Beesource Beekeeping Forums banner

1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
After a devastating October 2020 when my whole TBH bees left, due to varroa mites load, as it was pointed out to me then on this board, I am now done with the fully "let nature run its course, hands off" beekeeping theories that I had bought into for 7 years. In 2021, instead, I am going to start counting mites. While I still have not yet decided what method I will use to help my bees when I do find mites (still thinking and reading up on that one), at least this much I know, that I will start monitoring the little thingies. A beekeeper friend of mine told me, It's like if you have a dog with flees: you owe it to your dog, and you owe it to all the other dogs your dog will play with, to keep those fleas under control. And I saw the light.

I have a solid wooden bottom in the TBH. I thought that when I do a mite count, I would temporarily line the bottom inside with wax paper, or a thin plastic board, or construction paper. I thought I would spray some PAM (or just brush a very light coat of organic olive oil with my hand) on the wax paper or construction paper or whatever, so I can see any mites dropping and sticking to that lined bottom.

Question: will PAM (or olive oil) harm the bees if they walk on it? Do their legs stick to it, or only the mites? Also, should I put on top of the sprayed/oiled liner a 1/8" hardware cloth (or window screen cloth which is frankly easier to find than the hardware cloth), or can I get away with just the contruction / wax paper sprayed -- I don't want the bees sticking to the bottom, just the mites, of course.

Thank you for feedback.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,749 Posts
In general counting mite drop on the floor is only slightly better then reading tea leaves and dousing

looking at the BIP data for UT backyard beekeepers last 5 years.

those who
Alcohol Wash lose 36.2% of their hives
shugar shake 47.3%
mite drop 47.9
not checking for mites lost 50% or so
 

·
Registered
5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
Joined
·
2,200 Posts
best way to count is to wash 300 bees in a jar. and have a percent so 6 mites would then be 2 percent.
not really understanding the oil on the bottom, you would be counting the mites that loose their grip on a bee and fall, not sure what that data point would be good for.

should be threads here on mite wash , or Utubes on it.

GG
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,304 Posts
From Randy Olivers words there can be quite a wide discrepancy in the significance of natural mite fall and alcohol wash. This was in a recent article on OA/Glycerine contact pads.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thank you for the replies so far. I think (not sure yet -- I am still thinking aloud) that I will try to put some powder sugar on the bees, in between the combs of the TBH, and see if mites fall to the bottom as they clean themselves. I understand that this is not the real/professional/objective way of doing it. I understand that there are other more aggressive ways to control mites, but I am mentally not there yet.

All I was hoping for on this thread was to get an answer, if the bees would get stuck or injured to the bottom of the TBH if they walk on a temporary paper/wax paper/ that had been sprayed with PAM or brushed with a thin layer of organic olive oil. And/or if putting a window screen cloth on top of the oily board would be better for the bees. The ultimate idea is to get the mites that fall (if they do) to stick, but not the bees.

Thank you again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
96 Posts
I don’t think bees would get stuck in Pam spray or similar. But they might ‘clean it up.’ 😂 I understand it’s hard to wrap around counting mites via sugar shake or alcohol wash. It’s not a fun process for bee or keeper. 😖

What drove me to it though was realizing that a higher mite fall (to bottom board) would also be present in bees with really good grooming behavior ( ie mite-biters). Yes, more rarely but possible. In my yard I’m using mite counts to help me figure out who are my best hives (able to keep low mite counts) to make more queens from those lines.

wishing you well with whatever you decide! 👍

ps. Brood breaks via splits have been a cornerstone of being able to avoid chemical treatments so far in my yard (combined with the best genetics I can find)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
184 Posts
I am a first year beekeeper with a solid bottom TBH as you have. I also considered something along the lines of what you described but eventually decided against it. I had a small infestation of SHB and felt that if I laid anything on the floor (i.e. wax paper, corrugated plastic, etc.) I would just be giving SHB a place to hide. SHB may not be a concern in your location, but just another thing to consider.

Veering off your post (wow, that never happens!), my main interest in doing this was to trace the size and progress of the broodnest during the winter months rather than for mite drop data.

Kevin
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
Within this paper from the NC State Extension it gives you direction on the usage of oil spray in detecting varroa mites. Managing Varroa Mites in Honey Bee Colonies | NC State Extension Publications

You do not leave the pam covered board in the hive so the SHB will not be able to hide under it, this is used as a DIY sticky board. I have done this in my Layens hives and I used an oil covered paper and put a mesh screen on top but it needs to be an #8 mesh that the mites will fall thru. I slid it just under the brood area and a few combs out. With the sugar dusting I tracked how many mites fell after 1 hour 2 hours and then 24 hours. Ruthies Bees, who I believe is a member here, uses icing sugar for mite treatments.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,888 Posts
Question: will PAM (or olive oil) harm the bees if they walk on it? Do their legs stick to it, or only the mites? Also, should I put on top of the sprayed/oiled liner a 1/8" hardware cloth (or window screen cloth which is frankly easier to find than the hardware cloth), or can I get away with just the contruction / wax paper sprayed -- I don't want the bees sticking to the bottom, just the mites, of course.

