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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
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Monday, October 02, 2006

The Varroa Mite - Up Close and Personal


After I did the sugar shake on Saturday afternoon, I cut two strips of poster board the size of the opening between the cinder blocks on which my hive rests. I smeared them with Vaseline and slid them under the SBB on the deck below the hives.

Here's how they looked when I pulled them out 24 hours later. The white stuff is powdered sugar. Also on the board you'll see pollen, some bee parts (a couple of legs) and our friendly Varroa mite.

I tried as hard as I could to take a good picture of the Varroa mite. My camera isn't good enough in close-up, but these two pictures are the best I have of the little creature. If you double click on the picture, it will open in its own window and you can see the little critter better. You'll see that he looks like a tick on a dog. Many of the ones on the board were moving and wiggling around.

I did the best count I could and found approximately 83 mites in the Destin hive sheet and 94 in the Bermuda sheet. It was hard to count. Next time I plan to mark a grid on the poster board to make the counting easier.

The Beemaster discussion board suggests a sugar shake like I did once every 10 days. That serves to keep up with the ongoing hatching and attaching of the new mites. I can't do it at that rate because I work and get home too late to do it during the week. My only open-the-hive time is on the weekends. My mentors on the forum suggested that for a while I do a once a week sugar shake.

I am convinced by this that I should start reducing my cell size next year if my hives survive the winter. Bees raised on smaller comb hatch quicker which lowers the possibility of the mites growing to adulthood in the larvae. I've read some about this on Michael Bush's wonderfully informative web site.

The people who determined the importance of this method of keeping bees are the Lusbys. Dee Lusby has given talks about this and written about it as well .

So I will be shaking sugar and my bees will be exceptionally clean until we stop all of this for winter and I hope my efforts will pay off with bees still alive next year. Posted by Picasa

2 comments:

  1. Hello Linda and welcome to the wonderful world of Beekeeping. I'm Richard and in My 3rd year, I went from 1 hive, to 4 the second year to 18, yes 18 this year. I'm in New England, just bought a place in NH, moved from Mass. I learned to do mite tests a bit differant. All hives have mites, it's just a precentage issue. 10% or less is acceptable and a stronger hive will fight them off really well. I use a canning jar, quart one, about 1/2 full of bee's with a screen lid on it, like they used in the old started fuild test that killed the bee's & the mites, BUT I use sugar, like you do to dust the bee's and I shake the mites and sugar out onto a board and count them. The jar holds about 300 bee's at 1/2 full, so you can get a percentage of the bees that have mites. If found to be a little hi, I put in paddies make with shortinging, sugar and pepermint oil, the bee's eat it and the shorting kills the V mites you can see and the pepermint oil kills the T-mites you can't see. I do this spring and fall, before and after the honey flows. if done during, the honey comes out minty.
    Well I'll stop being so long winded. I look forward to reading more about you and your bees.
    TTFN
    Richard & PupSter
    Black Cat Honey

    ReplyDelete
  2. Foreststalker7:26 AM

    Hey Richard do you have a recipe for your patty?

    ReplyDelete

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