on 24 hours to verify the effectiveness of thermal treatment with The Victor, which heats the brood super to 106F for three hours. We counted each 24 hour period for 15 days after treatment. Typically, we would get a count in low 100's the day of treatment which was the phoretic mites, and thirties for each day for 14 days after which were the mites killed in the capped brood. And, after 14 days the count would drop to single digits when all the capped brood that were treated had hatched. We like the fact that our data had two significant digits rather than one, which is all you get with a wash or sugar roll. Therefor more precise, if not perfect.

  20. #19

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    I think one of the data points I want to track next year is weekly sticky board counts, with treatments and when not treating.

    Might be an interesting trend. Built a spreadsheet to do it.

    I am going to treat a couple (/three or four) of times around Christmas (winter solstice) to hit the winter brood break. Have friends already loosing their bees. End of September I was getting no drops when I quit treating on all but one hive. That Hive had Apistan until this last weekend (the start of my data taking).

    See how it goes. Learning tons. This is less about science as it is about an art of learning what they want and when (science included with that).

  21. #20
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    Default Re: Bottom Board Mite Counts

    Quote Originally Posted by 1garysaccount View Post
    Extremely new bee keeping so forgive an odd question not so much about mite drops, but treating in Mid December which is normally in the middle of what is commonly the coldest/colder weather here in Western Washington State. Ambient temperature factors that should be considered?
    I wait until mid December because I get a better chance to hit the broodless moment (i.e., 2nd OAV a week later gives near-zero drop). But if I saw >20 natural drops per day in mid November, I would have started then, and I probably had to do 4 weekly OAVs before mites stop dropping.

    Usually I can find >40F afternoons in December (I do not like doing OAV below 40F, although it is said that >37F is fine).
    Zone 8, elevation 70 ft, North Seattle area.
    Bee plants and their pollen. https://chabol.wixsite.com/mysite

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