Fighting Varroa

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Erichalfbee 

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Thanks - do you think I could just treat using OA twice a year or should I use Apiguard as the other treatment
It’s what I do_OAV twice a year
 

ericbeaumont 

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Is it always this difficult to kill the little b____rs
Not really, but you've done well to get to grips with the problem.

discover why your existing colonies have such a propensity for collecting varroa mites
What I have noticed is that some colonies - even apiaries - thrive with minimal treatments yet others have regular heavy varroa loads.

This was from cumulative casual observation, the best example of which is a small rooftop apiary which has had no treatment for four years. They produce 90-110 lbs a year, several nucs from splits, need triple brood boxes and have a lovely temper; no DWV, no losses, overwintering on double broods.

I assume that queen genetics are favourable (brood break for splits only) and mean to raise queens there next season.

High hive humidity limits varroa reproduction, so poly and top insulation is ideal; what is your hive set-up?
 

fizzle 

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I am a new beekeeper - Having purchased a 6 frame 14x12 nuc in May.
Out of interest, what strain of bee did you purchase?

For the more experienced members, are some strains of bee more susceptible to varroa than others or more down to environmental factors?

Edit: Should have read the whole thread first. Eric half answered my question.
 

pargyle 

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Not really, but you've done well to get to grips with the problem.


What I have noticed is that some colonies - even apiaries - thrive with minimal treatments yet others have regular heavy varroa loads.

This was from cumulative casual observation, the best example of which is a small rooftop apiary which has had no treatment for four years. They produce 90-110 lbs a year, several nucs from splits, need triple brood boxes and have a lovely temper; no DWV, no losses, overwintering on double broods.

I assume that queen genetics are favourable (brood break for splits only) and mean to raise queens there next season.

High hive humidity limits varroa reproduction, so poly and top insulation is ideal; what is your hive set-up?
Paynes polys, with a super of insulation on top, stands with a skirt and the inspection board 75mm below the open mesh floor. 5mm Polycarbonate crownboards. I share your theory that some colonies seem to fare better with varroa than others and I've measured humidity levels - often it's well up in the mid 80's RH. I also have my apiary in my garden - it's semi-urban and within less than a mile they have varied forage all the year from early spring to the ivy in late october, I don;t think my bees forage in a very wide radius - bees are opportunists so they won't fly farther than they have to. Whilst beebase shows a large number of apiaries within a 5km radius I suspect that my bees do not come into significant contact with other honey bees as a matter of course. I try and maintain a low impact inspection regime - I have a theory that the more you tinker with them unnecssarily they more stressed they are and the more prone to disease of failure they become. I run foundationless frames and as far as possible they overwinter on honey topped up with Invert. I don't get disease of any sort in my hives and I get a honey crop which, this year, has been above average for the other hobbyists I know in the area.

There are so many factors that could influence varroa infestations that it's impossible to tell, My bees are a mixture of local mongrels and bought in queens - nothing special. Whatever it is it works for me - I'm 10+ years in with no treatment but I'm not complacent and I check regularly for varroa levels - if there was a colony that was not coping they would get treated,
 

Graymich 

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Out of interest, what strain of bee did you purchase?

For the more experienced members, are some strains of bee more susceptible to varroa than others or more down to environmental factors?

Edit: Should have read the whole thread first. Eric half answered my question.
I live in Fleet in Hampshire and purchase Buckfast bees from a bee supplier in Andover
 

Arfermo 

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I know I am sad but yes I actually counted every mite every day from every hive and recorded it
Blimey. Life too precious at my age to waste time counting at all. When they are there in numbers that is enough for me to know what to do. Some say the bees are becoming more tolerant of varroa anyway. Might be able to not treat at all soon?
 
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Arfermo 

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Thanks - do you think I could just treat using OA twice a year or should I use Apiguard as the other treatment
I reckon that is enough and that is all I have ever done for at least the last 13 years.
 

