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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
When a colony dies in winter, do the mites fall off of the bees or stay on them? Autopsying hives and wondered...

Sorry...just saw typo in title and could not fix...

Thanks,
John
 

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I'm pretty sure that some do and some don't.
 

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I have done alcohol washes from winter deadouts and find mites. Not sure how the numbers can be interpreted compared to samples from live hives though.
 

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I occasionally see an attached mite on dead bees collected on the floor (SBB, but over a solid BB and with the varroa screen inserted below) of my hives. I have generally quite low mite drop numbers during this winter's constant survey of them. I know of no data table to allow assessment of any particular number and its corresponding rate of predation in winter bees. But I still collect the info, just in case I find a reliable table to with which to interpret it.

BTW, many apparently "dead" bees on the floor of the hive are actually only cold-stunned and will revive if you warm them up. Whether it's a good thing to do (re-warming them) or not, I am not sure. I have changed frm removing all the dead bees I could reach, to just making sure the entrance is not clogged with them, leaving them otherwise in the hive for the morgue bees to deal with when it gets warmer. I figure they are better judges of when "dead" really means dead.

Enj.
 

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I'm pretty sure that some do and some don't.
Agreed. During my bond experiment I followed mite infested hives right through to death. When the point came all brood was dead and all adult bees sick, and dying off fast, the bees were sometimes crawling with mites they could literally be seen all over the bees.

Examining those bees when the hive was totally dead, an odd dead mite could be found on a bee. The rest of the mites, being the great majority, had mysteriously vanished.

So now I take the view that for whatever reason some mites may stay or die on a dead bee but most somehow move on. Lack of numbers of mites in the dead bees and frass at the bottom of a dead hive is not proof the hive did not die of mites.
 

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makes sense ot and dan. the op was asking about winter dead outs though, and some of the beltsville results posted here lately found mites on the the dead bees of winter losses. in warm weather i would expect the mites to crawl off and look for another host.
 

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Maybe it does not matter if mites fall off dead bees or not. What matters most is that they cannot reproduce if there are no brood cells and therefore will all die in time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks, gents. Sounds like Varroa, not cold got them. I will try doing an alcohol wash just to see what I find. Of course, that means waiting for some warmer weather so I can first find the hives after the latest snow...

John
 
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