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skydragon 

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Just did a varroa mite drop count on my hive for the first time and over a day and a half got a varroa count of around 23, which equates to approx daily drop count of 15.

Background - 5 frame nuke put in National hive with open mesh floor in July. Has been doing well, have been feeding syrup continuosly and it now spans 8 full frames of stores, brood and pollen with bees covering all 8 frames.

Now I've seen the mite drop count (and kicking myself I didn't do a count a month ago) I've removed the QE, added a 2" high eek, blocked the mesh floor and placed a tub of apiguard on top of the frames centrally.

I had a quick look and could only see a couple of drone cells which I removed with a fork. I saw a varroa mite on one of the drone lavae.

Now the Apiguard treatment is in place...

- What are the chances of a full recovery in terms of reducing the mite drop to near zero and the colony surviving the winter?

- I have some BeeVital which i haven't used yet, but am thinking of using it a week after the end of the Apiguard treatment (ie. early Oct). Is this a good idea?

- I was planning to use an Oxalic acid/syrup trickle in early Jan, is this still a good idea?

- What should I be planning to use in March/April to kick the varroa in spring? I don't want to use Apiguard if possible as I've read it can drastically reduce brood production. Perhaps the Beevital could be used?

Ideas/feedback welcome.

Thanks,
 

Heather 

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IMO-- The Apiguard should hit it well- do 2 treatments.

Then let them recover and do Oxalic trickle as soon as all brood (or most) has hatched.

One varroa on one drone brood doesn't sound bad- They can have 8-9 in one, so you may be panicking unnecessarily.
Heather
 

skydragon 

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Thanks for the reply Heather.

I should also have added that the entrance is currently blocked down to a few inches wide, to combat robbing wasps.

Just looking at the bees a moments ago, there are a few hundred of them now clustered around the entrance and around a hundred flying around the hive... I guess they don't like the Thymol too much.

I've currently put a corregated plastic board in the runners under the mesh floor (it came with the mesh floor to count mites with I think) to block the floor off. However this sheet still allows a 10mm air gap along it's outside length. Is it a good idea to make up a wooden tray to completely block up the mesh floor?

I've read that it's important to restrict air flow when using Apiguard (Thymol) but I'm also cautious not to restrict the air flow too much and therefore cause ventilation/heat problems for the bees. Any ideas on what is best?
 

Heather 

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It also may be that they are out and about today- being sunny, as yesterday they didnt fly far as colder ( here in the South anyway)
They wont like the Apiguard but it will ease off.

The tray underneath should be sufficient- some ventilation, but heat rises so the Apiguard will work. Chill out:) You are doing fine:cheers2:
 

oliver90owner 

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Skydragon,

Where is your hive - in the full blazing sunshine?

At this time of the year the bees will generally sort out the ventilation by fanning if necessary and water evaporation (nectar to honey conversion or extra water brought in). Brood is dwindling, the brood temperature needs to be middle 30s, so not too much chance of overheating. An extra 50 mm of top space and a possibility of through draught at the entrance level, as well. Just keep an eye on the clusters outside the hive. They should settle down in a couple of days, but some bees are more sensitive to thymol vapour than others.

Eventually I would block off that 10mm gap (when they settle a little better) to make sure the mites are zapped as close to 100% as possible.

Regards, RAB
 

admin 

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Good advice in the posts above.

Also you may well find that a few of the bee's cannot cope well with the Thymol and will be found dead on the hive floor,its nothing to worry about..
 

Haughton Honey 

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Yup, good post.

You indicated at 2pm(ish) that you'd seen a hundred or so bees flying about the entrance to the hive. Orientation flights usually take place mid-afternoon, especially if the weather's good, so I wouldn't worry too much.
 

m100 

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Just did a varroa mite drop count on my hive for the first time and over a day and a half got a varroa count of around 23, which equates to approx daily drop count of 15.
You might have a daily drop of 15, but it could also be anything much lower or higher - DEFRA/FERA/CSL have said in the past that extrapolating/calculating a daily mite drop from anything less than a three day drop can be wildly inaccurate.

in addition if you also have live mites on the collection board then during a manual 'on board' count they can easily crawl off or under the board. Washing down the board with alcohol and 'counting the floaters' will also reveal the less visible light coloured varroa that are easy to miss among the wax scales.
 

skydragon 

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You might have a daily drop of 15, but it could also be anything much lower or higher - DEFRA/FERA/CSL have said in the past that extrapolating/calculating a daily mite drop from anything less than a three day drop can be wildly inaccurate.

in addition if you also have live mites on the collection board then during a manual 'on board' count they can easily crawl off or under the board. Washing down the board with alcohol and 'counting the floaters' will also reveal the less visible light coloured varroa that are easy to miss among the wax scales.
Understood.

I now realise I also had the sticky collection board in place whilst I did I hive inspection which will have undoubtably knocked down more mites than a natural daily drop.

Either way though my colony has varroa and it's currently being dosed with Apiguard.

In a few weeks time I'll do a undisturbed 4 -5 day count and see what's happened.
 
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The evidence is you have a high varroa level, this should be confirmed in a couple of days after applying the Apiguard. Hopefully there will be several hundred of the critters on the tray.

I would apply the OA treatment in late December but perhaps people do it later where you are.

My suggestion for a spring treatment would be a shook swarm. We can do them in late March here in Devon, perhaps a couple of weeks later where you are. I accept this is by no means an accepted treatment, quite the opposite in fact. "Wax farming" is a term of abuse sometimes used to describe the method. I can only go by my experience which is the bees come bouncing back and do better than colonies not given the treatment. It may not be practical with a large number of colonies but with a few it is very easy to do.

