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I am a hobby beekeeper. Been keeping bees 15 or so years. And have been fighting mites the whole time. Have tried various treatments over the years. Some good results some not so good. Even tried not treating, thinking that the survivors would be resistant. Guess what? After two years there were no survivors!
Anyway, to make a long story short, would like to hear from the professional beekeepers about there methods and ideas for mite control.
I live in South Arkansas.
Thanks in advance.
 

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keep making those splits, keep building those nucs,
thats probably the best way to handle high wintering losses due to mites
it keeps a young queen in, old queens cant out pace the mites growth
 

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You need to start with good queens from a breeder who doesnt treat, that will get you off to a great start, clean all the old wax out of your hives to get rid of the residual poison, if you can buy from different breeders to keep the mix good, at some point it will take off. There are a lot of people on this site who have not treated for many years.
Bob
 

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I have had very good success using EO's. I give them in my spring feed and in my fall patties. When I first started I found that if I misted each comb with 1:1 with EO's it knocked them down to nothing and the feed kept them down. Do a search on this tread on EO's. We have talked about them on numerous occasions.
 

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I'm not a pro but will post here anyway:BEE CULTURE magazine June 2009 issue: "The most effective method to combat Varroa mites is to use honey bees that are resistant to Varroa mites. They exist. You can buy them. You can make them. They are Russians. They are the survivors. They are hygienic. They are better than the rest. If these bees aren't in your colonies, on your list to buy, on the way to your colonies today...then you are on the list of those who are on the way out. That we continue to pour poison into our boxes when we could be pulling pure and perfect honey out of them instead is amazing. It boggles the mind that this industry hasn't adopted these bees yet." Kim Flottum, editor

Several (if not all) Russian Honeybee Breeders Association members are treatment free. Carl Webb, Georgia, and Hubert Tubbs, Mississippi, are two that I'm aware of. They are both primarily honey producers with the queen business and nuc sales secondary parts of their operation. I've been treatment free for two years with good results.

Read the quote carefully. There should be no doubt as to the strength of Mr. Flottum's conviction as to where the industry should be headed.
 

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True, Russians are might resistant....mine are. However, I'm leaning Russians aren't a bee suited for every area. the queen won't lay unless there is pollen coming in. Pollen stops, so does laying/brood rearing. Mine have tiny wintering clusters and I'm finding they are very slow to build up in spring. Matter of fact, I can't induce mine to build up with pollen sub. they won't touch it. My three hives of ferals devoured the same pollen sub I gave them. I think Russians are "tempermental" in their colony habits. I do think their mite resistance is an important trait we need to incorporate into our bee gene pool through crossbreeding. However, I won't be keeping any more straight Russians.
 

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I feel treating is like an immunization shot for the bees. Also anything not brought into a hive by the bees is a treatment. We use legal and approved chemicals to treat our bees as do most commercial guys in our area. What ever treatment we use we change up each year and follow the instructions to the letter. Last year we used Ampi-guard this year will be something else I'm sure. Time is a issue with us we have to use a method that reasonably works and won't take alot of time doing.

Now watch what happens.
 

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deltacornbread, when I resumed beekeeping in the spring of 2006 it was with packages and queens from a breeder who didn't treat. He touted his bees as "resistant" and they have been. I have never treated and won't. Lost only one colony in 4 years... of course the jury is still out in this, my fifth year since resuming.
Regards,
Steven
 

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I am not a professional, just a hobby beekeeper in north Arkansas. My advice on mite control is as follows:

1. Start with a bee with a reputation for mite resistance, Russian, Buckfast or Minnesota Hygienic are good ones.

2. Use a screened bottomboard and keep the colonies in full sun. Use supers that are medium in color, the heat helps with SHB and with varroa.

3. Check mite fall with sticky boards. When the count reaches the level of 100 per 24 hours treat with Mite Away II or the new Mite Away strips that are comming out. If you treat at a temp higher than recommended you will kill some brood but you will still kill a lot of mites. The queen will lay enough brood to make up the losses. If you are not on beans, treat in late July/August. Stay away from the hard chemical strips.

4. Make splits/nucs and requeen after mite treatments are done. They will go into winter with mite free bees. They will over winter well and they will build rapidly the next spring. Keep 2 to 4 nucs just for spare queens and check their mite fall. Only about 1 out of every 4 or 5 will show good mite control.

5. The decision to treat or not treat is up to each beekeeper, I think it is more cost effective to check colonies and when I determine one is not going to make it, treat and requeen rather than let it die. When the new queen's brood hatches the varroa hygienic behavior may or may not be better than the previous queen's bees. If it improves, good, if it doesn't you still have bees to work with.
 

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"... use honey bees that are resistant to Varroa mites. They exist. You can buy them. You can make them. They are Russians. They are the survivors. They are hygienic. They are better than the rest. If these bees aren't in your colonies, on your list to buy, on the way to your colonies today...then you are on the list of those who are on the way out. .....It boggles the mind that this industry hasn't adopted these bees yet." Kim Flottum, editor
I've read enough to believe that Russians are not suited for every hive in every region, for every purpose. More importantly. I've read enough to know that mono-cultural practices, whether in vegetables, livestock, and, I presume, in honey bees is a dangerous thing.

I doubt that Mr Flottum is advocating the elimination of the existing diversity of the honey bee gene pool in favor of the Russian strains, but that is the impression I get from the quote I've seen here lately.

