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Hey Everybody!

I am starting my first colonies this year and have done a ton of reading, youtubing and even attended a course at Temple to prepare for this. I feel 1000% prepared to install my package bees and roll with this. I have ONE question though..... Everywhere you read or watch it says to spray the bees with sugar water before you install the package. In speaking with the beemaster that conducted the course he said I have a 100% chance of some hitchhiking Varroa mites being in my package. Sooooo would it be a bad thing (and why) to just dust the crap out of them with powdered sugar instead of hosing them down with sugar water? It seems to be a very effective method (again from reading and youtube) of mite removal but not something you want to overdue once the comb is drawn and brood has started. So what better time to do it than at the very beginning? I know this won't get 100% of the little beasties but i don't want to start this show with an infestation. They (the bees) won't leave because the queen is there (correct?) and they can still use the sugar (yes, no, maybe?). They may be a little more mobile which would increase the chance of a sting or two I guess but if it works it is well worth it.

Thoughts? (if this is a repeat post i apologize)

Thanks!!

Rich
 

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the spraying of sugar water is to calm them down, dusting with powdered sugar will surely do the opposite,, and possibly increasing the possibility of them not liking their new home and absconding,,

you are NOT treating for varroa now,, besides you have a break in the varroa cycle naturally with a package.

If it were me, I would install as taught, and when they have a good brood pattern, check for varroa with an alcohol wash,, and treat accordingly,,

but then again,, they are YOUR bees,, do as you wish
 

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I always lightly spray the screening of the package when I first get it. The bees appear to EAT that spray off the screening if the feed can is empty or nearly so. Then I let them rest and install the package late in the day. I do this by removing the feed can and the queen cage, closing that hole back up and dusting the bees with powdered sugar. I wait 5-10 minutes and then install the package in the usual fashion. Then I dump that used powdered sugar in the trash and any mites along with it.

HTH

Rusty
 

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I wish I was 1000% certain and had only one question!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for your replies! I have this posted on a couple of other forums and it seems the "ask two beekeepers a question and you will get ten answers" is true!
 

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For sugar dusting to work, all of the varroa must be on the adult bees. When you have a package or a swarm this is exactly the situation you have. You can put the package in the bathtub, dust, and then rinse the residue down the drain. If you put the bees in the hive before you dust, then you need to have very young unsealed brood present to help hold the package/swarm, a clipped Queen, or you need an excluder between the bottom board and the hive body. Usually the package/swarm will accept a dusting without leaving, but better safe than sorry.

Several dustings help remove most of the varroa, I would do a total of three. Remember that the mites enter the cell on day 8 after the egg is laid, so you must have the dustings completed before then. If you sacrifice the frame of brood that you first put in the new hive you will be sure of removing all of the mites.
 

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>Everywhere you read or watch it says to spray the bees with sugar water before you install the package.

Apparently you haven't read my page on it... I would recommend you not spray them with sugar water...

> In speaking with the beemaster that conducted the course he said I have a 100% chance of some hitchhiking Varroa mites being in my package. Sooooo would it be a bad thing (and why) to just dust the crap out of them with powdered sugar instead of hosing them down with sugar water?

If you give them time to calm down after it probably won't hurt. I wouldn't bother. Definitely don't do both or you'll have a sticky mess.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Actually, I did read your post. Rader Sidetrack posted the link a little further up. It was very informative but not really the question I was asking. It was never my intention to do both. I am more interested in the Varroa aspect of my question. I understand I will most likely (99.999999999999999%) end up with a Varroa problem. But if I can slow it down or kick it in the balls before it gets started......... That is more my goal/thoughts. I've gotten "this is a second year problem" "your bees will abscond" "powdered sugar doesn't work" etc etc etc. SO I guess a better way to ask would be this........ IF powder sugar works why not do it immediately??? Apparently you have to be more careful after the bees start laying brood so it doesn't get in the cells and it is a pain to get all of the bees properly coated etc. So why not do it when you have them all in one nicely contained package??? Will the bees abscond? I would think that since the queen is there they would not (my bees are coming from CA to PA so they will have been with her for a couple of days already). Will the powdered sugar cause them undo stress after a long trip in a box? I have heard about the corn starch (I have also heard that that amount is so little it really doesn't matter). How long until the mites fall off? Is it instant? (Yes, i have screened bottom boards). So without going on and on (anymore than I already have :) ) That is basically what I am asking. I am leaning heavily towards dusting the packages before I install my bees but i want to know if there is a stone cold reason why i shouldn't. Or if it is an absolute waste of time.

Thanks!

:)
 

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Hi Richie,

I'm pretty much in the same boat you are (and agonizing over the same decision), if you want an in depth analysis of sugar dusting, visit www.scientificbeekeeping.com, Randy Oliver has some pretty in-depth analysis of the usefulness of the technique. With that being said, he suggests near the end of one that "it might be useful to clean up packages", but all his data is on established hives. On the other side of the aisle, the guy who taught my class was adamantly opposed to using powdered sugar (though, I'm a scientist, so I'll take hard data over anecdotes). I've decided to go with a compromise, myself, and do a dusting AFTER I see the queen released and laying brood. The bees have to decide that they are in their home first, or from what I've heard (anecdotally), they can decide to take off on you. I'm only starting with a single hive, so I really don't want to have to wait another three weeks to get a replacement package - but I do want to try and start off with very low varroa levels. This is the decision I've come to, I can let you know how it works in 2 weeks.
 

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Welcome to Beesource and to keeping bees Richie. Your energy and enthusiasm will get you far.

I could be reading you wrong but you seem to think that if you can do away with the mites in the package then you’ll be fine from there on out. Unfortunately, you don’t ever get rid of mites. Even if you could eliminate every single mite from the package and install them in a mite free hive, it will only be a matter of time before you have mites. Your bees will pick up mites from a number of sources and bring them back to the hive where they will attempt to grow their population.

You manage mites at a level that is tolerable for your hive to remain healthy. A few times a year (every year) you need to determine the number of mites in the hive. There are a number of ways to do this. Then you need to respond with a strategy that fits into your management philosophy. There are a number of ways to do that.

It was an unpleasant awakening to me last year when I realized that I am not just keeping bees but I am also helping them defend against at least 2 or 3 different pests that could easily kill off my hives. I considered quitting beekeeping. But I couldn’t. We are after all managing livestock. Livestock that has a pretty big impact besides giving us a little honey every year.
 

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You can put the package in the bathtub, dust, and then rinse the residue down the drain
Hi AR.. I assume you dust through the side screen, shake to loosen mites, and then shake out the residue through the side screen. I know Varrora are small but will they come out through the window screen easily?
 

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If the shipping cage is made with the usual 7 mesh screen they will pass through. If the cage is made with regular window screen they will not. I have not seen a shipping cage in years, but the ones made 20 years ago were 7 mesh.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I don't have even the slightest doubt in my mind that my bees will end up with mites. BUT why not at least start my team out with a bit of a head start is more what I am thinking. At the end of the day it is relatively simple.... Spray the bees and install, dust the bees and install or do nothing and install. Personally, I want to take the queens out, recover the hole on the package, dust, shake and install. I understand this will not remove 100% of the mites but hopefully enough that it takes them a while to recoup. I feel like I did this thread "Jeopardy" style. Long explanation at the beginning..... short question at the end!!! :D
 
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