Varroa Count High - Help!

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BBK 

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I'm in my first year of keeping and after reading/listening to all kinds of advice regarding treatment for Varroa I opted not to treat with any of the Api stan/guard/Life Var products but rather use the Hive Clean liquid on a regular basis. All seemed well during the Summer. However, I've had a monitoring board in for a week having applied a dose of Hive Clean last Sunday and I'm getting an average mite drop of 40 a day. I know this is way too high and now I don't know if I've got a real problem until I can apply Oxalic Acid in early December. I've tried to do right by my bees and don't want to fail them at this crucial stage. They were on about 6 frames in a single brood chamber with plenty of stores being packed away. Advice much appreciated.
 

Mike a 

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The best thing I would advise is do nothing, don't take this the wrong way but as new bee keeper if you open them up now and start messing around with them your more likely to do more harm than good as you only have one colony if any thing goes wrong like killing the queen the colony is doomed because you won't be able to combine it with another. Just ensure they have plenty of stores if low I'd put a large lump of fondant in.
 

BBK 

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Thanks Mike. I guess its all good learning - just hope I have a colony in the Spring to work with. It's a bit chilly up here in Lancashire so starting to think about battening the girls down for winter.

I wonder if anyone out there has experience of using Hive Clean as their only defense against Varroa?
 

Chris B 

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If their biggest threat is currently varroa then you need to put all other concerns aside and deal with it quick. They won't suffer from being opened up. Bees are still flying most afternoons, and even if they weren't a quick disturbance does no major damage.
A thymol treatment of any variety won't be quite as good as a few weeks ago but it will still knock off a lot of mites and might be the difference between survival or not. You can follow up with oxalic acid later if you want.

I'm still on the tail end of thymol treatments and it's still working.
 

oliver90owner 

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I think I would insert a couple apistan strips NOW. Apart from lifting the crown board there need be no further disruption other than carefully and slowly inserting the strips between the frames of the broodnest. Minimal risk to the queen and far better than losing the whole colony, including the queen!

There may be resistant mites but you may get a proportion of the rest, so is only an interim measure. This is an emergency treatment situation and not one I would recommend on a regular basis as more and more mites will gain resistance.

If you are lucky, and the their resistance to these chemicals has reduced you may get most of the mites, but there is no guarantee you will even get half of them, but any is better than none!

I don't think doing nothing is an option although your mite drop is perhaps not quite a natural drop. IF the mite level is high - and this can be brought about in several ways, at this time of the season, doing nothing is tantamount to waiting to lose your colony.

What you need to know is the real mite loading and I would strongly recommend you to get an experienced beek to take a look and give their opinion.

If you still have a high mite count after this treatment I would give them an oxalic acid trickle treatment when they are likely to be broodless or at least have very few larvae in the hive.

The underlying problem is that a high proportion of your 'winter bees' have pupated with varroa feeding on them and there may already be more viral spread than is good for the colony. Nothing can be done about that now, though.

Hope this helps.

Regards, RAB
 

BBK 

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Thanks Chris. Maybe a quick thymol treatment may be best. Do you use crystals or a prepared treatment of some kind?
 

BBK 

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Thanks RAB. Looks like Apistan it is then. I'll keep monitoring as I don't know if I've got an inflated daily count due the recent Hive Clean treatment. I'll also ask the Chairman of my local Association to come and have a look.
 

Chris B 

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I'm using Apiguard for convenience. It doesn't matter which brand or even home-made as long as you are confident of correct dosage. But speed is important so let that dictate your choice.

As for RAB's Apistan suggestion, it would certainly help too, but personally I wouldn't rely on it alone without knowing how resistant your mites are to the treatment. With thymol there is no resistance issue at present. It works reasonably well at lower temperatures. DEFRA's booklet shows it as an option until end of October. Temperatures will drop but highest mite kill is in first 2 weeks anyway.
 

