(sent mainly to beekeepers in northern-tier states)

Steve Park generously shared his (and Lyle Johnston's) menthol program for trachael mites:

Place 1 oz of menthol chrystals* on a napkin, on top of a 2-story colony just before supering in June.

*available from I.P. Callison & Sons, 600 Steward St., Seattle, WA 98101; (206)441-7752; around $500 for a 55 lb box (56¢/oz.).

Menthol chrystals have far more surface area than menthol balls, thus giving a far greater short-term effect.

Trachael mites (TM) are the ''silent killers''. You won't see any noticeable difference in bee colony strength during the summer, but keeping TM suppressed does not allow them to rebound to damaging levels in the fall. Consider a similar treatment when the honey flow is over and supers are off.

The above is for Montana and northern-tier states (most CA colonies are supered). Temperatures in CA could be too warm for optimum menthol control. Menthol works best at 65-75ºF (although bees keep the brood nest warmer). Monitor temperature forecasts prior to using.

Keep grease patties on your colonies year-round (O.K. during a honey flow); solid vegetable shortening and sugar at a 2:1 ratio.

If you're not sure a menthol treatment will help you, at least consider treating test colonies. Compare these colonies with untreated colonies in January (you may not see any differences until January).

Beekeepers that have a good TM program invariably have the best bee colonies in February.

We tested a few bees for TM that were taken from almond orchards this year and plan to test more next year. The almond grower suffers FAR more than the beekeeper from TM, because TM exerts their greatest negative effect on colony populations during almond bloom.

We plan to take more bee samples for TM from almond bees next year.

For more information on menthol control for TM, contact Steve Park, (530)549-3500 or Lyle Johnston (719)254-6321

Utah Warning
The Calif. Dept. of Food and Agriculture recently assured me that RIFA (red imported fire ant) inspection certificates were not needed for bees leaving RIFA-free almond orchards (or areas) in California. On May 1, beekeeper Jeff Anderson had 2 loads of bees (from RIFA-free areas) held up at the Utah border because they didn't have paperwork showing they were RIFA-free

If you go through Utah, demand that your CA county give a piece of paper stating that the bees are free from RIFA (they don't necessarily have to look at the bees to do so).

Joe Traynor, Mgr.

P.O. Box 2144
Bakersfield, CA 93303
(661) 327-2631
Toll-free: (877) 356-5846