Thank you for feedback.
You do NOT want your bees to walk in the PAM oil or any stick board that you are using to count mites. A greasy bee is a dead bee. You might see if you can retrofit your hive to have a screened floor to keep the bees off of the solid bottom. The bottoms of my TBH's have a screened floor but then a slide in IPM solid board that can be coated with spray or oil for mite counts. I gave up the oil after the first year. What a mess and not a pleasant smell for a beehive. I now put diatomaceous earth on the solid board so when mites fall through, they dessicate in the DE. It doesn't work for counting mites, but the mites can't crawl back up on the bees like they do with a solid bottom hive. (FWIW, solid hive bottoms are banned in my apiary for this single fact).
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,423 Posts
Thank you for the replies so far. I think (not sure yet -- I am still thinking aloud) that I will try to put some powder sugar on the bees, in between the combs of the TBH, and see if mites fall to the bottom as they clean themselves. I understand that this is not the real/professional/objective way of doing it. I understand that there are other more aggressive ways to control mites, but I am mentally not there yet.

All I was hoping for on this thread was to get an answer, if the bees would get stuck or injured to the bottom of the TBH if they walk on a temporary paper/wax paper/ that had been sprayed with PAM or brushed with a thin layer of organic olive oil. And/or if putting a window screen cloth on top of the oily board would be better for the bees. The ultimate idea is to get the mites that fall (if they do) to stick, but not the bees.

Thank you again.
Hi Sylvia, why don’t you do a mite sugar roll, then you will not kill any bees. They are just as accurate as an alcohol wash; I learned this from Randy Oliver and Megan Milbrath at a NY Bee Wellness workshop at Cornell U a few years ago. The trick is to do the roll correctly.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Thank you! All those links are very helpful!

Ruthiesbees: I would not be able to retrofit the TBH (I see your point, though). Question: if I lay a 1/8" hardware cloth immediately on top of the sticky paper (PAM, olive oil, or what be it), is that enough to protect the bees' feet from the grease? Or 2 layers of 1/8" on on top of the other? (I am not sure I can rig that ...).

Cloverdale: Yes, I will try the sugar roll. It sure beats the do-nothing that I have been doing for the last 7 years.

I am thinking of buying a bug powder duster (like the one used for Diatomaceaous Earth) but I will use it only for powdered sugar (not DE), and puff the powdered sugar on the bees' combs during inspections, then do the 24 hour bee mite drop count on the greased paper below. See if when they groom themselves they are dropping mites, and how many.

Ursa Minor: the article is very interesting and helpful, thank you.

Thank you also to the other responders, I appreciate you too, as you are helping me think things through. I know (and respect) that we all have different opinions and methods, and I am trying to find my own new route here. I know that what I had been doing is no longer working for me as a guardian for the bees. I need to change, and I am trying to figure out how to do that best --also in a way that works for my own parameters. I appreciate all the back and forth -- and everyone's experiences and opinions.

I am pretty good at homeopathy (people and pets) and I think I will also try a few homeopathic (not herbal) treatments. As I get closer to that, I will post and report. I realize that all I observe will be simply anecdotal, and I know it's basically impossible to prove a negative (should I not have mites, was it coincidental, or did the homeopathy protect the hive?). More on this much later in the season if and when I try something.

Thank you again, feedback continues to be welcome.

Sylvia
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I just had an idea ... instead of spraying Pam, I think I could use contact paper, with sticky side up. And add one layer of 1/8th" mesh cloth on top of it. Would the bees be able to walk on this type of floor (kept in for 24 hours) without getting stuck themselves to the contact paper (sticky side up)?
 

·
Premium Member
Mutts.
Joined
·
212 Posts
I just had an idea ... instead of spraying Pam, I think I could use contact paper, with sticky side up. And add one layer of 1/8th" mesh cloth on top of it. Would the bees be able to walk on this type of floor (kept in for 24 hours) without getting stuck themselves to the contact paper (sticky side up)?
Something kind of like you describe was once commercially available. Perhaps someone will remember? Bought all remaining beekeeping equipment from an old friend who was active late 90s early 2000s. Including a small stack of these, dried out and no longer useful... Think they are in the box with the queen excluders. Will try to dig them out, look for a brand and take pictures.

Oh, last year would occasionally find dead or dying bees that had got between the screen bottom and the sticky-board. Used cheap generic cooking spray for awhile then switched to Vaseline thinned with mineral oil. Saw no change in mite counts but was not paying attention to bee counts. Pretty sure both will kill bees.
 

