OA treatment revealed some very full hives...

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Gardenbees 

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I wasn't happy with the varroa situation this autumn - despite their usual treatment, in good weather, there was still a small mite count afterwards. So, for the first time at this apiary I decided to do an oxalic acid treatment as well. I'm not generally keen, but don't want the bees to have a really lousy spring if I can avoid it. For the first time in a while they stayed indoors today in a proper cluster, so I treated them this morning.

I diluted the 6% OA solution from Th*rnes, which is a bit fierce on its own, down to about 4% by adding some extra tepid syrup. One colony pinged me angrily, the other just sat and muttered without reacting. NB I got a syringe from the local veterinary hospital - 76p, so a better deal than most apiary suppliers!

The treatment was straightforward enough, but I was surprised at the sheer number of bees. Both hives appear to be heavy with stores, and when I shone a torch through the polycarbonate crown boards there was a staggering amount of bees for the time of year. Every seam was stuffed with them in both hives. They must have been breeding up until very recently, and also collecting a significant amount of food.

I felt a slight embarrasment of riches, looking at them, because whilst it's nice to have a full, well-supplied hive it doesn't bode particularly well for them if conditions deteriorate suddenly. They could eat themselves out of house and home very rapidly. Or, we could have another explosive spring buildup, which gave me (and, ahem, my neighbours) so much fun last year!
 

Arfermo 

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I'm a bit surprised you seem to think that a small mite count means very much after autumnal thymol. They still multiply especially during the prolonged good weather we have enjoyed this year and for that reason I would not accept that doing away with oxalic in mid winter - or even after any of the swarming techniques - should be dispensed with. It can only be for the benefit of the bees for the oncoming season and that is the best reason for doing it if ever there was one.
 
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Gardenbees 

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?? Yes, I agree. The small mite count (rather than none at all, as in previous years) was the reason I decided to treat this winter. Because by spring they would have built up considerably.

Up until this (last) year only one of my hives had any visible mite drop at all, and then only one in three days. This is the first time I've felt that they needed midwinter treatment. The drop at the end of the autumn treatment was three mites in three days, for the record.
 

steph333 

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Hi

Do you think your low mite count is due to being on natural comb? I am thinking of changing to this on my national frames without foundation inserted.
 

drex 

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Did the usual thymol in Sept, even though my mite drops were low, with a moderate response. Have just taken out my monitoring boards from OA 5 days ago, and have had a large drop of mites.
 

alexander 

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does a warm winter have any effect on the number of mites, warmer meaning more? or is there no relation at all?
 

RoofTops 

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Main problem with a warm winter is the worry the queen may not stop laying - so the winter OA treatment will be less effective.
 

Gardenbees 

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Main problem with a warm winter is the worry the queen may not stop laying - so the winter OA treatment will be less effective.
Yes: in fact I'm sure that's the case with mine this year. I'll check the boards tomorrow and see whether there's much mite fall, but even if there is, I'd be surprised if there's no brood at all, so the little horrors are still likely to be lurking in there. It will be very interesting to see how things are in spring, especially if this mild weather continues throughout.

So far I have had very low mite levels except for this autumn, when they went up to "low to medium" levels. By "very low" I mean falls of 10 to 20 mites after an Apilife Var treatment, and none seen at any other time. By low to medium I mean one a day, and a couple of hundred after putting in a new Apilife Var strip. I won't tolerate anything over one mite a day as they do build up very quickly. Hence the dissatisfaction with the results this autumn. But I have the luxury of a small number of easily-attended hives; if I had a large out-apiary I might have to be satisfied with higher levels of mite drop just because of the logistics of keeping on top of it.

I'm not sure whether using foundationless frames has affected this or not. They certainly vary the cell size quite a bit across the comb, which may be just a structural feature or may reflect an instinct to discourage parasites. Possibly it helps.

Incidentally I would strongly recommend that new beeks have a look at the mite levels in drone brood at some point, it's very instructive. I had quite high levels of mites in the drone brood this autumn (for the first time) despite the apparently small number on the inspection boards. In fact, putting some BS frames into the 14x12 hive and removing the drone comb from the bottom probably did as much to get rid of varroa as anything else I did, if not more.
 

BeeMoustashe 

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I'm in two minds about OA this year. I had a long break in brood rearing in june/july (5 weeks ish), and consistently low natural mite drop throughout. With Apiguard on in sept. I got about one a day dropped and about 3 weeks ago only dropped one mite in 7 days. I'm going to put the board back in soon to get a more current indicator.

