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Natural beekeeping varroa treatment

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Mickby 

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I cannot understand how varroa treatment such as icing sugar dusting is compatible with the "natural beekeeping" practice of not disturbing the brood nest. Could someone explain please?
 

Nellie 

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Because what's "natural" beekeeping to one is close to full on BBKA membership to another so some treat, some don't. Some practice swarm control, others insist on standing outside the hive with a skep and chasing them down the road. I look at the mainstream of people calling themselves "natural" beekeepers and other than the choice of hive they're doing basically the same things with their bees that 90%+ of "conventional" beekeepers are sometimes with a little bit of handwaving involved to convince themselves/other people that they're doing something radically different compared to us nasty bee torturing types with our box hives and frames and moustaches to twirl.

That's my take on it at any rate.
 

Mike a 

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I cannot understand how varroa treatment such as icing sugar dusting is compatible with the "natural beekeeping" practice of not disturbing the brood nest. Could someone explain please?
I only dust the bees on top of the frames so not to dust any newly laid eggs or larvae and I use this method 2-3 times a year as part of my IPM, although some people dismiss it others say its very effective. Personally I think its worth doing every now and then and compared to most of the other methods of varroa control I wouldn't dream of using, this can be done whilst there is a honey flow with no ill effects to the honey.

The vast majority of beeks feed sugar to their bees in one form or another during a season so I don't see there is any harm and if it knocks out a mere 1-5% or more thats a good thing. Beeks judge themselves and their bees on results and demand cost-effectiveness, its not effective as a stand alone varroa treatment but as its only 15-20p worth of sugar at most to me its worth doing along with every thing else.
 

Finman 

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Beekeeping has nothing natural. Honeybee is semi domesticated animal.
By selecting some wild features it is not wild animal any more. It is like a horse. Easy to run away but easy to take back.

What natural is in dusted sugar ? Oxalic acid is very common in nature. So does formic acid.
 
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The natural thing would be to not have bees-hives at all.
 
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Does sugar dusting just make mites fall off the bees or does it block their breathing holes and kill them?
 

Brosville 

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It makes the bees have a good scratch! (Is the usual version), I suspect that it may also encourage them to groom each other because of the sugar sweetness
 
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madasafish 

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But 70-80% of mites are under brood caps.
Precisely

As far as I can see, sugar dusting is a time consuming way of killing a few mites and making a beekeeper feel he/she has achieved something when reality is they have wasted their time.

Like a well known way of getting a warm glow...:-(bee-smillie
 

Mike a 

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As far as I can see, sugar dusting is a time consuming way of killing a few mites and making a beekeeper feel he/she has achieved something when reality is they have wasted their time.

Like a well known way of getting a warm glow...:-(bee-smillie
Scoff all you like, counting the extra mites on the varroa tray is enough for me to be able to say its not highly effective but it does make a small difference.
 

madasafish 

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I'm not scoffing. Really. I just see it as non productive use of my time : especially with TBHs where it's a real pia to do,
 

oliver90owner 

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only 15-20p worth of sugar

Repeated daily for three weeks might get a result at up to 4 quids worth of sugar, so may be comparable with apiguard, or may not. Some up-sides, some down-sides.

No reason to believe queen would be likely to go off-lay, so potentially more bees after the treatment(s). So more honey or winter bees later.

Have a need to open the hive 20 times or more on consecutive days. Not so good, especially if there are supers on.

No absconding or removal of larvae (unless sugar dusting is over-done) as has apparently been the case with some apiguard treatments (we've heard suspiciously nothing on that front since the posted warnings!).

Any non-use of 'killer' chemicals is to be commended.

Colony survival and health/strength may be increased.

Less need for drone comb removal, so less drone comb needs to be encouraged, so more worker brood produced instead. Drone larvae have to be attended, kept warm and fed for over eight days, as well as being capped and requiring special larger cells to be built. All these things have their individual cost to the colony.

Can be done any time - nectar flow, or no flow, without danger of contaminating honey (apart from the few grams of non-consumed icing sugar - which would more likely be fed to larvae anyway

======

My method would be to do it to swarms (in total - so called sugar rolling) before any capped brood is present, followed by removal of the first capped brood (to destroy most of the mites missed by the sugar rolling). Probably well over 90% efficacy, if done carefully. This might include shook swarms, artificial swarms and their splits, so may remove the need for other treatments in the productive season for a good proportion of the apiary and should lead to fewer infected bees emerging throughout the rest of the productive season.

Time consuming and a bit 'ad hoc' around the apiary, but easy given the time and will to do it.

