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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Am writing for some information from my fellow central NYers or those in similar climates. What mite count thresholds do you decide to treat on?

I have tried sugar/alc rolls, and they are intrusive and I don't like them. So for now I am just using sticky boards and I typically do a three day count and average. Right now I am on day one and more than 24 hours in my larger hives (5 mediums+) I have 34, 32 and 42 mites (didn't check on my new starts this year). What really surprised me was that the large hive that had I had been robbing brood from for nucs had the highest count.

Please let me know your thoughts. In the end I would likely be considering treatment with something like apiguard, maqs ro similar. I might try pulling and freezing seom frames of drone brood too, though I had to do it.

Thanks all.
 

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You can plan on having mites. Hives should be treated the end of July or early August to have low levels of mites going into the winter bee raising season. MAQS if you plan to make fall honey to extract. Dr. Calderone did a study at Cornell and found monthly drone brood removal kept levels low till august, then they were the same as the controls. a waste of time and energy for the bees and the beek.
Nick

Also, you might think about treating the big one now. You have a good mite load in my opinion.
 

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I agree with funwithbees. This is from Randy Oliver, Scientific Beekeeping. I found reading his work helpful.

“Unchecked, the mite population will double roughly every month during broodrearing. Understand the concept of doubling. If the mite population doubles from 200 to 400 in May, the colony will barely notice; doubling from 400 to 800 in June will start to stress the bees. The July mite population doubles again from 800 to 1600, and now the bees are definitely stressed, honey production is hurt, and viruses start to spread. What you’re most concerned with, is any further doubling once the total mite population passes the 1000 mark (a daily sticky count of around 25, or 4-5 mites in a 300-bee jar sample). Once they pass this level, they appear to explode. If you reach this level in mid August, just before the mite population peaks, no problem. But if you reach it in early July, you’d better pull your honey supers and knock ‘em back!
Come mid August, get mite levels down so that the colony can rear healthy “winter” bees. Then sample again in fall to see if mite reinfestation has taken place. Once the colonies have gone broodless, you can greatly reduce the population of overwintering phoretic mites with powdered sugar dusting or oxalic acid dribble (where it’s legal).”
 

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Take a look at Randy Oliver's web site www.scientificbeekeeping.com - you'll want to poke around all of the Varroa stuff - what you should search out is information on Varroa population dynamics. Varroa population cycles - so you can't use a static count as indicative of a problem - it needs to be in context!

Natural mite drop is not especially accurate. Since you don't want to do anything intrusive you have some choices to make - the biggest is are you going to do anything about Varroa and the second is since accurate counts are not available are you going to treat according to someone's calendar or based on what you see in the hive(s?)

Without accurate testing you risk over or under treating.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I agree like most things treating is complex, and based on the hive circumstances, health etc. So far I don't see disease in the current three colonies I kept intact this year. But to me the mite load seems very close to critical mass (or at it). Two of the colonies I want to get honey from. The other has been a brood raiser for me.

I had been reading Randy Olivers site in the past. I like now that it notes oxalic acid is approved for use as a wood bleach in the hives, to "clean up your top bars". I must admit I had been investigating OA last year along with the others I had listed. Seems like it has a lot going for it, except of course that it is not approved.

Your point about doing anything at all is a valid one too. This will be a moment for me to make that decision.

Margot - thanks for the post with those numbers- very helpful!
 

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Keep in mind that whatever you are seeing now will be multiplied as the season goes by w/ each round of brood.

Do you have any combs that are all drone brood? Or have big patches of drone brood? Capped? Take one of those w/ the most drone brood on it out of your hive and, using a bread knife, decapitate the drone caps just like you would were you extracting honey. Then, holding the end bars in each hand w/ the top bar away from you tap the top bar on a hive cover so whatever is in the drone cells falls on the cover. It'll be the decapitated drone pupae. This is best done when the drones are at the blue eye stage, but any time after caps are present works alright.

You will see mites crawling around amonsgt and upon the drone pupae. I bet you will see lots of them.

There is a treatment recommendation threshold when one uses the ether roll test or the alcohol wash test or the powdered sugar test, but drop data isn't necessarily all that indicative. For instance, you will see an increase in the drop after you work through all of the frames in a hive. That's just natural, but it doesn't mean that all of a sudden there are more mites in your hive, just that they got knocked off of bees.

Check Randy Oliver's Scientific beekeeping. He probably has treatment thresholds listed there. I treat by the season more than the mite count. I won't be treating again until when the last honey supers come off.
 

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Here are the recommended thresholds for Ontario:

http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/food/inspection/bees/2014-treatment.pdf

The alcohol wash is much more accurate than sticky board. The sticky board has no adjustment for colony size. It is destructive, but I find it helpful to think of the hive as a super organism, with bees being like cells in your body - always dieting and being replaced.
 

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With VARRO dropping like that over night on a sticky board I bet you have a mite bomb getting ready to blow.
I would hit them with OAV works great .
I treated all my hives in the fall of last year and I had lot's of mites .
I have only tested {alcohol wash} 1 hive so far this year and that hive had no VARRO.
I plan on testing all hives next month.
Do nothing you may have a mess later the peak time for VARRO is coming.
 

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So for now I am just using sticky boards and I typically do a three day count and average. Right now I am on day one and more than 24 hours in my larger hives (5 mediums+) I have 34, 32 and 42 mites (didn't check on my new starts this year).
Thanks all.
pick one hive, treat it with sticky board in and see what you have for mites. Then you can decide what to do with the rest of the hives. Note: if they start crashing let me know so I can treat my hives across the street. If you have honey supers on, I have some MAQS in the freezer if you need them.
 