Mike a 

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However, I've had a monitoring board in for a week having applied a dose of Hive Clean last Sunday and I'm getting an average mite drop of 40 a day.
I am very sorry BBK, I completely misread your post and read it as you had 40 mites drop over a week for some reason.
:beatdeadhorse5:

40 / day is too high so follow the sage advice given as soon as possible before its to late.
 

BBK 

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Thanks Chris and everyone for your advice. I'll apply Apiguard as soon as i can get my hands on some - else Apistan if I can get it sooner. Our club always recommend an Oxalic treatment in December also. That plus feeding them up and I'll see if I've got away with it. Still not sure if I'm getting an inflated count from my recent (6 days ago) Hive Clean treatment. Measure, record & learn I guess.
 

johna 

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Hive clean already contains Oxalic and Formic acid together with Citric acid and sucrose so you will have knocked down a lot of the mites already.There will also only be a small amount of sealed brood present so most of the mite population will be on the adult bees.By all means use Apistan but Thymol works best at higher temperatures so use it if it makes you feel better.I would certainly use a dribble of 3 1/2% Oxalic acid at Christmas which will hammer the exposed mites.A feed of fondant wouldn't hurt either.
 

BBK 

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Thanks johna for the reassuring words - I'm hoping the count I'm getting is because the Hive Clean is hammering the mites.

Andy - thanks for the offer - happily exchange some apiguard for cash. I'm in Bretherton. Can I arrange to pick some up?
 

oliver90owner 

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BBK,

They were on about 6 frames in a single brood chamber with plenty of stores being packed away.

Not sure what you would call strong, and it is a bit subjective, but if they are not occupying/utilising the whole box, they may well be better confined to part of the box for winter warmth. I usually insert insulated dummies at the extremities, or a divider to seal them at one end so they don't have to heat so much head-space and to reduce heat loss through the hive sides.

My initial thoughts were that now, late into October, apiguard may not even get touched if they start to cluster, hence the stab at apistan.

Regards, RAB
 

BBK 

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Thanks RAB. I have a dummy board in at one end - it isn't insulated though so I may try and stick some polystyrene in to help. How do you insulate a plywood dummy board? I did pick up plenty of thick insulating material from B&Q though and am planning to use this on the crown board.
 

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Hive Clean can best be described as a gentle varroa treatment. I doubt it will do any "hammering" of mites. If you have been using it as directed on the bottle and you have a high varroa count then I suggest trying a thymol treatment and Api Life Var might be your best bet as it will work without the bees having to touch it. Given the lateness in the year give them a full tablet and repeat with another complete tablet after two weeks. Don't remove any of the bits of tablet until the Spring.
 

oliver90owner 

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BBK,

I might use a tight fitting expanded polystyrene block covered in fablon or similar (bees will chew, and carry away, 'packing or insulating, density polystryrene). This is why polyhives are made at perhaps three or more times denser material than packaging and 'primarily insulating' materials. It is really the entrapped gases that give the insulation properties, not the plastic (compare high plain polystyrene cups with expanded polystyrene ones).

The crownboard is very thin so would nearly always benefit from a layer of insulation above. When I started, the original colonies I bought had layers of pieces of carpet on the crownboards, later I used a 100mm slab in a super, but more recently 50mm or 25mm sheets seem to suffice adequately. The acid test is whether snow melts more quickly than the better insulated covers! Things like keeping the roof on can be affected by loose sheets raising it above bthe super or brood box.

Of course, the type of floor and hive ventilation is important too so these things have to be considereed as a whole package of measures.

With dividers the important thing is to prevent heat loss over the top to the empty part of the hive (alternatively fill it completely) - the bottom is not so important unless dividing two colonies in the same box which some do - but I avoid if at all possible, unless effectively thermally isolated from each other.

Regards, RAB
 

BBK 

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Thanks everyone for your comments. I've learned a heap just today.
I'm sure everyone reading these posts will have
picked up some very useful tips too. Thymol treatment has started
this afternoon (thanks Andy in Preston for supplies) and I 'll be making
some insulating blocks as per RAB's directions.
 
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