Wayne
 

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the mite treatment approaches used by commercial beekeeping will rarely find its way into a forum as this and certainly not without an alias involved.

most of the big operation use off label treatments that are not legal. in my view that is what 90% of those large operations are not posting here or any where online at least under their real names.

its one of the dark ugly secrets of this industry son.

stationary beekeepers can minimze treatments down to once in fall. if you're feedlotting your bees in CA over the winter you're growing mites. migratory operations then treat twice or more in season and therefore the legal treatments get cost prohibitive and some require more label then a shop towel the disintegrates.

amitraz is pretty much the material of choice. however word is in the industry that EPA is cracking down and there is now a zero tolerance for amitraz being used by most packers.
 

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.....3. Check mite fall with sticky boards. When the count reaches the level of 100 per 24 hours treat with Mite Away II or the new Mite Away strips that are comming out. If you treat at a temp higher than recommended you will kill some brood but you will still kill a lot of mites. The queen will lay enough brood to make up the losses. If you are not on beans, treat in late July/August. Stay away from the hard chemical strips...
OK as a beekeeper and honey producer, I have a problem with this statement.

1. Follow direction of any treatment (quote in red) Stick with following directions...do not treat when temps excede the limits. This promotes queen failure and brood loss. Now i understand the reason why some on here post that MA2 damages the hives, and not to use during spring build up...Follow directions folks!

2. (quote in purple). In an earlier thread a poster aluded to a a beekeeper who had low mite counts. I happened to mention that low without numbers is a selective term. Just a note...if my hives reached a 100 mite drop in a day, I would pull my hair out at the way i manage my hives. And MA2 will not drop the # fast enough for this high of a mite threshold. Add to that that by the time you get these high numbers, your deformed winged virus will rear it's ugly head well before this, that Kashmir Virus, the isreal..something or other virus will be above thresholds for the bees. Basically, the hive will be sick and if the hive is not sick, the upcoming brood cycles will be damaged.

If i saw 20 in a day dropping, that hive would be pulled out of honey production and some sort of treatment would be applied.

Please read following link, adapt the time line for your area.
http://www.capabees.com/main/files/pdf/varroathreshold.pdf

please note pages 4-8 for economic threshold #. There is also a chart on page 4 that converts drop counts to % count


Note this is for the canadian praires. Our spring work starts about April 15th to May 10, and our honey flows are July and August, and we start fall prep usually by the 15 of Sept, maybe the 1st depending on the weather. Wrapped or stored inside by the 31 of october, earlier if weather is colder. Average yield is anywhere from 150# to 250# of honey per summer.

100 mites a day...no wonder hives are collapsing...
 

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Honeyshack, remember all beekeeping is local. I am sure that your methods of beekeeping are best for your area and are profitable or you would not be using them. I uderstand that if you make your living with bees you must be careful with your methods and not take chances or you could lose the farm.

I am retired so I don't worry about income from my bees. I am a hobby beekeeper so I am able to try different methods and practices that are not condidered the "standard" method. I understand that treating with MA II works best when done within the temp limits but here in Arkansas those temps don't occur until mid October. That is usually too late to raise the adults for overwintering.

I have used MA II in 90 degree temp in July and August with results that I was satisified with. I had minor brood kill and probably a reduction in mite kill, but the levels were reduced to the point I had no over winter losses. I requeen after the treatment ends so queen loss is not problem.

The first week of each month in spring and summer I do a 72 hour mite fall count and average to get a 24 hour fall. I have a yard of 14 colonies that have had no mite treatment for 3 years and regularly drop over 100 mites during the count in July. DWV is common but the colonies have not crashed and they still make the 60 pounds that is the average for this area. I let these colonies supersede their queens and only requeen if there is a failure. That has happened with only one colony. I don't recommend this type of beekeeping and I mention it only to show that bees react differently in different locals. As for hives crashing, my losses have been a total of two hives in the last three years, out of fifty overwintered. So far this winter, zero out of thirtyeight.

The recommendations I made were based on my experience and work for me. Would they work for others? That I don't know. My practice is to believe nothing I read or am told about bee management until I try it myself. Even then I don't trust the information until it works at least twice.

Each persons bees are their property and they should be managed as they see fit, not as they are told to do by me or anyone else.

ps: I would kill for a location that gave 150 pounds!
 

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I am not a professional, just a hobby beekeeper in north Arkansas. My advice on mite control is as follows:

1. Start with a bee with a reputation for mite resistance, Russian, Buckfast or Minnesota Hygienic are good ones.
Thank you very much for the response. While you live up in "God's Country" and I live down here in Skeeterland, we are close enuff that I think your methods are compatible with mine. I do live in soybean country, so it is generally later than August for pulling all supers. Your Buckfast bees, are they good foragers?
 

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>>You need to start with good queens from a breeder who doesn't treat

well, if that fits your fancy, but that's not what I was getting at.
Resistant stock, tolerant stock, i dont know. It might be out there. I dont know of any breeding that doesn't require intervention within a couple of years. And thats also what I hear from breeders in the business, breeding for that "resistant"or "tolerant" queen.

What I am referring to is a young queen, to a new split or nuc. They will survive the winter with excellent odds as compared to a seasoned queen.
Nothing fancy here, just a plain youthful queen and stock.



You know, breeders up here are breeding for mite tolerance, and do you know what they are finding?
The hives that are surviving are the swarmy hives
Exactly the opposite characteristic of what the beekeeper is looking for.
Africanized bees prefer this same method of survival to combat the mites also.

It wasnt the feed back I was expecting to get back from these guys,
 

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i agree that russian stock is not for everyone. i have a few and they are not building as quickly as the MSH or VSH bees. these are hygenic lines and they build alot faster which works for me
 
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