Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?
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  1. #1
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    Default Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    I've been worried about mite infestation lately on my two hives and was curious about a few things on doing a Formic Pro treatment. I had tested a couple of weeks ago with an alcohol wash on both hives and had zero mites on both. I also have three partial (probably closer to filled by now) mediums on top of double deeps on both-bottom supers are wet comb from a harvest last weekend that I put on as our fall flow is just starting and while I don't really need any honey right now, I'd like to have some additional stores for late winter. Both hives appeared very strong with plenty of eggs, brood and bees when opened for the wash. The girls are very hygienic, dead bees are routinely carried off by "undertakers" and over the last two weeks, they've been bringing out dead larvae (3-7 "pieces/parts") in the morning which I thought initially were drone brood (larger bodies) as part of the late summer clean up. This morning an undertaker was struggling to take off with a live bee and crashed near the hives while I was watching them. It appeared to be a deformed wing disease victims, just nubs for wing and I have it in a sample jar I keep near the hive. It was the only one I saw but I know that this is a lagging indicator. The hive hasn't been treated since I pulled the Aviptar strips in early May with the clover flow starting but as I said I had clean washes and no other indicators-reading these forums, I'm worried about a fall mite bomb.

    With that, temperatures for the next few days are supposed to be clear-low in the mid sixties, highs near 80. Any issue with chilled brood if I do this (splitting the two brood boxes to place the Formic Pro strips) during the mid day highs? I'm planning on a two strip 14 day treatment tomorrow. I have an OAV wand and was trying to hold off until the fall flow slowes down and do a 4 x 5day treatment with it and a final no brood in late November/early December.

    Somebody talk me off the ledge here!

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    Quote Originally Posted by LarryBud View Post
    Any issue with chilled brood if I do this (splitting the two brood boxes to place the Formic Pro strips)
    Why are you splitting the brood boxes? You should not need to change the hive configuration with formic pro.

    What is your current (this week) mite load?
    3 Hives, Started in 2017, Learning as I go
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  4. #3
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    If there is brood in both boxes, the recommended method is to place the pads between the boxes.
    42 + years - 24 colonies - IPM disciple - Naturally Skeptic

  5. #4
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    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    I assume Larry means splitting the boxes simply means separating them to place the pads on the top bars of the lower brood chamber. If this is the case, there is no chance of chilling brood at those temps and could be done at almost any temp because it takes 30 seconds to do.
    If you are confident you are doing the mite wash correctly, you shouldn't treat. The results of the wash not only tells you when to treat, but when not to.
    If I were in your position, I would do an OAV and count the drop. From there, decide whether to do a series. It seems like a fall oav "clean up" is all you may have to do this year. You are correct to be vigilant at this time of year. J

  6. #5
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    Thanks Fivej. Yes, when I said split the boxes I did mean separating the top and bottom deeps. When I did the mite wash, I took a unch of nurse bees from different frames from both top and bottom brood boxes. It had been a while since I went into the broods so as part of the harvest I went all in, did the wash first, then pulled selected supers, mostly 95% capped and left 3 supers that were partial on the hive in reversed order. (we had 4 on 1 and 5 on the other-almost 10 gallons yield) The broods were apart for about 5 minutes but it was near 90 F that day. I dumped all of the nurses into a Tupperware container, checked for the Queen (was still in the hive on both), let some fly off (mixed foragers?) and took a nicely rounded off 1/4 cup-nothing in either (although my blue haired partner and 17 y/o daughter, Ms. Smurfette thought she saw one- I thought wax flake). After the harvest, I returned a wet super (all mediums) to each hive because we're seeing the beginnings of a great fall flow-plenty of knapweed, budding goldenrod and rain every other night, sunny warm days. So now, I've got 3 supers on one, 4 on the other and both hives are very active. What do you think, I'd rather be safe and protect my bees so I'll pull the supers if you think I should do an OAV. I have everything here and ready for OAV.

    I'm new at this and bumbling through it, we got lucky this year. We took a winter 3 day course with a local club but due to the COVID shutdown, the last class was canceled so I'm reading and appreciate all the help and advice from the Forum Members!!!

  7. #6
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    Ok, I did the Formic treatment with double formic pro pads between the upper and lower brood boxes.

    First lesson, wear a respirator. I had forgotten, right up until I was putting together the tools to take apart the hives, that I had given all of my half face, top of the line MSA masks and filters to my niece who is a young nurse, RN, in a ICU in North Jersey at the height of the pandemic when the hospitals couldn't supply PPE a few month back. I don't do Haz work any more and if something came up, well, I'm a big shot a work, I'll never go in the Zone anyway, that's for laborers. Ok I thought, I have the full face silicone, extreme top of the line MSA ($600) masks in my go bag. Perfect...until I realized it won't fit under my vail nor did I have an filters, they went to my niece . Ok, well I'm committed, how bad could it be? I'm big and tough and I'll be careful-at lease I had a box of 9 mm latex gloves for handling it.

    This was not only a bad idea, but an extremely stupid one, right up there with (back in the day) going home with an unknown girl, full drunk at 3 am from a seedy bar. Well, at least I think I still have my wallet today...needless to say I don't drink any more.

