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Drone raising and Varroa

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wilderness 

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I wanted to increase the chances that my virgins mated with drones from a colony that is really nice to handle, so allowed several brood cycles of drones to be reared in it.

The first pack of Apiguard in this colony killed thousands of varroa with a similar amount with the second pack. I've got a fair number of bees with DWV and there are still varroa mites running around so 3rd pack of Apiguard went on yesterday.

How do you raise a large number of drones from a single colony but keep your varroa numbers down?
 
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I've had this problem and the only solution I can think of is the obvious one of starting first with a colony with very low varroa counts and then treating early in the year. A shook swarm followed a few days later by oxalic acid in late March early April would create the low count colony but unfortunately I think this would be too late if drones were needed early in the year. I have used formic acid in the spring and it seemed to work well. As it is supposed to kill mites in sealed brood this may be the solution for drone production.

My experience was the mite problem came after the May queen rearing as the drone production produced a lot of mites which because I did not treat at that time went on to build their numbers up strongly.

I think you also need to start with a colony in good health and if it had a lot of DWV the previous year this would not be my choice for drone production the next season.

My solution would thus be to avoid a shook swarm for the drone rearing colony but select a colony in good health and low varroa numbers but still treat them with formic acid. Twenty or 30 mls of 60% solution dribbled on a bit of cardboard on top of the brood frames repeated after 4 and 8 days will kill a lot of mites, even in the cool of the spring - although I do use poly hives so results in a wooden hive may be less dependable. Thymol could also be used. I would also treat again at the end of queen rearing. Clearly honey could not be taken from these hives for sale but it could be used in the new nucs, especially if you have the same size frames throughout your hives.
 
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Hivemaker. 

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Perhaps its a geographic thing.....i have used a lot of colonys for drone rearing and still hardly any mites.
Not a good idea to use formic acid on drone rearing colonys in spring.
 

wilderness 

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the colony was very strong last year with little varroa and no DWV. Treated with Apiguard last autumn and Oxalic acid in January so should have had minimum varroa.

Varroa drop through this summer was monitored and was low. I first saw DWV on some walking bees about 6 weeks ago but didn't know which hive they had come from.
 

beebreeder 

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Surely the best is to keep mite levels as low as possible in all colonies as drones are very prone to drifting taking any passengers so raising the mite count in other colonies, like HM I have raised drones in lots of colonies at different locations and not culled any drones this season.
kev
 

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