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I have only tested {alcohol wash} 1 hive so far this year and that hive had no VARRO.
I had an Apiary Inspector checking some of my hives on early Summer day. He did an ether roll of about 250 to 300 bees and came up w/ a Zero. "Do it again.", I said, "I don't believe it." He did and came up w/ two mites. So much like the luck of the draw this mite sampling. I can't wait to see the day when a person can stick a probe, or their smart phone, in or near the entrance of a hive and get some sort of reading telling whether the mite/bee ratio is high or low. "Bones, get over here w/ your tricorder thingamajig." (spell check didn't like the way I spelled tricorder, but no problem w/ thingamajig? Huh.)
 

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To get an even remotely accurate mite count using an alcohol wash, you need to get nurse bees out of your brood nest. The results help you determine your next course - in combination with what your eyes are seeing. How you respond is based upon your philosophy, your bees and your bee's lineage. If you want to go treatment free and are starting with a package of bees that have always been treated, then attempts to go treatment free are likely to fail resulting in dead bees. If you don't have concerns over what you put in your hive as long as someone somewhere has approved it, then GLOCK's suggestion has some merit.

Learn the mode of action for any Varroa control you decide to use. OA vapor, for example, does not penetrate cell cappings and so requires a series of applications. Learn if you can collect honey for human consumption (in other words have supers on) with your mite treatment of choice.

Some people swear by natural mite drop - others swear at it. I don't run screened bottom boards so I don't have a dog in that debate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
pick one hive, treat it with sticky board in and see what you have for mites. Then you can decide what to do with the rest of the hives. Note: if they start crashing let me know so I can treat my hives across the street. If you have honey supers on, I have some MAQS in the freezer if you need them.
Thanks for the offer wilbranch. I might take you up on the maqs.

Right now all hives are healthy, but I will let you know if they crash, hoping not to let it get that far.

Thanks for the follow up info everyone.

I actually researched treatments quite a bit last year. truth is I became so busy with nucs and grafting this year, things were going so well I didn't plan for mites yet, yes I know I should have been.

1. Maqs can be hard on queens (can use with supers on). They might work for three hives this year as I have back up queens in the making that should be laying in the next week or two.
2. apiguard - good for spring and or fall treatments but can't have supers on
3. oa , not technically approved unless I want to bleach my frame tops. Need to be broodless to have the highest efficacy. But you can fume whenever you pretty much want to. 1 g per deep is the suggested amount I have read. If treating with brood, you need to treat once a week for three weeks.
4. Apistan - most beeks tell me resistance is up here in my area, and I won't use it for other reasons.


If OA was approved, I would used it in a second. Though I question if its lack of approval is enough to stop me from using it since it seems to be as good a silver bullet as any treatment. It seems the fuming would work well for me, since I have all the necessary safety equipment from other hobbies/ projects (ventilator, gloves, etc). I don't really sell honey, but I eat it. I give it to those I love, so I am concerned a bit about OA. I also have no way to test my own honey (reasonably) to ensure there isn't anything out of whack.

Ether rolls and sugar rolls from the nurse bees is what I did last year. To Marks point, sometimes I came up with nothing and took another sample and found mites. I am not convinced it is as accurate as people would like to think. I am not saying sticky boards are, but they do tell you something. What that is, is you have some mites. Maybe not exactly how many, but they do tell you something.

For the long rung, I would like to be tx free. However, I am not there yet. I need to continue to regress my bees, input more tx free type stock, continue to breed. All of those things I ma doing, but need bees to do them.
 

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You can pull your honey supers when you treat with OAV.
Looks like this

I hook the vaporizer to the battery and wait till the OA starts to vaporize and then slide it in the entrance put the towel over the entrance and count to 60 unhook from the battery and walk away . Come back in 3 mins and do the next it's that easy and cheap . On day 3 the drop on my hives looked like this {last year} I treated 4 time by the time there was no brood in the hives last fall so far this year I see no PMS I have healthy bees.
 

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I use the Varrox. I got it from "SNL". See the "For Sale" forum. It's a quality product.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks all. Looks like I have some consideration ahead of me!

I actually just found out it might not be as bad as I thought. I always could all the varroa, even the nearly translucent or lighter covered shells. I just heard those are not actually varroa, but a exoskeleton or similar. That I should only be counting the dark maroon colored ones. So back I go to retry for a more accurate sample.
 

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I made some jar sampling for mites last week and found that hives that were having a brood break like the cutdown splits and nucs have an infestation bellow 1%. I also sampled a hive with a prolific queen that was formed when I did the cutdown splits in May(this one started from 1 brood frame and has now about 5 brood frames). So this hive had about 3% mite infestation. So I gave this one only an OAV yesterday and put a sheet of paper(didn't have a sticky board at hand) bellow the frames. This morning I counted about 10 mites already. I only used OAV so far as mite treatment but I'm also considering FA and mostly non-treatment.
When I will have enough hives I will choose not to treat, let's say 20, monitor them for mites and breed from the survivals.

I forgot to mention that the last treatments were made last Autumn.
 

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For instance, you will see an increase in the drop after you work through all of the frames in a hive. That's just natural, but it doesn't mean that all of a sudden there are more mites in your hive, just that they got knocked off of bees.
It sounds like mechanical dislodging could be a treatment for the varroa problem if what you are saying is true. Maybe this is Dee's key to success just keep slamming boxes down on the hive. Maybe we should use the leaf blower on a cycle instead of just harvest time. Ah, if I could only find the queen. But wait, pouring them through a QE could dislodge some more.
I wonder if we could get the bees to pass through a 3/8 mesh that was vibrating at some optimal frequency. It could be placed above the entrance at the bottom of the hive that has a SBB.
 

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It sounds like mechanical dislodging could be a treatment for the varroa problem if what you are saying is true.
Not really an effective way to treat. And you would have to work through your hives frame by frame, which would not be something some people are prone to do.
 
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