Murox 

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Blimey. Life too precious at my age to waste time counting at all. When they are there in numbers that is enough for me to know what to do. Some say the bees are becoming more tolerant of varroa anyway. Might be able to not treat at all soon?
I really get concerned about that statement. (there is a similar current parallel issue occurring worldwide right now). They have the capacity to put up with and endure a nasty little creature that slowly eats parts of their anatomy whilst they live right now; even though it weakens them, compromising their ability to fight off a variety of viruses and diseases and will kill them ultimately.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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Too many - but not nearly enough
a nasty little creature that slowly eats parts of their anatomy whilst they live right now; even though it weakens them, compromising their ability to fight off a variety of viruses and diseases and will kill them ultimately.
No way to talk about the current mob in charge of the country!
 

pargyle 

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I really get concerned about that statement. (there is a similar current parallel issue occurring worldwide right now). They have the capacity to put up with and endure a nasty little creature that slowly eats parts of their anatomy whilst they live right now; even though it weakens them, compromising their ability to fight off a variety of viruses and diseases and will kill them ultimately.
Not always.. there's lots of factors that influence varroa infestation and whilst generally I would agree with you - there are exceptions. It's why proper testing for varroa is important and treatment if they need it ... but .... do they' ALWAYS need treatment ? 🤔
 

drex 

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Not always.. there's lots of factors that influence varroa infestation and whilst generally I would agree with you - there are exceptions. It's why proper testing for varroa is important and treatment if they need it ... but .... do they' ALWAYS need treatment ? 🤔
So, how many head lice on your scalp would be acceptable😉?
 

pargyle 

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So, how many head lice on your scalp would be acceptable😉?
It's irrelevant... you cannot use that age old argument for not treating...its not a like for like comparison. I measure my bees on the basis of their health... they are healthy and have some varroa. I have a fox who lives in my garden ... she probably has fleas and worms... and yet she is well fed ... looks very fit and successfully rsises at least two cubs every year. Some creatures appear able to cope with some levels of parasite... if you continually treated your hair for head lice when you didn't need it ... would that make the treatment less effective when you did and what state would your hair be in after months of prophylactic treatment. I'm not suggesting treatment free is what everyone should do . .. just that checking if they need it and treating accordingly us better. My bees are fine without being treated... what would you do ? Treat them just in case ?
 

oliver90owner 

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Just as my late addition to the thread. As per Hemo, the mites had likely been made resistant to apistan by the vendor - who is clearly an idiot IMO, to say the least. Needs naming!

On top of that, Apistan is renowned for inefficiency if not applied in optimum conditions (do they still quote efficacies from non-UK tests, like they used to?). Spain and/or Italy IIRC.

That likely accounts for your (expensive) travails, trying to rid them of the pest.

Oxalic acid sublimation would/should have dropped virtually all the mites in the swarmed colony if they were treated before any new brood was capped. Remember that for the future. Likely, too, that the queen was an older one, as well.

You have done well not to lose your colony/colonies since starting. Please go into winter with the minimum of space beside and above your colonies, no holes left open in the crownboards, 50mm (ideally) of effective insulation above the crownboard, mousegards in place and (if well stocked with stores at present) check for adequate stores when brooding starts in the spring.

Not a lot more you can do for them (yes, the extra solstice vape may be good, but should not change their survival chances unless heavily infested at present). Winter bees will likely (unfortunately) already be infected by these residual mites while they were still pupating, so nothing can be done about that.

Good luck with over-wintering all three successfully. There may well be a carpet of dead bees on the hive floors, in the spring, and the colonies weak, but hopefully still strong enough to build up in the spring.

Name that vendor! Or other newbies may well suffer a worse fate than you have done!

RAB
 

hemo 

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The extra winter solstice vape won't benefit any survival now over winter but those that come through winter should have a good low or almost nil varroa count to start the year off.
Once in to spring sugar roll a sample of brood bees from each colony on a monthly basis till one carries out the main varroa treatment, this way one can try and keep on top of any mite rises /infestations and if need be carry out emergency treatments.
 

drex 

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@ pargyle, I hope you noticed the wink. I was playing devils advocate. I like your philosophy, but I am a treater, but in moderation.
It's ok talking about foxes with worms. You would remain healthy with a few threadworms in your guts, but I bet you would seek treatment as soon as you saw them. 😉
 
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Murox 

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The impact of mites clearly reduces/impairs the bees overall functions/abilities; but basing a decision to use 'preventative treatment' on thinking like the supposed burden of mites, the expected benefits of treatment or the anticipated disadvantages of non treatment seems a little irrelevant.
Where the possibility of mites developing resistance to the agents used exists, it would be wise to treat for varroa only when there is a 'proven through testing' need.
 
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