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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! Newbee here. I have a hive in FL. I haven't seen any problems with it yet, but am trying to stay on top of things. Every inspection I make sure to study and take pictures of the brood to make sure everything's going Ok and I keep my eye out for Small Hive Beetles, too.

But I was wondering, what else should I be doing and how often? I have a removable bottom board that's gridded to count if there are mites, and I did that once already (no mites). But how often should I do that? Once a month? Once a season? Only during certain times of the year?

I've also heard of small beetle traps. Is that a thing I should have installed even though I don't currently seem to have a problem?

I see lots of resources saying how to use pest control items, but none really say WHEN to use them!

Any advice on early prevention or safeguards I should have in place would be appreciated! Thanks, guys.
 

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You should assume that there are varroa mites in your hives, whether or not you see the mites. Varroa are the most serious problem that plague hives in North America.

I'd suggest, at a minimum, coat the count board with something sticky and leave that board in place all the time. Periodically check to see that the sticky substance is still sticky. Your hive will still have mites, but you may reduce the level somewhat.

If you want to get a better way of sampling mites, say per bee, a sugar roll or alcohol wash are generally considered to be good methods.

More info on a sugar roll: https://beeinformed.org/2013/03/19/how-to-make-a-sugar-roll-jar/
More on an alcohol wash: http://scientificbeekeeping.com/an-improved-but-not-yet-perfect-varroa-mite-washer/
 

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Rader makes good points here. I would add that any monitoring should be done in a structured manner. For example, if you're monitoring mites, then sample on a set frequency and pay attention to ALL the results. It's the trend that you want to watch, not necessarily a single data point.
 

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I disagree with leaving the sticky board in all the time. It will end up covered with all sorts of dropped pollen, bee parts and gunk and make it very difficult to identify mites and draw any conclusions.

I leave the board out except when I'm testing (3-4 times from spring til fall). Then I put in the sticky board for 24 (or 48) hours and do a mite count.

I do agree with Radar on learning to do a sugar roll or alcohol wash, as those tests are much more accurate.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for the advice, guys, it's very helpful.

Re: bottom board. I live in FL and it's been pretty hot. My bees have been bearding, so I made the choice to leave it out for ventilation. While it was in, I actually thought it was kind of fun to periodically pull it out and then look at all the gunk that got dropped on it, before washing it off and sliding it back in. But now that I'm leaving it out, it's harder to know how to keep an eye on that sort of thing. Anyway, I'll use it every few weeks and maybe do the sugar roll thing once every other month or so. Does that sound good?

Ravenseye, thanks for your point about monitoring for trends rather than data points, I'll make sure to keep that in mind. :)

Any advice about small hive beetles or other pests? I know varroa mites are the big ones to worry about, but want to make sure I've got all my bases covered.
 

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I realize that this is not a universally held opinion,:p but open screened bottoms impede the bees' ability to cool the brood area on hot days. See this thread for more on that:
http://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...perature-control-with-Open-Mesh-Bottom-Boards

No matter how much 'ventilation' a hive has, that air flowing through is never going to be below the ambient air temperature. But with more limited ventilation controlled by the bees own decisions/efforts, and the water that they haul in and distribute, the brood area can be cooled below the ambient air temperature with evaporative cooling.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I realize that this is not a universally held opinion,:p but open screened bottoms impede the bees' ability to cool the brood area on hot days. See this thread for more on that:
http://www.beesource.com/forums/sho...perature-control-with-Open-Mesh-Bottom-Boards

No matter how much 'ventilation' a hive has, that air flowing through is never going to be below the ambient air temperature. But with more limited ventilation controlled by the bees own decisions/efforts, and the water that they haul in and distribute, the brood area can be cooled below the ambient air temperature with evaporative cooling.

Thanks! I've done so much reading here about how to use the screened bottom board insert and so far the only conclusion I've been able to draw is that nobody agrees with anybody else! I'll keep researching the issue and will keep your points in mind.
 

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You have a good state apiary section in Florida, they will be able to help you as to the best treatment times, and the products that seem to work well in Florida.

Here in Arkansas the best time for doing scheduled treatments is in August, before the colony starts to raise it's winter bees. Varroa numbers that kill colonies will vary with the particular colonies, some colonies are able to stand more mites than others. I check the first week in each month, doing a 72 hour mite fall count to get a 24 hour average. When the 24 hour average drop is more than I think my bees can stand I treat, then continue to check each month.

As for ventilation in the hive, if you have two colonies try one bottom board closed and the other open and decide for yourself which works best. It will not take you long to decide.
 

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Small hive beetles are a big problem in the deep south so focus on that first. Some people say that swiffer dry pads that are unscented catch the shb. Their feet are like little hooks and get caught in the microfibers. When I asked my club gurus about shb someone muttered "keep em strong" and it took me a year to figure out what that means. It means if you have the proper bee density that the bees manage the SHB. Florida? Not so sure.

Mites? I don't mess with testing and monitoring unless I see deformed bees that can't fly crawling around in the yard. (crawlers).
How to check how many there are is documented here already. I do sugar shakes in July. Last year I found that about half my hives needed treating and half were too weak to treat. I'm using MAQ's. It works but they are risky in that you have to have just the right weather.

I'm in Illinois so maybe you should talk to some local people and beware...there is no consensus. Just do what feels comfortable to you is what ppl keep telling me when I ask "treatment questions". Nobody wants to get blamed when it don't go well.

I'm sorry that there is no beekeeper with absolute answers. This is due to the fact that we're world-wide and in different climates. Even in local situations there is no consensus. It's very frustrating but if you persist good things happen.
First year colonies that are well-fed and cared for tend to survive well. Second year is when you see crashes is what I've been hearing.
Good luck and happy bees!
 
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