My quandry is, if they're at a similarly low level, do I make the most of the mild winter/queen laying (if she has been) to go through to spring with a stronger colony than otherwise, and sugar dust and/or Varroa-Gard them later, or OA now as a precaution, damage the brood, with potentially no benefit if the low drop levels are to be relied on?

Pretty certain I'm in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation!
 

Erichalfbee 

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I'm in a similar situation
I have oxalic ready to go, just waiting on the weather.
The general consensus here from similar threads is to do it.
 

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It's my first year and I treated with Apilife in the beginning of Sept and had a moderate mite drop. I put a board in a few weeks ago and had a drop of 4 a day, so decided to do OA. After 5 days the drop is approx 500! from only 4 seams of bees. I presume I'll need to do some form of management in the spring as well.
 

drstitson 

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"I treated with Apilife in the beginning of Sept and had a moderate mite drop"

EXACTLY how did you use your september treatment? ie duration and hive set up?
 

Lead-Legs 

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EXACTLY how did you use your september treatment? ie duration and hive set up?[/QUOTE]

As per the instructions, broke the pieces and placed on top of the frames in the corners, placed a super on top as an eke, with a crownboard and roof on top of that, left on for a week then repeated twice. So had 3 treatments in total.

I do have another hive on the same stand that came from a swarm I collected, that's in an old BB with a solid floor. They have had the same varroa treatment. Is it possible that the high varroa load has come from them?
 

Monsieur Abeille 

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I'm in two minds about OA this year. I had a long break in brood rearing in june/july (5 weeks ish), and consistently low natural mite drop throughout. With Apiguard on in sept. I got about one a day dropped and about 3 weeks ago only dropped one mite in 7 days. I'm going to put the board back in soon to get a more current indicator.

My quandry is, if they're at a similarly low level, do I make the most of the mild winter/queen laying (if she has been) to go through to spring with a stronger colony than otherwise, and sugar dust and/or Varroa-Gard them later, or OA now as a precaution, damage the brood, with potentially no benefit if the low drop levels are to be relied on?

Pretty certain I'm in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation!
Mine had low/no drop when checked a couple of weeks ago and I was in two minds about treating. Very glad I decided to as one of them has subsequently dropped over 100 mites in two days, and both the other colonies have had larger than expected drops.
 

Gardenbees 

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Results

Well, mine appear to have been a bit of a borderline case. Just braved the gales to check the boards, and overnight the "strong, silent hive" had no mites at all on the board, and the "don't suffer fools gladly" hive had 42. I'd be prepared to bet, however, that there are still some mites in there in sealed brood, esp. the strong one, which did have a drop of about one a day when I checked last week. I'll leave the inspection board in for one more day but I doubt there'll be many more.

Btw I'm grateful to the Met Office: yesterday was definitely the better bet for treating bees! Very windy and wet here today, and with an odd, clammy warmth. Bees in the strong hive were flying, or attempting to. The cat bravely followed me and the dog on our walk first thing, and came back looking like a wet pine-cone with his fur all blown backwards! (He is now mending his dignity by cleaning his toes out on my duvet...)
 

drstitson 

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"placed a super on top as an eke"

NOT needed and probably helped reduce efficacy - idea with any thymol based treatment is to ensure bees occupy smallest possible volume plus a decent hive temp is maintained (important in "normal" UK autumn).

ALV needs no eke.
Apiguard just needs a thin frame (eg 40mm).

oh and does your crownboard have vent/clearer holes? were these covered for duration?

"left on for a week then repeated twice. So had 3 treatments in total." you're meant to use 4 tabs (ie 4 weekly treatments in total)
 
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gavin 

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I'll leave the inspection board in for one more day but I doubt there'll be many more.
Best leave it in for a week or a fortnight if you'd like the full picture. Two days might not be that representative. At the very least your strong silent hive might need time to shuffle the bees around so that the dead mites can actually fall. Just a thought. I'm not a great observer of mite fall, but two days seems a bit short.

G.
 

Gardenbees 

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Best leave it in for a week or a fortnight if you'd like the full picture. Two days might not be that representative. At the very least your strong silent hive might need time to shuffle the bees around so that the dead mites can actually fall. Just a thought. I'm not a great observer of mite fall, but two days seems a bit short.

G.
meh. I'd rather not leave the boards in for weeks when it's this wet outside. I always have the feeling that it makes the hive less well-aired and more damp. But you're right, there might be a few more mites after three or four days.
 

gavin 

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It would certainly be interesting to check. Just have a feeling that a more dormant cluster might drop less to start with.
 

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