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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After some of the afternoon orientation flights, I've started seeing some of the young bees that aren't able to fly and end up in the grass in front of the hives. Is there a certain percentage that just don't fly? I see about 15 or so per hive when an orientation flight concludes. I don't recall seeing this earlier in the year.

I think my mite numbers are pretty good. I'm in the middle of doing an OAV treatment cycle, 1 treatment every 5 days for a total of 3 treatments. This is being done more as a precaution. Previous OAV treatments done this summer have had drop counts < 20 over a 48 hour period. I sent a sample of the bees to the Beltsville lab but probably won't hear back for several more days.

The hive populations is strong. Queens are still laying plenty of eggs and there is a lot of brood at various stages.

I had a similar problem last year at about the same time and ended up losing a hive. I assumed it was due to varroa mites because I had seen some bees with deformed wings and I wasn't treating for mites. I don't really think of tracheal mites as still being a big problem, especially this time of year.

I would appreciate any thoughts or input on this situation and what, if anything I should do about it.
 

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>I've started seeing some of the young bees that aren't able to fly and end up in the grass in front of the hives.
When you see bee in the grass that can fly It could be from viruses due to mites. Pesticides can also cause this.

>I think my mite numbers are pretty good. I'm in the middle of doing an OAV treatment cycle
Bees damaged by viruses were most likely infected while they were developing and before hatching, from a mite that entered the cell before it was capped. The bees you are seeing were laid about 4 weeks ago.

>I sent a sample of the bees to the Beltsville lab but probably won't hear back for several more days.
They don't check for viruses or pesicides, if you send a sample of bees they will give you a mite and nosema count. It take a week to 10 days.

>I had a similar problem last year at about the same time and ended up losing a hive. I assumed it was due to varroa mites because I had seen some bees with deformed wings and I wasn't treating for mites.
That sound like mites, mite load increase in late summer and fall, DWV is a sign of high mite loads.

Did you get your bees from the same place as last year?

>I would appreciate any thoughts or input on this situation and what, if anything I should do about it.
Make swarm traps (take swarm calls) and catch some ferial bees in your area. You won't be sorry.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
>I've started seeing some of the young bees that aren't able to fly and end up in the grass in front of the hives.
When you see bee in the grass that can fly It could be from viruses due to mites. Pesticides can also cause this.

>I think my mite numbers are pretty good. I'm in the middle of doing an OAV treatment cycle
Bees damaged by viruses were most likely infected while they were developing and before hatching, from a mite that entered the cell before it was capped. The bees you are seeing were laid about 4 weeks ago.

>I sent a sample of the bees to the Beltsville lab but probably won't hear back for several more days.
They don't check for viruses or pesicides, if you send a sample of bees they will give you a mite and nosema count. It take a week to 10 days.

>I had a similar problem last year at about the same time and ended up losing a hive. I assumed it was due to varroa mites because I had seen some bees with deformed wings and I wasn't treating for mites.
That sound like mites, mite load increase in late summer and fall, DWV is a sign of high mite loads.

Did you get your bees from the same place as last year?

>I would appreciate any thoughts or input on this situation and what, if anything I should do about it.
Make swarm traps (take swarm calls) and catch some ferial bees in your area. You won't be sorry.
Really appreciate the response FlowerPower. Those are all good points. To answer your question, some of the bees came from the same source I got last years bees from. Some of them did not. The ones from last year's source seem more affected by the problem. I'm starting to think there is a genetic component to this.

I've done about three OAV treatments so far this year. I watched the drop counts each time and they were always < 20 and sometimes < 10 after 48 hours. I used a tray filled with water to catch the falling mites. Based on that I think they counts are very low.

I think your idea for catching swarms makes sense. Are you mentioning this from an angle of having increasing the amount of local feral genetics in my apiary?
 

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Do you mean that you have done three series of four treatments, each about five days apart? Or a single series of three treatments five days apart? Or a total of three spearate treatments spaced randomly more than five days apart?

I ask because when you have brood, the current folk-standard is four treatements spaced five days apart to get the mites as they cycle in and out of the capped brood. Because OAV does nothing to the mites under the cappings, which is 60% of the total mites in the hive.

