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I went to a new bee keepers home today to help reassure them of what they needed to do. This couple had bought a package three years ago and kept it for two years before it crashed. This year they bought two single deep colonies. One was doing great, they pulled a 3 frame split off of it last week. One supercedure cell with an advanced larvae in it. The other colony was dwindling down to about 4 frames of mostly hatched out brood. It did have an empty queen cell but no new eggs yet. Previously they found and marked the queen and they said the paint got all over her. It started to rain so they put the queen back inside and closed up the top. The workers must not have liked the sloppy paint and killed her. There is a good chance that the new queen flew and mated but it's to early for her to start laying eggs (28 days) from marking the queen. I told them to check again next week and see if the queen was laying yet (35 days). This was a very quiet colony so they didn't roar like a queenless hive.

I asked them what their varroa treatment strategy was. They said they didn't have a treatment plan. I suggested they put in Apivar at this time then consider Oxalic Acid for later use. There was also Deformed Wing Virus that affected lots of the new brood.

If you have the chance please consider joining a bee club so you can be exposed to more information to help you start out.
 

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Also TEST TEST TEST. Dollars to donuts that was the demise of the previous colony. You can't know what you got until you test. And yah I agree people need to educate themselves. Putting bees in a box does not make one a beekeeper, just a beehaver.

I'm assuming by "no treatment plan" means no treatment, testing, or IPM was ever done?
 

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What is a good general Varroa Strategy?

OA in the spring and then again in the fall? Test before and after 3 rounds @ 4 day intervals? Apivar somewhere in the middle?

Of course I understand everything is going to be a case by case and location. But just in general.
 

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A good strategy is to talk with sucessful beekeepers in the area, and try what they suggest. Then build on it and modify it untll it works well for you and your bees.

Most good strategies involve some emphasis on late summer and fall impacts on winter bees, and the naturally increasing mite numbers at that time.

It gets pretty flexible from there ...
 

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Totally local, right down to your address. But as a general proposition, you need to ensure that you have healthy bees going into "winter" if you have one. For this discussion, winter doesn't necessarily mean your colony is clustered for months. It is important if egg production significantly decreases and the bees need to live longer.
For me in Vermont, this means I am looking for a stretch of weather below 85 now so I can do a formic treatment. Then I will monitor and likely have to do a OAV series in the fall which I believe is when hives are most vulnerable in my locale. I have read about so many people who get a false sense of security when they do a highly effective summer treatment and their hives start dying out in the spring. I do a "2 shot" oav in the winter, but that is unlikely to save them if they got mite bombed in the fall. Stay vigilant ! J
 

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Jim-
I'm a first year beek along with my 16 year old daughter-2 hives, west, central NJ-just did my first post. Two points-join a club-hard to do now with COVID but I have a friend who's a second year beek and we bumble along together by text and phone. My suppler who has several thousand hives has also been pretty good too, gave me his cell and opens after hours for me cause gotta day job too. We also read as much as possible but sometimes there are opinions and contradictions. For your consideration is my mite plan gleemed from our reading and talks-we added Apitar with the nuc's in late March, with the second brood box in April and removed them when the super went on in May. We have not tested yet but just bought an alcohol test jar and will do so shortly. We do open hive inspections and look at brood, for DFW along with looking for beetles, AFB in brood etc. We've been lucky. We now have full supers, healthy looking bees and are trying to figure out if (and how) to harvest. I ordered some Hopguard III strips which will be put in the during the next inspection including the alcohol wash-that gets me to August-September-what's next? (sorry to hijack if t seem like I did)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Every one has good information and their own ideas as what works for them.
 

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Like Fivej said, it is local down to your address. I don't even think you can generalize a treatment plan for a single zip code. Still too many variables.

I run between 30 and 40 hives basically on the Florida-Alabama line.

In the early spring (February 20 - March 7, roughly), I split all of my hives in a fashion that leaves one hive with a queen and no capped brood and the other with all of the capped brood and a queen cell. The evening of the split, I do a single OAV to the hive with queen and no brood.

https://youtu.be/J0s9utmGbjc

21+ days later, I do a single OAV to the hive where I put all of the capped brood on the day of the split 21 days earlier.

I then do alcohol washes to make sure I had effective kills. If not, I do OAV series until they test below threshold.

I put supers on roughly between March 20 and April 7.

Around July 4, I do my final honey pull for the year. I then insert Apivar strips for 8 weeks.

Usually I am removing the Apivar strips sometime in September. I do alcohol washes to confirm the Apivar was effective. Any outliers get OAV series until they get under threshold.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I do a single OAV on all hives. I will still have a couple of frames of brood during this time, but the brood nest is usually as small as it gets all year.

Start the process over in February.
 

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Does hopguard actually work to reduce mites?
 

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I just spent the afternoon reading a bunch of papers on scientificbeekeeping.com, manufactures (of treatments) and other web sites on methods, materials and treatments. My head hurts and I feel dumber...
 

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Like Fivej said, it is local down to your address. I don't even think you can generalize a treatment plan for a single zip code. Still too many variables.

I run between 30 and 40 hives basically on the Florida-Alabama line.