    If you get down wind, this stuff is the fowling smelling stuff ever invented-and I worked in the refineries back in the day on North Jersey's chemical coast. I was careful enough to stay up wind, keep it at arm's length but when I was manhandling what were, surprisingly very heavy brood boxes, I took a deep breath as I lifted and got a good deep whiff-YUCK!!! Hopefully I won't grow horns or another ear...

    We'll see how this goes. On a related note when I took off the top brood box on the second hive, I saw what I think were about a dozen queen cells which the separation tore apart. I scraped off a couple so I could lay the pads across the frames but was surprised that they were there this late in the year on a hive with a very solid, laying queen in an active productive colony and they all seemed to has multiple cells with viable larvae. I think this area is past drones, this and the other hive were ejecting them over the last month. It just seems every time I go near my hives, I learn something.

  8. #7
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    Quote Originally Posted by LarryBud View Post

    We'll see how this goes. On a related note when I took off the top brood box on the second hive, I saw what I think were about a dozen queen cells which the separation tore apart. .
    Did you find queen cups (empty cells for future use) or queen cells (large vertical cells with larve) or drone burr comb (typically larger horizontal cells)?

    If you post a picture we can help with identification.
    3 Hives, Started in 2017, Learning as I go
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  9. #8
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    Mr. Fud;
    I think that they were drone burr comb, I took a picture of a comb and larvae that were scrapped off. I didn't have any opportunity to photo the inside frames as I was doing this whole thing on both hives alone. One hive had two medium supers on top of the broodboxes and the other had three. The top broodbox (deeps) had very strong populations and were every bit of 100 plus pound which was a bit much on an elevated standIMG_3084.JPG

  10. #9
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    Ok;
    This mornings inspection showed a decent amount of dead larvae and bees on the landing boards of both hives. There were a few live drones outside hanging on the side wall of the yellow hive. The lavender hive, which was my hive of concern, had some dead larvae and debris on the landing board. I could still smell some formic in the air so they are getting a dose. There is a few undertaker bees flying off with dead but overall activity seems subdued, a few foragers heading out for the day's work and a few hive bees pushing out the dead for the undertakers. Part of me is saying I hope I didn't kill my hives, part of me thinks that this is what I should expect for the next few days. AdditionallyIMG_3086.JPGIMG_3087.JPGIMG_3089.JPGIMG_3090.JPG, weather is cool, low 60's and overcast with showers. I guess we'll see, I'll update as necessary.

  11. #10
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    I just put FP in my 3 hives yesterday. I'm worried I waited too long actually but here's hoping. In any case, you can expect dead bees and larvae the first few days, then they settle out. The main concern is queen death. I only do the one pad at a time treatment for 20 days and sometimes only do the one pad just to knock them down. A large hive I'll do two pads, 10 days each pad.

  12. #11
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    I was initially worried about the application but in seeing the result, this is the best results I could expect or want. In this afternoon's inspection, the girls were hauling away dead larvae and both dead and live (deformed wing) bees from the hive. They had cleaned up the mess on the landing boards almost immediately after the sun rose and in general, I think this worked out well. I will continue to report on this thread the progress over the next few days and thank those that advised and wrote support.

    In retrospect, I'd like all that read this to consider this when discussing the "ideal world of treatment free." In looking at the results I was pretty lucky that I do almost daily external visual inspection of my hives, looking at the bees coming and going while having my first cup of coffee in the morning. In doing that, it is how I first saw a few bees with deformed wings. I seriously believed that my hives were so strong, having just delivered almost a 100 pounds of honey, with an equal amount still on the hives, in their first six months. I figured I was gifted with super bees, we had great flows, all was good on planet earth and maybe I'd do OAV around Thanksgiving then call it good until we were wading in honey next spring. The reality is that these hives probably wouldn't have made December had I left them alone or wasn't watching them. Think about my experience next time you think about living in the ice cream and unicorn world -and you can put me on the IPM disciple list.

  13. #12
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    Right now is a critical time, mite populations are high while bee numbers start to decline. I have neighbors that don’t treat religiously though I wouldn't say they’re treatment free. I’m Less confident though I monitor levels. I may or may not treat in spring but always in august/sept then oav in November until I don’t see mites anymore.

  14. #13
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    This morning inspection showed some, nowhere near as many as yesterday, dead larvae and bees along with some dead mites. I guess the girls are pushing out everything that isn't viable. I am wonder if an infective pupa/larvae is infected with a mite that dies from the FA treatment, kills the pupa/larvae too? Or was that just the change in the internal environment from the treatment or even me struggling with the 100 pound plus brood boxes? The weather here really cooperated with the treatment, staying in the low to high 70 F around the clock and overcast with showers, keeping most of the girls in the hive. The undertakers are continuing to fly off with the dead and clean up the hive. The landing boards have a reasonable amount of "porch bees", wash boarding the surface clean of debris. Additionally, even with the cooler temps and overcast skies, foragers are coming and going and I am noticing yellow pollen coming back on them-goldenrod finally???

