Varroa Destructor – Hive Update 9/15

September 15, 2018 – Last night, both figuratively and literally, I was reminded that I’m a beginning beekeeper.

I headed to Nature’s Nectar last night in hopes of buying 100 new frames to capture the last of the honey flow this year, as well as be ready for next year in the spring. I had seen some varroa mites (varroa destructor) on some of my drones, but I hadn’t seen many and I was queenless for two full months (the mites reproduce in with the baby bees (brood); no brood, no mites). I thought it might be a good idea to get some Mite Away Quick Strips in case it got out of control.

As I entered the store, I explained to Jim what kind of frames I was looking for. I wanted to try wedge top frames to I could try going without using foundation (cheaper, and it would allow me to cut the comb out to sell as honey comb). He let me know he not only didn’t have 100 in stock, but his thirty years of beekeeping experience recommended I don’t go foundationless. I tried to explain my plan for capturing the final honey flow, to which he let me know the flow has been over and the bees won’t be doing any more honey making unless I feed them. I then learned I should be feeding them 2 to 1 syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water), my plan to treat the mites wasn’t going to work, and all of the people I watch on YouTube aren’t worth listening to. I also needed to take five frames of honey from my established colony, give it to my nuc and replace the frames with my new ones. A valuable lesson.

I walked out with five groove top frames with foundation and a two pack of mite away quick strips. I had a lot of work to do.

This morning I awoke weary of testing my bees for mites. The University of Minnesota bee squad has a great video explaining it here.

After watching that, I got all the supplies and headed outside.

First task was finding a frame that had one and capped brood. The top was mainly honey with a little leftover brood, so I headed to the second box. I found a nice frame and decided to try it out. Unfortunately my wife was out getting a strep test, or I would have had her video the chaos that ensued. This is what I got.

They weren’t too happy. I put them in the jar, covered it with powered sugar and waited.

After shaking them for a minute and adding water, I had this.

It’s kinda hard to see, but 20 mites. I had a little more than a half cup of bees, so my mite load would be about 7 mites per 100 bees. Time to try my MAQS!

I also moved over to my nuc four heavy frames of nectar and honey while replacing them with five brand new frames.

Daytime temps should be between 50-85 degrees for the strips to work best, so I’ll have to do that tomorrow night or Monday. That’ll be my next update!

Did you know: Mite Away Quick Strips and some other mite treatments are organic and won’t harm the honey? The strips are formic acid which naturally occurs in honey and is not lithophilic, meaning it won’t linger in the comb or honey.

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