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Varroa to treat or not?

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Juststarting 

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I've just done 4 days monitoring on two colonies which I have recombined today (one was queenless, no brood) the other queen right but smaller.

I used oil boards to monitor so hope that any varroa havent just "walked" off but my drop was very low - 1 a day on each colony.

I had planned to treat either apigard or hivemakers thymol treatment, and may be oxalic acid later in the year, but the fera calculator recommends that I do not need to treat until later next year.

Should I still treat? If I should treat anyway is there any need to monitor other than to check if highly infested during season and requiring emergency action?

I dont want to cause problems for my bees but also dont want to treat just because thats what everyone does.:banghead:
 

oliver90owner 

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You keep monitoring. Drifting bees from an infested colony or bees robbing that collapsing colony can spread the mite around very quickly. Viral diseases from the mite infestation are kept to a minimum - but only if you know the risks.

Does this concur with other monitoring - previous mite drops, observation of bees, any deformed bees, drone brood checks?

One thing you don't do is rely on one result.

Regards, RAB
 

rae 

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I would treat. In my first season, I had exactly the same as you - colonies with no visible signs of varroa, so I was wondering whether to hit them with Apiguard. I did treat them, and the boards were awash with varroa.

You have a small, queenright colony with some varroa, and a broodless one with probably very little. At a guess, your queenright colony has a greater percentage of varroa than the fera figures would indicate, as they are for "normal" colonies.
 

Poly Hive 

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the unfortunate issue is colony collapse later this year.

You can have monitored happily and as far as you know the bees are tickety boo for winter, you have fed and done all the correct and proper things for your charges and unknown to you there is an influx of varroa laden evacuees and you are *stuffed*

I would do an oxalic treatment in early winter when you think your brooding is over. Might be interesting at that point to have your oiled board in to see what appears?

Better safe than no bees in Spring.

PH
 

jimbeekeeper 

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Better safe than no bees in Spring.

PH
Like PH says, better safe than no bees.

A lot of people appear to be jumping that varroa is gone, it is not.

Treating is proven to have minimal consiquences, so better to treat than wish you had.

Just started my Apiguard treatment, and will be doing OA over Xmass
 
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Juststarting 

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Thanks for the advice.
RAB - other signs from bees indicate that the result is consistent with low varroa level found.

But take the points about being safe rather than sorry. I felt it was worth checking with those of you with more experience.

My only concern about treating if its not really necessary is that it could lead to resistance build up, not in my hive per se but if we all treat whatever thats alot of mites being tested for thymol tolerance!
 

madasafish 

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I have a colony with regular daily drops of less than 6 mites. After Day2 of Apiguard, I counted over 100 mites..

Says it all I think..
 

Ivor Kemp 

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Old guy at our Association with over 30 years experience claimed there was no need to treat for varroa unless he actually saw some deformed bees in a colony and then only needed to stick a formic pad on for a week.

Last winter he lost seven out of his twelve colonies to varroa, although he himself never admitted it, but his friend (the Treasurer) told us it was true!
 

RoseCottage 

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I spoke at length last autumn with my bee inspector about whether to treat for varroa when there was no obvious sign. His view was why interfere and treat when you didn't have to and why bother monitoring if you are going to treat by default? All the usual over winter treatments have an impact so if you don't have a problem why try to fix it?

We didn't treat in September with Apiguard as the count was very low instead we monitored our bees. We survived the winter very well. We took advice again from him and treated with Oxalic acid in January and have again had no noticeable Varroa this year.

Has Varroa gone - most certainly not, but it seems true to say that a reasonable number of people across the UK have reported this year they are seeing less than last year. So perhaps this year we are having a better year. That is as far as I would go. and I am grateful that this seems to be the case.

Yes it is true that Varroa can increase pretty quickly, there are information sheets that explain the breeding behaviour and give guidance on this subject. I think they can be got from the BBKA web site. However, it is also true that not every hive will suffer an infestation of Varroa.

Unnecessary treatment is not a good approach, and I would question drawing too many inferences from the fact that a fellow lost 7 hives. Have you any evidence to state that this was due to Varroa? There could have been many reasons for this.