OK, this was added for those who actually 'think' about possible alternatives rather than blindly following the flock (who are probably blindly following the previous flock). Not saying it is an alternative in all cases, but is certainly something to think about.

If people start to think things through, beekeeping becomes easier, more pleasant (for those with nastier bees, perhaps), reduces dependence on harder chemicals, increases awareness of the effects of one's actions and is all way around of beneficial advancement. And for other reasons, too. This would be appropriate for all other action/inspections, etc carried out on a regular, or not so regular, basis.

Perhaps I should change my screen name to 'The Thinking Beekeeper'

Comments please, and I don't mind which side of the fence you sit. Commenting means you may be thinking, which is good. So demonstrate with your reasoning, please!

Regards, RAB
 

drstitson 

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"But 70-80% of mites are under brood caps"

yes - but if you're dusting daily for several weeks then you'll be hitting newly emerged ones too.
 

Storm™ 

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Although no bees until next year I would opt for this treatment as things stand. Also been looking as Finman says at natural oxalic acid treatments. Rhubarb leaves are laden with the stuff. Draped over the frames it is bitten down and shoved out the door. Treating as it goes. Minimally perhaps. Trays of this chemical, feed with another chemical, drizzle with this chemical and dust/spray/dose with whatever else I find hard to be happy introducing.

Speaking to a friend who is a beek and is a commercial beek, (despite asking the question here and getting no answers) has heard of treating with Rhubarb leaves and has even done it with some success. I reminded him of it. He had forgotten that his teacher, an old priest used to do just that.

I think though that you have to learn about what your bees are showing/telling/indicating to you and then make a decision as to what to do. Treating heavily for Varroa is obviously common sense. But I have researched several ways of doing it, not just wacking more gunk in the hive. Careful breeding etc. . trying to cover all the options. Not just purchasing the tub and hoofing it on. Does it need it. Is production down. What else could it be. I mean this forum exists only for that reason - as a reference site where questions can be asked. And more often than not, you get two answers per beek. This suggests that its like treating humans. Everyone is different and everyone is different on different days. One argument from one beek makes sense (I do not want to see my bees crawling around with deformed wings thank you very much), but there is an equally if not more pertinent argument (treating with these chemicals just kills the weaker ones and therefore allows to live the stronger more resistant Varroa.) Totally right it does.

So I'll keep reading away until I can learn as much as possible so I can do the best I can. Thats all I can do. And hope to learn from others mistakes.
 

justme 

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RAB, what you say makes perfect sense to me except.... that it has been mentioned by several bee people recently that lack of drones, due partially to drone culling is causing the problems with queens mating that have been seen in recent years. That makes sense to me also and while I'm not saying we should encourage bees to make more drones than normal we shouldn't be reducing them too much either.

Does that make sense to anyone else?
 

Finman 

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"But 70-80% of mites are under brood caps"

yes - but if you're dusting daily for several weeks then you'll be hitting newly emerged ones too.
Brood cycle is 21 days for worker and drones 24 days.

If you invent to kill mites with more painfull way, please tell us.

However, practical reasearches tell that dust sugar is not effective at all.

.
 
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Finman 

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Some have asked what about rhubard juice. --- Most of oxalic acid is in plants is as a calcíum salt, not as acid.
 

oliver90owner 

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justme,

perfect sense to me except...

I don't recall mentioning drone culling at all. I agree that healthy numbers of drones is good. Not excessive or too few.

All I said was that if drone culling were not needed, then drone brood need not be encouraged for that purpose, thereby wasting colony effort on drawing drone comb, feeding the larvae (when the house bees could be feeding worker larvae); all the food that is expended on that drone brood could be better directed to feed extra workers. Same with the capping effort, extra heat energy to keep the brood nest at the correct temperature and space used up; for what? Just so the beekeeper can cut it out and throw it away!

I differentiate between natural drone brood and that specifically encouraged for drone culling, which usually amounts to wild comb built on the bottom of a super frame, which in itself means a brood box frame must be removed for the duration of the comb building and brooding, until all capped.

Hope that explains my reasoning - that drone brooding for culling has a cost to the colony and to the beekeeper as a reduced honey crop. Quite a substantial cost it is too!

Regards, RAB
 
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TBRNoTB 

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I'll change my name

only 15-20p worth of sugar



Perhaps I should change my screen name to 'The Thinking Beekeeper'

Comments please, and I don't mind which side of the fence you sit. Commenting means you may be thinking, which is good. So demonstrate with your reasoning, please!

Regards, RAB
Or maybe .....The Ego has just landed! the 'thinking' is self explanatory.:puke:
 

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