Why would you want to do it your case? You get the bees onto new fresh comb and given the levels of varroa you seem to have from a nuc made up in July - which isn't very long ago - I would be concerned over what other problems there are in the colony. A fresh start will do them no harm.
 

admin 

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I have listened to very good reports regards doing shook swarms every year.

I am not about to try it myself but am keeping an eye on results from a local Apiary.
 

Haughton Honey 

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I'm hoping that replacing all of the foundation in one of my double National brood boxes during March will effectively do the same thing as a shook swarm.
 
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Replacing all the foundation in only one of the two brood boxes is a Bailley frame change which is different as it will not have any impact on the varroa - they will just emerge from the old brood box and take up residence in the new one. Ditto any diseases. A Bailley frame change has its place, primarily to get the bees onto fresh comb, especially where the old comb is clogged with ivy, pollen or mis-shapen after queen cells etc., but it lacks the impact on varroa which a shook swarm provides. However, for a weak colony it is ideal.

A shook swarm means just that, shake all the bees out of the current brood box into another new one and then destroy the old combs at once, thus killing most of the varroa. Even better is to leave a single comb of unsealed brood in the new box until it is mostly sealed and then destroy that, thus giving the varroa a double whammy. You can also treat up to the point any of the new brood is sealed with OA/formic acid or icing sugar if you want to stay chemical free. This will give them a triple whammy.

A lot of brood is destroyed in a shook swam which goes against everything beekeepers are traditionally taught. This is why the method meets a lot of resistance, but in my experience the queen responds by going into egg laying overdrive and the bees themselves work harder to re-establish their colony. It triggers what I call the swarm impulse. Newly housed swarms always seem to be up at daybreak whilst established colonies may not role out of bed until ten. Expect a dip in population after a shook swarm at first then a sharp increase. Feed throughout the process until they have drawn out plenty of comb and keep a QX under the brood chamber until the queen starts laying to dissuade the colony from looking for a new home.

My experience of shook swarms is in South Devon and in less mild climates with less forage it may not be quite so appropriate, but I would urge any doubters to give it a go.
 
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Hivemaker. 

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Good method for EFB,or nosema diseased combs, but thats as far as it goes in my oppinion.I prefer to save the brood,and decide which combs to save and fumigate for further use after the brood has emerged. We all have our favourite methods,thats what makes it so interesting,but if your varroa managment is done well,there is no need for either method in the first place.
 
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gavin 

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I'm happy to agree with Hivemaker that it seems wasteful as a means of dealing with Varroa. The EFB-cleaning (and virus cleaning) aspect could be lost if you try trapping Varroa on a frame of open brood inserted into the new box too.

Rooftops (or anyone) do the apparent health benefits of shook swarming seem to last more than the one year, or does it have to be repeated annually?

all the best

Gavin
 

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My local Apiary are doing it on a 12 month basis for the last 2 seasons.
I will make contact with them to see how it is going.
They all seem to agree that it's the way to go regards EFB..
 

m100 

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You can also treat up to the point any of the new brood is sealed with OA/formic acid
Oxalic Acid will kill all unsealed brood and do nothing to sealed brood, both are a waste as varroa don't invade brood cells until the cell is about to be sealed - the window of opportunity is small and the waste of fully fed brood is completely unnecessary. Much better to use it on the bees as soon as they are in the new box and starting to draw comb.
 

oliver90owner 

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Now then, fellow beekeepers. Think laterally a bit for a change.

If you have several hives and they are otherwise healthy, why waste the brood from the shook-swarm method? Put it in a hive (preferably well away from the rest and let it hatch.

The bees on the fresh comb will probably benefit from some sort of varroah treatment while there is no capped brood and removal of the first small areas of capped brood from the new comb will further reduce the varoah load as all, or most, of the surviving mites will dive into cells of the first (of the new larvae) to be capped.

The one hive with heavy varroah loading can then be treated as appropriate. Good first-year comb need not be wasted. Fumigate with ethanoic acid and re-use later. Old comb goes to the wax recycle receptacle.

Saves all that lost brood, good comb and hammers the varroah to near extinction (for a while).

OK job if you don't have so many hives. More effort than simple shook swarm and throw away all the brood. Probably hobbyists only and with only relatively few hives would do this.

Regards, RAB
 

skydragon 

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OK, quick update.

Day 7 of Apiguard treatment.

I did a 24hr mite count and had a drop of around 60 - 70 mites, so the Apiguard still seems to be killing them and to be doing the trick.

I noticed that the bees were back on the rapid syrup feeder again today for the first time since dosing began... Had a look in the hive and the Apiguard was virtually all gone!

What was left in the tray was a few grams of hard crusty residue (not gel).

Looking through the BB, the Apiguard doesn't seem to have put the queen off laying, as there is plenty of brood of all sizes on multiple frames, plus sealed brood.

I'm away with work for a full week later this week and didn't want to leave it over a week until I put in a fresh tray, bearing in mind the current one is exhausted of active gel and in addition the weather has started to cool down a bit and I'm keen to make maximum use of the gel whilst the datime temp is still ok (although today was a barmy 17degC). So I put in a fresh new tray of Apiguard today, which I'll leave in for a few weeks.

Hopefully this now and an Oxalic acid trickle in early Jan will sort the varroa out :boxing_smiley: !!
 
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