In the early spring (February 20 - March 7, roughly), I split all of my hives in a fashion that leaves one hive with a queen and no capped brood and the other with all of the capped brood and a queen cell. The evening of the split, I do a single OAV to the hive with queen and no brood.

https://youtu.be/J0s9utmGbjc

21+ days later, I do a single OAV to the hive where I put all of the capped brood on the day of the split 21 days earlier.

I then do alcohol washes to make sure I had effective kills. If not, I do OAV series until they test below threshold.

I put supers on roughly between March 20 and April 7.

Around July 4, I do my final honey pull for the year. I then insert Apivar strips for 8 weeks.

Usually I am removing the Apivar strips sometime in September. I do alcohol washes to confirm the Apivar was effective. Any outliers get OAV series until they get under threshold.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I do a single OAV on all hives. I will still have a couple of frames of brood during this time, but the brood nest is usually as small as it gets all year.

Start the process over in February.
I really like the sound of what you do. I'm in North Alabama and have a couple of questions for you if you are willing to share.
1) Who gets the foragers when you split?
2) Why do you wait 21 days to OAV the capped brood portion of the split? Why 21?

Thanks again
 

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I suggest you look up Tom Seeley's article on horizontal spreading ( think he posted an article in the ABJ), especially in the Fall when robbing begins. For me and my yearly sequence, OAV between Christmas and Jan 15th (maybe twice if dead drop is above 10), followed by drone brood monitoring (open capped drones and look for foundress and baby mites plus male about July then in mid-August, followed by an OAV in mid-Sept as a monitoring test. When my numbers start to go up (and they will) I treat every 4-6 days until the dead drop count falls below 50 then once more. I go into December with counts around 0 to 10. I do not do alcohol wash testing - it's a lagging indicator, inaccurate and very sensitive to errors, takes too much time and kills bees and queens - I cannot "see" queens it seems.

You should have started with a treated package or clean hive. ApiVar (amitraz) has been shown to be effective in the Spring much more so than Formic acid and Oxalic acid. I have nto used it, ApiVar. My numbers are low in Jan. then my hives explode with brood starting in March and I do nto see Varroa until near the end of Fall flow. Then all hell breaks loose, even when inspections detect very little Varroa in drone brood or sample OAV test - "horizontal spreading" with strong hives leading the way by robbing somewhere. You likely have similar sequence but a bit later than my location but not by much. Best of Luck - it is not easy to adopt a plan with confidence.
 

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I really like the sound of what you do. I'm in North Alabama and have a couple of questions for you if you are willing to share.
1) Who gets the foragers when you split?
2) Why do you wait 21 days to OAV the capped brood portion of the split? Why 21?

Thanks again
Easy answers.
1. The foragers all return to the parent colony, or at least most of them do.
2. Waiting 21 days assures that any worker eggs that were laid by the split out queen have now emerged. The new queen will not start laying until about day 28 -35, so with the possible exception of a few drone cells, the hive is totally broodless during this one week period and the OAV is most effective.
 

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Make more queens than you need and try to get treatment free. I went from 3 packages last year to 2 hives to 5 hives. I'm not testing yet. I treat them all because they have package genes. I should have treated packages before installing. Last year I did 3 summer + fall treatment rounds starting when I saw a few DWV bees. When I treat, a round is 5 OAV treatments 5 days apart except for the winter solstice broodless round which is 2 OAV 1 day apart.

I finished a treatment round this week (the first treatments this year). <15 mites fell per hive (not accurate). I split 1 hive the day after treatment 3. I skipped the last 2 treatments on the broodless half (with the original queen and location). I would have skipped this round and only done 1 fall round, but I'm preparing to have 2 treatment free hives. Next week the 2 treatment free queens I bought arrive. I'm not going to treat their hives until I asses them next year. I'm going to put excluders on the bad hives next year so the drones can't mate when I'm mating queens.

My rules:
1. Treated hives must get treatment free queens.
2. A treated hive must get a winter round (unless it gets a treatment free queen).
3. minimal treatments
4. Try to kill all mites in a treatment round.
5. I apply OAV below the bottom screen, and I must see it come out the top entrance.
 

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Easy answers.
1. The foragers all return to the parent colony, or at least most of them do.
2. Waiting 21 days assures that any worker eggs that were laid by the split out queen have now emerged. The new queen will not start laying until about day 28 -35, so with the possible exception of a few drone cells, the hive is totally broodless during this one week period and the OAV is most effective.
JW is correct. The queen is returned to a new box in the original position of the colony and all of the foragers return to the hive with the queen. I linked a video above I made doing this procedure.
 

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2. Waiting 21 days assures that any worker eggs that were laid by the split out queen have now emerged. The new queen will not start laying until about day 28 -35,
He says he is placing cells. This year I only had one mating nuc that didn't have eggs from a laying queen 2 weeks (14 days) after setting in the cell. I would expect capped brood by day 22 or 23. 21 days is enough to allow all of the worker eggs from prior queen to emerge, and in most cases there will be no capped brood yet from the new queen, but there should be a lot of open brood ranging from egg to ready for capping.
 
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