Thanks. We have 2 new hives and live in NE PA. Cold here.
When would be a good time to treat with Formic acid pads?
We would rather not do a sugar roll.
as long as temps are between 50f - 85f you can use formic.
As long as the queen has been laying and there is brood. I cant imagine it would make your bees abscond.
As a new beekeeper I strongly encourage you to do alcohol washes regularly so that you can keep track of your infestation , learn the population patterns of varroa in your hives and see what's going on. Some of the folks that have been beekeeping for a while that use less accurate methods are probably already much more in tune with what's going with thier hives with experience. I know it hurts to kill 300 bees but you loose a lot more daily anyway and after you loose a few hives (or all of them) to virus's and varroa because you didn't test, got a huge infestation that transmitted virus's it will hurt a lot less.
When you have hives that collapse in winter and you say well "I treated with Apivar or OA in the fall, it wasn't mites" you won't know it wasn't mites if you didn't do alcohol washes all summer. If you have counts under 1% then yes it may not have been mites transmitting virus's... but if you don't do washes you won't know your treatment worked.
There are reports of resistance to Apivar popping up all over, how do you know it worked if your not doing washes? I learned this lesson myself when I first started using Formic Acid, my mentor helped me make up pads and we installed them, it was in the mid 80's and my bees were bearding. I was worried I was hurting my bees so I pulled my screen bottoms for more ventilation in the middle of the day for the first week. My mentor insisted that we do mite washes the next month.... guess what... my colonies were still above infestation threshold because I screwed up the treatment. We did another round of Formic with screen bottoms in and washed again 20 days later...0 mites. I would have known none of this if I wasn't washing.
I would be less passionate about this if my first year I didn't loose 100% of my colonies to virus's after using Apivar and OA vapor in the fall and ASSUMING that I was effectively treating my hives...white crystals all over my brood comb and mites all over my bottom boards indicated I had failed at keeping my mites in check