Varroa, winter opening up, and feeding.

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New Bee
Oct 7, 2009
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Any assistance to a novice would be helpful.
I have a single national that was well stocked up to autumn with bees and food. I treated twice for varroa and installed a removable floor board. On inspection recently there appears to be quite a few mites dropped down, is this normal throughout winter, and so late after treatment.
I have hefted recently and can't be sure if there is enough food. Should i put on fondant just in case?
The hive is quite exposed. Would it cause a lot of disruption to move to a less open location now?
Thanks for any help.
When did you treat for varroa and with what? If you used something like Apiguard you need to follow it up with a trickle of oxalic acid and syrup now.

As for the stores it would do no harm to give them fondant if you are unsure what stores they have.

Moving a hive by the 'three feet or three mile rule' Is OK. Moving intermediete distances is OK as long as there is no likelihood of flying for several days. Place a board against the hive so that exiting bees are made aware that things have changed, before they go and get lost.

Your info regarding varroa treatment is a little scant, as is the duration of the mite drop. Have they dropped or not?

If short of stores it would be prudent to supply more - or they may starve. This is likely to occur when brood rearing starts in the spring, if not before.

Regards, RAB
Varroa my results 09/10

Results from Oxalic Acid Treatment on 3 different Hives in Kent.
All fitted with OMF floors and inspection sheets.

1. WBC on Sheppey Treated on 14 Jan 10. Five seams of bees.
80 dead Varroa 15 Jan 10.
220 .. .. 16 Jan 10.
275 .. .. 17 Jan 10.
110 .. .. 18 Jan 10.
92 .. .. 19 Jan 10.
80 .. .. 20 Jan 10.
39 .. .. 21 Jan 10.
Total 896 Dead Varroa. Hive not treated with Apiguard in

2. WBC Wigmore Treated on 18 Jan 10. Seven seams of bees.
360 dead Varroa 19 Jan 10.
136 .. .. 20 Jan 10.
25 .. .. 21 Jan 10
Total 521 Dead Varroa. Hive not treated with Apiguard in

3. National Rainham Treated on 17 Jan 10. Five seams of bees.
181 dead Varroa 18 Jan 10.
48 .. .. 19 Jan 10.
14 .. .. 20 Jan 10.
9 .. .. 21 Jan 10.
Total 252 Dead Varroa. This Hive was treated with Apiguard
On 4th October 2009. (very late I know).

All Treatments were the same @6% Oxalic acid per seam,
(Purchased December 2009)

So I draw the conclusion from the above that conditions vary from Hive to Hive and place to place. The strongest hive at Wigmore should have had the largest numbers of Varroa.

The Rainham hive treated with Apiguard at the end of the season shows that it was worth treating. But it also highlights the fact that this treatment is not good enough on its own, as there must have been considerable build up of Varroa over the 3 months prior to Winter. Presumably in the brood that was capped during or after the Apiguard treatment.

I will carry out a similar test in 2010/2011 to compare these findings, and try and stick to similar dates from the above.

Any questions/comments about the above will be answered, but very busy preparing for the new season, so it might not be straight away.
Thanks for that Bob.

How old were the queens in each hive?
All this years Queens, bred by me of course.
All this years Queens, bred by me of course.
I think you meant to say last year's Queens Bob. It's a bit early yet for 2010 Queens, but nice to hear that you are thinking well ahead. :)

While useful information and might be the expected results, what with the long tail to the last autumn, etc.I would ask what other steps you took to control the varroa? What were the natural mite drops associated with these colony loadings? If, indeed, these were the only treatments to reduce the mite loading last season, why?

Your post indicates to me, and maybe a lot of the new beeks on the site, that all one needs to do is oxalic acid treatment once a year. I do not subscribe to that view by a long way, so perhaps you can tell us more, please?

What about the other five colonies? Posting of selective results, while useful mostly, may not show the whole picture and the truth may be slightly, or more, skewed by the results from other colonies.

Regards, RAB
o9o...whilst you might not subscribe to that view that's fine no one is asking you to. That's what i thought the forum is about to share views and ideas. Perhaps you need to chill out a bit ?

I know Bobbbees personally and although new to the forum he is an experienced beek with a great deal of knowledge and takes his beekeeping seriously. I don't think he would do/not do anything to jepordise his colonies knowingly or not. I think the purpose was to share his experience with others.

Also Bob may not post straight away as he says he is busy preparing for this year so but if you are nice enough and welcome him to the forum he might share is knowledge of queen raising with be nice!

EYNB - The Oxalic acid was probably bought from Blue Belle Apairies and is used on all his own colonies and as for years without any issues. Again what may work for some may not for others? Maybe?

Although i cannot be sure of the place of purchase you may wish to ask Bob to clarify oh and he has some really spectacular photos of queen raising! Maybe he may post a few?

Oxalic et-al

Sorry got carried away trying to reply quickly. Queens were from Last year 2009.
early spring, last year was fantastic for queen rearing, conditions must have been exactly right, at least in this area of the UK

East Yorks New Bee:
The above link gives advice from the BBKA about application and different suppliers. Even mentions the 6% solution.
Another source of the same product.
And Another.