Single treatments, without being part of the series are doing nothing more than annoying the mites. And from my experience the largest drop of treatment-caused dead mites occurs in the period from 72-96 hours afterward. What's visible in the first two days is very disappointing if you were hoping for a large kill. And it's deceptive from the point of view of being falsely reassuring that you've got them under control.

I have no experience counting mites in a tray of water, and suggest you use a white sheet of plastic coated with a little oil the next time you treat and leave it in place for four days, and then count your results. (Even a white garbage bag wrapped tightly around a sheet of cardbard would work for this short-term test - as long as the bees -and ants - can't get to it before you have a chance to read the drop numbers.)

I'd do a sugar roll and get some up to date mite numbers, and if they are more than 2%, immediately start a series of four OAV, each five days apart. Then sugar roll a feww eeks later to confirm results. In your area it's probably too hot to safely treat with MAQS (MIteAway Quick Strips, active ingredient formic acid) but if you can see a week with temps back down in the high 70s you might consider that as it will kill mites under the cappings. There are some reported issues with queen/brood loss using the two-strip dosing of MAQS, but I have used it without problems (both two- and one-strip dosing), but always when the temps were no higher than 78-79F in the first three days. Temps - and wide-open ventilation- particularly during the inital three or four days are absolutely critical in my mind. MAQS also treats for tracheal mites which can also be the cause of crawlers.

Enj.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Do you mean that you have done three series of four treatments, each about five days apart? Or a single series of three treatments five days apart? Or a total of three spearate treatments spaced randomly more than five days apart?

I ask because when you have brood, the current folk-standard is four treatements spaced five days apart to get the mites as they cycle in and out of the capped brood. Because OAV does nothing to the mites under the cappings, which is 60% of the total mites in the hive.

Single treatments, without being part of the series are doing nothing more than annoying the mites. And from my experience the largest drop of treatment-caused dead mites occurs in the period from 72-96 hours afterward. What's visible in the first two days is very disappointing if you were hoping for a large kill. And it's deceptive from the point of view of being falsely reassuring that you've got them under control.

I have no experience counting mites in a tray of water, and suggest you use a white sheet of plastic coated with a little oil the next time you treat and leave it in place for four days, and then count your results. (Even a white garbage bag wrapped tightly around a sheet of cardbard would work for this short-term test - as long as the bees -and ants - can't get to it before you have a chance to read the drop numbers.)

I'd do a sugar roll and get some up to date mite numbers, and if they are more than 2%, immediately start a series of four OAV, each five days apart. Then sugar roll a feww eeks later to confirm results. In your area it's probably too hot to safely treat with MAQS (MIteAway Quick Strips, active ingredient formic acid) but if you can see a week with temps back down in the high 70s you might consider that as it will kill mites under the cappings. There are some reported issues with queen/brood loss using the two-strip dosing of MAQS, but I have used it without problems (both two- and one-strip dosing), but always when the temps were no higher than 78-79F in the first three days. Temps - and wide-open ventilation- particularly during the inital three or four days are absolutely critical in my mind. MAQS also treats for tracheal mites which can also be the cause of crawlers.

Enj.
I appreciate the reply Enj. Sorry for the confusion about the treatment schedule. To clarify, I did an OAV treatment on all hives on 7/14 and another one on 7/19. I plan to do one on 7/24. Based on what you're saying about 4 treatments vs. 3, I will do a final one on 7/29.

I am aware that formic acid will kill mites under capping (and also that OAV does not). Unfortunately we don't have the right temperatures in Tennessee to be able to use it. I'll plan on completing my OAV treatments and see where things stand at that point.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Just to close the loop here and hopefully help someone else out, I recently completed four OAV treatments, each treatment five days apart. The problem now appears to be resolved - there aren't any more bees on the ground that can't fly (aside from the normal few that you always see around the hives). The population per hive seems to be high as well. Thanks for the advice everyone!

I plan to start keeping tabs on the mites much earlier in the year next year.
 
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