·
Registered
Burlington, MA. Langs
Joined
·
625 Posts
Stop... you are over thinking.
Just put a piece of poster board on the bottom board, dust with powdered sugar and let them clean for 1 hour. Take out that paper, curl and put contents into a bowl or what ever.... REPLACE the paper and wait 24 hrs later, repeat 1st step. You can count the mites in the 1st dump. Spread out on a sheet or what ever. Do the same after 24 hrs. Save paper for next time.

Pam/oil will only get gunky from the powder that falls.
The Point of the powder is the mites lose grip and fall, they can't get around while covered in the powder...... so the oil defeats the purpose.

The PS roll is just for counting, the PS dusting is to get them to clean off the mites and for mites to lose grip and fall.
This is my understanding of all of this for those that don't want to use chemicals.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
2,423 Posts
I wonder if by counting the “phoretic” mites that are groomed off the bees you can figure the percentage of mites under the cappings?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Thank you, WB and T19687.

WB, I think you might be referring to what is commercially for sale and called a sticky board (sticky paper and plastic mesh on top). I purchased one, and it's already graphed with 1" squares. It's sized for a Langstroth, and I would need 2 (and a couple of modifications) to cover the bottom board of a TBH. I could do that.

T19687: I have not done this before, so I am speaking only by what I have been reading (and, yes, overthinking is something I have been known to do ...). My understanding is that if/when mites fall, they are able to quickly (I am not sure exactly how "quickly" is defined ...) climb back up into the combs and on the bees, thus the need for sticky paper. Anyone with experience here who could provide more information for me on the timing (if no sticky substance is used)? The idea of a simple white poster board sounds liberating (for me, and no gunk to apply for the bees) if it does capture the mites ...

I just have one TBH in my back yard, so monitoring is pretty simple for me.

Thank you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for the suggestion, Cloverdale. I will see if I can find something to read that would focus on this subject.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
53 Posts
I used a serving tray on my layens that does not have a screened bottom but I, like ruthiesbees, will never build a hive without one again. Put the paper on the tray and tape or bend the wire around the edge, slide the tray under the brood nest area. I suggest you read this section on Scientific Beekeeping about powdered sugar dusting there are 3 sections.
This year I am going to do a monthly treatment and then, if I have a high count, do an increased amount but I have not yet determined how often.

Last year my last dusting was Sept 18 and the mite drop from one hive was very high, so, because they were getting prepared for our winters which come early, I did 3 more days of dusting to get all the mites. I did this based on the information from a contributor to the Scientific Beekeeping site. The premise is that because the mites spend 5-7 days in the phoretic stage before they return to the brood cell you do not need daily dustings, yet, as per the information, a dusting only removes up to 50% of the mites so there are still 50% of the mites present and they are not all at the same stage so if you wait 3 days many could have already returned to the cell to lay and would not be affected by the next dusting. There is some indication that dusting can kill larvae in the cells, but I did my intensive dusting in the fall when brood rearing was slowing down.

Powdered Sugar Dusting - Sweet and Safe, but Does it Really Work? Part 3 - Scientific Beekeeping
 

·
Premium Member
Mutts.
Joined
·
212 Posts
WB, I think you might be referring to what is commercially for sale and called a sticky board (sticky paper and plastic mesh on top). I purchased one, and it's already graphed with 1" squares. It's sized for a Langstroth, and I would need 2 (and a couple of modifications) to cover the bottom board of a TBH. I could do that.
Guess it makes sense both kinds are called 'stick boards' :rolleyes: Found mine, pretty much as you describe. Thin board with a peal off sheet and still a little bit sticky. Plastic mesh is separate. Phero Tech brand which if you search for, now re-directs to Ortho. Have four meshes and about ten sticky boards.

Do you have a slot in the end of your TBH? Can not imagine using them without a way to quickly insert and remove.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
47 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
u_m, I can imagine in my mind what you describe, and I think I can rig something. If I read you correctly, the paper + wire (or sticky board) need not go all the way to the end of the TBH, it's good enough to cover under the brood area (that makes sense, the mites are around and in there, not in the honey combs ...).

WB, yes. My TBH has only one entrance, with a little landing, at only one end of the TBH (the narrow end), at the bottom of the hive -- shall we say, like a horizontal slot at the floor level of the hive, if that makes sense. They just land and walk in, and they are inside their home. Much like a Langstroth entrance. All the other sides of the hive are solid. The entrance is less than 1/2" high and about 8.5" wide. I am not wanting to do an OA vapor treatment, but even if I wanted, that entrance is too shallow in height, and I could not do it anyway. I am trying to find a way to be a better beekeeper than I have been in previous years, but not go with chemicals. It's a major learning curve for me. I appreciate both support and criticism -- they are all food for thought.

I have come to appreciate all the folks on this board, no matter what our differing opinions and strategies might be, because without exception, each with our own methods, we care deeply for our bees and we try to do right by them. I find the various conversations (even the ones I feel I cannot agree with) really instructive and stimulating. I am transitioning from a mostly hands-off approach to something more interventional ...
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Top