But as Gandalf says I do get mine from Bluebell Hill Apiaries. (No postage)

Ok, yes your comments duly noted, no other treatment for Varroa was carried out apart from uncapping some Drone brood from time to time.
Although I saw some mites in these cells there is not much that can be done mid season except culling the Drone Cells.
Because last season I was completly involved with Queen breeding and creating 5 frame Nucs, (18 in all) now scattered far and wide, from Southampton to Sheppey.
So because of my activity breeding, this probably slows the reproductive cycle of the Varroa in some way, pehaps the movement of bees from hive to hive, shaken into Nucs, there are less older bees more nurse bees, I just dont know.
As to my other 5 hives they do not have OMF floors so they can't be monitored, they are all in an out Apiary.

Thanks for your comments.
I will PM you on Sunday.
All I was trying to do while I had the info to hand, was pass on what I had seen in my hives, hoping it would help someone to understand that treatment in any form does not always do what it says on the label.
Wow , you say there is not much that can be done mid season!

This is precicely the reason why I posted. This gives the new beeks the impression that OA is the perfect and only way to treat varroah.

Being as I got stick from your friend down the road I will make the following points:

There is risk using OA - it is well known it can slow spring development and affects bees - including the queens. The hive is disturbed mid-winter (usually a small risk).

I monitor all hives as necessary solid or OMF. I use a simple tray with wire gauze over (supplied by a well known company) for any solid floor (don't use them much now) and for the modified ones as well.

There are other things, potentially less damaging to the colony, that can be done - apiguard, apistan (resistance may be a problem), shook swarm, brood culling, brood trapping, icing sugar rolling, Thymol, formic acid, exo-mite and probably a few I have missed.

All are opportunities to control the varroa mite whenever appropriate. Only two of my colonies were deemed in line for oxalic this winter. The mite drops on the others are few and far between at the moment. I will not be checking the other two for some time now - nothing more I can do at this time of the year.

The main point I am making is: Do it if they need it. Otherwise why risk your colonies healthwise. Is it just so you don't need to do anything next season, except allowing them to build up again?

I do not need to 'chill out'. We just need all the reasons, facts, etc so that any new beeks can be aware of all the options, and risks - not just encouraged into thinking that oxalic is the only treatment necessary each year and is perfectly safe.

not just encouraged into thinking that oxalic is the only treatment necessary each year and is perfectly safe.


Errm excuse me has ANYONE said that Oxalic is the only treatment?
All I did was post results from MY findings this month on three of my hives, it worked for me in MY situation. And I will no doubt use the same or similar treatment again.
But having said that Oxalic acid as we know it today could still be banned from use in the UK.
Because they may ban anyone from cleaning timber with oxalic,because of course thats all its used for in the first place in beehives.
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But having said that Oxalic acid as we know it today could still be banned from use in the UK.

Is big brother going to stop all these processes as well as wood bleaching like Hivemaker says?

Oxalic Acid is used
- in removing tannin stains
- in removing rust in automotive shops and in restoring antiques
- in rust stain removal
- Those pre-treating stainless steel
- in preparing & polishing stones & marble
- by Fishermen lin maintaining wood on boats & quays
- as a purifying intermediate in pharmacy
- as a precipitator in rare earths processing

Have been looking for past half hour for the link, I just read recently about why I said that.
Still can't find the actual item. But I have found these other instances which gives me concern about us using this acid in the first place.
If I can find the item I will post it on here, under this same thread, promise.

BBKA Health research concepts. see page 9 of 62. (its on the main page of BBKA)

go to link... br it is hb
Not sure why i could not paste this link???
"Oxalic acid – what you need to know
In the light of recent articles in the bee press about the use of Oxalic acid, I have been asked to round-up
the situation to try to make the beekeepers position more understandable.
I cannot improve on the advice, regarding the legality of oxalic acid, given by Claire Waring in her article
“The 2006 Annual Bee Meeting”, BeeCraft, January 2007, pages 4-7 and I recommend that you read it
carefully. However, it appears that VMD will tolerate the use of oxalic acid as a ‘Hive cleanser’."
The bit I'm looking at is...
"regarding the legality of oxalic acid"
Any thoughts. Anyone?
They would find banning oxalic acid about as easy as banning oxygen,found naturally in hives anyway,but i still believe it does more harm than good pouring more of it over the bee's.
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What is the reason to ban oxalic acid It is verified, thati it will be so low, that the level of oxalic acid is not needed to follow


Résumé / Abstract
Varroa destructor, an ectoparasitic mite, is one of the major pests of honeybees in many parts of the world. In order to keep bee colonies alive and productive, effective biological, biotechnical, or acaricidal control measures are necessary. Oxalic acid is one substance under discussion to replace synthetic acaricides (e.g. pyrethroids, organophosphates) to minimize the risk of residues in bee products. The application of oxalic acid based solutions (Bienenwohl or a self-prepared oxalic acid solution with sugar) to control Varroa destructor resulted in no relevant changes in the oxalic acid content of honey produced the following year, compared with honey samples from untreated colonies from the same location. The range of oxalic acid content in honey was 5-68 mg/kg in oxalic acid treated and 5-65 mg/kg in untreated colonies. The oxalic acid content of the honey was positively correlated with its electrical conductivity and thus with its original nectar or honeydew source.


Honey may have oxalic acid 65 mg/ kg

Carrot has 5 000 mg/kg oxalic acid.

Lettuce has 3 300 mg/kg

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