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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I tested four of my hives yesterday about a cup of bees from each.

The counts were 2 (May 2014 package), 1 (April 2014 package), 1 (May 2014 package), and 0 (June 2014 Swarm).
All three packages have gone through broodlessness (two supercedures (both sucessful), one queen rejection and failure to raise so we introduced a queen). The swarm has been doing well as far is brood goes since capture in the second week of June. All hive do have all stages of brood and a laying queen, so I believe that can skew results a bit as most of the mites would be in brood, correct?

I don't know what to make of the results, and it's only one sample point. How often should I recheck? Every couple of weeks?

Thanks!
 

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All hive do have all stages of brood and a laying queen, so I believe that can skew results a bit as most of the mites would be in brood, correct?

I don't know what to make of the results, and it's only one sample point. How often should I recheck? Every couple of weeks?
Correct!:)

However, as the brood emerges so will the mites...if you consider a brood cycle to be 21 days, then testing or checking for mites every 2-3 weeks should give you a better idea of what's going on.

You are in IA, I am in NC...so location and other factors are certainly different.

But, for what is worth, I checked my hives by actually uncapping capped brood and looking/counting for mites. Tedious work...hard on the eyes. But, at least in my yards, the pattern that emerged was that July, early August, is when the peak mite population was being "formed"...that is, on sugar shakes in July and early August I did not see a whole lot of mites...but clearly they were there, under the cappings getting too "cozy" with the poor bee brood , getting ready to explode at about the same time the bee population hit its peak, and the dearth was ready to set in...not a good combination.
 

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A whole cup?!! That's a lot. Most recommendations I've seen are for 1/3 to 1/2 a cup depending on which expert's guess you use, and good luck getting the bees to cooperate. To be sure of the count, you'd need to use an alcohol wash instead, which is somewhat more accurate, but kills the bees. But you can count them afterwards. Most of us prefer live bees to moderately higher meaning to the numbers.

Our sugar roll last weekend we switched to Randy Oliver's 3/4" deep layer of bees in the bottom of a 1 qt mason jar, estimated as 300 bees. If you are really filling a cup I would expect you are getting about twice that. Nothing wrong with that, but adjust your numbers accordingly.

I tested early in the summer when expected counts were low just to work out the bugs before the population grew later. I was getting one mite per roll then. I tend to do it about once a month but that's just to get the hang of it and watch the trend. If I had a lot of hives and more experience I'd time it to when it counts. Which is about now.

Small counts are subject to low statistical validity. For example, this particular hive we counted on Saturday started out with one mite in June, got up to 2 mites in the July counts, and Saturday produced 0, yes zero mites. I know good and well they're in there. 14 dropped in 6 days into the oil tray under the SBB. I'll keep an eye on this hive into September, but the mite load is presently below any treatment threshold I've seen.

From our fall management class, there was a graph presented showing bee and varroa populations during the year. Around August-September, the hive kicks the drones out and starts paring back their population for winter. At that point, the varroa lose their preferred brood location: capped drone brood. They switch to worker brood. Bee population begins dropping but varroa keeps increasing. Bad situation. So I would get numbers before and after the drones are expelled.

The real question is, is there any sign of mite-transmitted diseases? K-wing? Deformed wings? Paralyzed bees? K-wings have multiple causes, but deformed wings and paralyzed bees strongly suggest mite-transmitted diseases, and that's what will kill your hive in the winter. If you are seeing that, your tolerance of mites gets adjusted down.
 

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I just got back from a two day NY Bee Wellness Workshop. Les Eccles, of the Ontario, Canada, Honeybee Tech Transfer program said that 4 mites this time of year in a powdered sugar shake test, using a half cup of bees (approximately 300 bees) taken from brood frames is a good number to have this time of year and treatment would not be needed. At this time.

So if you had a full cup of bees, 600 bees, your numbers are really good. Check again in a couple of weeks. Or three. Or even again soon, just to practice and verify your findings.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
A whole cup?!! That's a lot. Most recommendations I've seen are for 1/3 to 1/2 a cup depending on which expert's guess you use, and good luck getting the bees to cooperate. To be sure of the count, you'd need to use an alcohol wash instead, which is somewhat more accurate, but kills the bees. But you can count them afterwards. Most of us prefer live bees to moderately higher meaning to the numbers.

Our sugar roll last weekend we switched to Randy Oliver's 3/4" deep layer of bees in the bottom of a 1 qt mason jar, estimated as 300 bees. If you are really filling a cup I would expect you are getting about twice that. Nothing wrong with that, but adjust your numbers accordingly.

I tested early in the summer when expected counts were low just to work out the bugs before the population grew later. I was getting one mite per roll then. I tend to do it about once a month but that's just to get the hang of it and watch the trend. If I had a lot of hives and more experience I'd time it to when it counts. Which is about now.

Small counts are subject to low statistical validity. For example, this particular hive we counted on Saturday started out with one mite in June, got up to 2 mites in the July counts, and Saturday produced 0, yes zero mites. I know good and well they're in there. 14 dropped in 6 days into the oil tray under the SBB. I'll keep an eye on this hive into September, but the mite load is presently below any treatment threshold I've seen.

From our fall management class, there was a graph presented showing bee and varroa populations during the year. Around August-September, the hive kicks the drones out and starts paring back their population for winter. At that point, the varroa lose their preferred brood location: capped drone brood. They switch to worker brood. Bee population begins dropping but varroa keeps increasing. Bad situation. So I would get numbers before and after the drones are expelled.

The real question is, is there any sign of mite-transmitted diseases? K-wing? Deformed wings? Paralyzed bees? K-wings have multiple causes, but deformed wings and paralyzed bees strongly suggest mite-transmitted diseases, and that's what will kill your hive in the winter. If you are seeing that, your tolerance of mites gets adjusted down.
My aim was for a whole cup in a smaller mason jar (didn't have a bigger one). I think it's a 24 ounce jar, so smaller than a quart. It had "1 cup" labeled on the side, I would say I between 3/4 and 1 cup on all four hives.

I have seen no signs of sick bees in any of these hives, but this is my first year. So take that for what it's worth.

did you take your samples from bees on frames of brood.
Yes, but these were all top bar hives (shouldn't make a difference). I took bees from bars that had bees actively emerging on them if at all possible. Some drones in the mix as well.

I have not tested my two lang hives yet, but will soon. One is raising a queen at the moment and I do not want to dig around in there while they are doing that.
 
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