Without meaning to be rude in any way, unsubstantiated reports usually lead to an over-reaction and in the case of Varroa the less unnecessary treatment the better so that resistance to the treatments takes longer to build up in the Varroa population.

We don't have many weapons to use against this pest so lets be proportionate in our responses to what we actually see in our hives.

Monitor the situation, be capable and ready to act if needed.

All the best,
Sam.
 

Ivor Kemp 

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Well here we go again.

The wonders of the difference of opinion in beekeeping. No wonder us newbies get confused!

I was speaking to my regional bee inspector on the phone only yesterday, and he said completely the opposite to yours. He stated quite categorically that everyone should be treating for Varroa and preferably at the beginning of August.

He was also the one who confirmed the old boy's plight.
 
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Whilst bee inspectors can be a valuable source of information they do not undergo any sort of intensive training for their job other than a few days on recognition of diseases and how to handle the administrative side of their job. Any advice they give beyond that is usually just their own view on a subject as an experienced bee keeper. This is why you will hear different advice being given out by bee inspectors - it is not official policy they are dispensing just their own opinion.

I will treat for varroa irrespective of the results of monitoring. Varroa remains the number one reason for colony loss in the UK and impact on colonies of treament is minor compared to the impact of varroa.
 

mbc 

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The chap who lost 7 colonies has lost his susceptible hives and according to darwin what remains should be stronger, if we all treat prophilactically how are darwins theories supposed to work ?
 

Ivor Kemp 

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Agreed RoofTops.

And while a bee inspector may not undergo training he or she sees many more hives than any of us surely - and most importantly in our area.

It irritates me a bit some of the 'anti-inspector attitudes', particularly from some of the older 'more experienced' members of our association.

We had a morning going round with an inspector in June and it was invaluable.

However, there were a handful of older members standing on the edge of the circle quietly making negative exclamations all the time and whispering amongst themselves.

At the end of it I heard the inspector politely ask one of them why he had bothered coming!!
 

Ivor Kemp 

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mbc - applying that logic why bother inspecting your hive at all?

Don't feed.

Don't do anything if the hive is being robbed.

Don't prevent swarming.

Why not just leave everything and let nature sort it out?
 
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My inspector suggested that I should finish pulling off the crop and apply thymol this weekend - seemed very good advise and I'll be following it. As I understand it thymol treatments aren't overly intrusive to the bees (unlike Oxalic which I'll probably also do) and if your colony shows varroa signs near the end of September it may be too late to apply, bearing in mind probable temperature drop by October.

"Unecessary treatment is not a good approach" - true, but how on earth can you tell its unecessary?
 

mbc 

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mbc - applying that logic why bother inspecting your hive at all?

Don't feed.

Don't do anything if the hive is being robbed.

Don't prevent swarming.

Why not just leave everything and let nature sort it out?
Bees and varroa would certainly get along quicker if nobody treated but what I was hinting at was not treating prophylactically and only breeding from the ones that dont need treatment ( assessed through monitering )
 

Finman 

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I have followed my observation about mites with naked eyes.

One summer I think that I saw under 10 mites in 20 hives alltogether. There were no mites in drones either.

But when I gove oxalic acid in November, each hive dropped 300-500 mites.
 
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Bees and varroa would certainly get along quicker if nobody treated but what I was hinting at was not treating prophylactically and only breeding from the ones that dont need treatment ( assessed through monitering )
We've been down this route before and you will find descriptions of the Danish "Live and Let Die" experiments somewhere on the Forum but no strain of resistant bee was created as a result. Varroa is a parasite which our honey bee has no natural immunity to. In time perhaps a strain of bee will develop which can cope with varroa but whether that bee will be of any use to the beekeeper is questionable as varroa's normal host periodically absconds to keep ahead of varroa.

By all means leave your bees to die but don't assume the surving colonies have resistance - it is could be all they have is a strain of varroa which breeds at a slower rate. Darwin's theories work on the parasite as well as the host.
 

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