    The instructions say not to open the hive for the first 3 days and since the one hive is a screened bottom board, I'd like to pull the inspection board as soon as possible to see what a mite drop might be. I know the rest of the hive needs to stay closed for the balance of the treatment. Final question-do you leave any remaining FA or its wrappers in the hive or remove them after the 10 day treatment is over? Thanks again.

  15. #14
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    The initial shock takes out a few weak bees and probably kills some weak low viable larvae. And by a few that can be hundreds. That should also settle out after about 3 days, that's the most I ever see as far as a die off. Usually it's the first 24 hours then they get a bit lethargic and you see them more at the mouth of the hive likely fanning and/or just trying to avoid the fumes. The hive should be close up for the duration. The instructions say you don't have to remove the spent pad but I always do. They will eventually clean it up but since I'm in inspecting after the treatment time usually, I just take it out.

  16. #15
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    Just an update, Day 4 begins. My fears over killing my hive with an FA treatment were completely over thought, both hives appear to be at least no worse for the wear, and actually, I think they are greatly improved. The yellow hive appears to be completely recovered with normal activity of foraging and cleaning up. Yesterday they were very busy bring in yellow, white and even some bright orange pollen, Goldenrod, knapweed and sunflower? The hive of initial concern was the lavender hive which had me nervous, but by midday yesterday the activity had really picked up and while slightly less, were also coming back with pollens. This hive also seemed to have more dead's, bees and larvae, and as of this morning, were still moving them out for the undertakers to dispose. It appears that, with a nice heavy rain last night, the next four or five days are going to be clear and sunny, highs in the mid 80's, lows near 60-perfect weather for a great fall flow.
    I have a question though, specifically dealing with the weaker hive. With the amount of dead larvae, maybe around 100 estimated along with the impacts of the FA treatment on the hive, would the queen stop laying? This was my stronger hive although maybe not now and with a good month or so of fall flow coming, I'm hoping she's ok. I would note that the FA treatment instructions are not to open the hive up for a minimum of 7 days, so can get in there until Monday or Tuesday. It just happens that this hive has the solid bottom, the yellow has the screened.

  17. #16
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    Day 7 Update on the Formic Pro treatment. Pretty much Mamm7215 called it right. I am impressed with the results and will now include Formic Pro as a tool in my management plan going forward. Both hives are booming and we're going into what looks like a very long, Fall flow. The inspection board on the yellow hive has almost no mites, the few there are dead as a doornail. There is a lot of yellow pollen and white wax, I'll assume from the extracted supers that were put back on-they're working them and hopefully will be filling them up very soon. The lavender hive is bouncing back too, no deformed wing and they appeared to have gotten rid of a lot of infected larvae. They are also actively foraging and I am hopeful of a full recovery, increased stores and maybe some more honey before it's over. I plan on pulling the pads out on day 10, as directed in the Formic Pro directions 9and as suggested by Mamm7215. I will be looking for new eggs, capped brood and any increases in comb-possibly look at my queens. Put me on the IPM list.

  18. #17
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    I just want to add a caution to this thread. I inserted my 2nd pad on my 3 hives Sunday, wife noticed a small beard of bees under the landing board of one hive yesterday. I went to look and it looked more like a coffee cup sized swarm ball. Sure enough I could move it with my hand and bees totally calm. I got a coffee cup and piece of cardboard and scooped it up and put it on the top of the top cover and lo it was a small swarm ball protecting the queen who'd left the hive because of the Formic. It got suddenly warm yesterday after a cool spell and I think that it got too much. Rest of the day and this morning all is calm so I think I dodged one. Another caution for Formic, it's tough stuff on the bees and you need to be diligent. That said, it's almost eliminated completely the mites in 3 hives so far but I can't wait to pull the spent pads out.

  19. #18
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    I'm glad to hear that it went well. One of thing that you may have missed is in the Formic Pro instructions, it does say to add a temporary super as the bee cluster may expand or bearding may be experienced. I think this is on the second page (available on-line). I had the extra wooden ware so I was able to add a medium 10 frame with rite wax plastic foundations to both hives. I used Formic rather than start the OAV treatment because I had several supers on both hives and we're just starting what I'm told is a massive fall flow. Guess what happened when I opened the cover after seven days-they were already building comb on the added super! You do loose some larvae, pupa and some weaker/infected bees (I did the 14 day double pad method) but my 14 day inspection and the activity inside and outside is back to a very strong normal, I'm almost concerned for a swarm but I think they know better as it cools down here and have lots of room with the additional super. It appears that this fall flow is going to last another month or so, but I'm committing to an end of the month harvest, extract and place the wet supers back on, reduce as the fall population and then a 4-5 x 5 day OAV

  20. #19
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    Default Re: Formic Pro treatment-first timer questions?

    Ya I'd actually forgotten that, re-read the instructions. In any case i'd just pulled the supers off but I have 2 brood chambers, 1 deep and a medium on top, the FP pad goes in between them. It's cooler today and as the week goes on the FP will become weaker. No sign of trouble this morning, I'll have to see how later in the day goes.

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