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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a first year beek with 2 hives that I'm trying to get established. I've had some shb in both hives, and had installed some beetle blaster traps last week that seem to be doing a good job trapping the little buggers.

Inspecting the hives yesterday, I saw one varroa mite on the back of a worker. Coincidentally I had just made a batch of grease patties with lemongrass and spearmint oils the day before and I placed a patty in each hive when doing the inspection.

I realize that pests are part of beekeeping, and one mite is probably not the end of the world, but I was wondering to what extent I should or should not freak out at this point.

I was also planning on making some track strips in the entrances, using beeswax, canola oil and spearmint oil to help kill the mites as the bees enter the hive.

Let me know what you think.

Thanks.
 

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I found some on drone larva and panicked but then I put a sticky bottom board to see how many there were and my numbers were way below the threshold to treat so it worked out fine! I am far from an expert and I cringe at even calling myself a beekeeper but I'd put a sticky board to see how many there are.
 

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Alcohol wash or an ether roll are the most accurate, but killing 300 bees is likely heartbreaking for a new beek. That's likely to make someone suspecting a low count hesitate.

A sugar roll will aggravate the victims, but they'll clean up OK. The count will be somewhat lower than the research-grade fatal methods, but works well enough for most of us.

Seeing a mite on a bee is pretty rare ... they're good at hiding. Seeing them on an IPM board or oil tray under a SBB is all too common. Using a natural mite drop may not be a great count, but it can tell you when to do a roll or wash.
 

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I did a sticky board for 3 days and found 7 mites. Should I also do the sugar roll?
Alcohol wash or an ether roll are the most accurate, but killing 300 bees is likely heartbreaking for a new beek. That's likely to make someone suspecting a low count hesitate.

A sugar roll will aggravate the victims, but they'll clean up OK. The count will be somewhat lower than the research-grade fatal methods, but works well enough for most of us.

Seeing a mite on a bee is pretty rare ... they're good at hiding. Seeing them on an IPM board or oil tray under a SBB is all too common. Using a natural mite drop may not be a great count, but it can tell you when to do a roll or wash.
 

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>I realize that pests are part of beekeeping, and one mite is probably not the end of the world, but I was wondering to what extent I should or should not freak out at this point.

You now know what you should have already know. Your bees have Varroa mites. If you wish to quantify the problem rather than worry about the unknown number, then do a mite count. There are several methods and I would do more than one. A sugar roll, a natural mite drop and uncapping some drone pupae are all helpful at getting numbers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you all for your comments. I do have a couple of questions:

1 - with regards to the drop count: I have a screened bottom board in place on both hives, but no bottom board at the present time. One hive's bees love to hang out on the bottom side of the screen - other than brushing them off the screen is there a better way to get them off before placing the oiled drop board in place?

2 - Michael - you said that I now know what I already should have known - what should I have been looking for to have identified the problem earlier?

The only preventative step I was taking was to feed them 1:1 syrup with lemongrass and wintergreen oils. Both hives now have a single grease patty each on top of the brood frames carrying lemongrass and spearmint oils, and I'm working on some tracking strips for the hive entrances with the oils as well.

Thanks again everyone. I appreciate your input.
 

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>2 - Michael - you said that I now know what I already should have known - what should I have been looking for to have identified the problem earlier?

You live in North America, therefore you have Varroa mites. That's what you should have known. Now you know.
 

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grease patties are useless for varroa, only good for tracheal mites - which are seldom a problem anymore. Those oils have not been proven to retard varroa growth and will definitely not rid the hive of mites. Too much of those oils and you'll really screw up and possibly kill the hive. If you're going to treat, use something that works.
 
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