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Hello, we are brand new to beekeeping and very much in the learning phase. We are located just outside Savannah, Georgia.

So, we installed a 3 # package of Italians 15 days ago. We have larvae, some capped brood and a significant amount of nectar. This morning I went out to top off the hive top feeder and checked the mite board and saw about 5 varroa mites. Should I be concerned about this? My understanding is that the mite reproduces with the brood. Will I see a spike in mite population as my brood hatches out? I have a feeling of doom and gloom- I see failure in my future. Am I overreacting?

I am assuming this infestation came with the package, am I correct? We bought from a middle man. Should we contact him and/or the originator? I bet they just laugh at me and tell me to treat...

We are planning to be chemical free. Unfortunately, my husband had some beekeeping experience from his childhood and we started the hive doing what he knew. Once I became more interested (post-installation), I learned about foundationless and small cell! I have convinced my husband that this would be in our best interest but we started with foundation. My plan is to remove the foundation from all nondrawn out frames and install starter strips. Once we have a significant amount of drawn out frames (over the next year or so) I plan to remove and replace frames one at a time. Slowly but surely, right?!

Jeanine
 

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Welcome to Beesource!

I think its fair to say that all bee colonies have varroa mites - the only question is how many.

Varroa do reproduce inside the bee brood cell.

If you want to be foundationless, don't wait to remove the foundation. Package bees will be happy to build comb with no foundation, but you might get straighter comb with a starter strip of foundation or other comb guide. More on that here:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm
 

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Before you jump to conclusions, small cell or foundationless hasn't really been proven to be effective for controlling varroa. Has it worked for some.... yes, has it worked for a lot of other people.... no.
 

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The best thing I learned my first year was "calm down". I thought everything that happened was a disaster.....my bees are in their third year and still alive.....despite my over reactions the first year. Bees are pretty smart and do well with little human intervention. Watch those bees and learn from them. Good luck your first year!!
 

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I don't think you're over reacting but I would keep an eye on things. Keeping a count over a period of time is beneficial. You don't need to be looking every day but putting together some metrics as your colony gets going will help a lot.
 

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I rember when the varroa mites got here, I had 70 stands of bees in the small community where I lived, in the mountains not far below the blue ridge parkway, it was early july and the sourwood was just geeting to blooming good, but my bees kept getting weaker and weaker, I knew something was wrong but could not figure out what. I called the bee inspector and told him what was happing and that I wanted him to come look at my bees. he told me on the phone he didn't have to see them, that I had varroa mites and that I needed to get some apstan strips and treat them. I did and managed to save 20 out of the 70. I was the only person with any bees alive any where that I knew of for a long time. now days we have got used to dealing with varroa, and I don't consider them a big deal any longer. I treat some of mine some I don't it just depends on how bad they get. only keep about 50 hives any more and lose about 10 percent a year, seems like the biggest and strongest die treat or don't treat have a great day
 
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