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I've been keeping this blog for all of my beekeeping years and I am beginning my 17th year of beekeeping in April 2022. Now there are more than 1300 posts on this blog. Please use the search bar below to search the blog for other posts on a subject in which you are interested. You can also click on the "label" at the end of a post and all posts with that label will show up. At the very bottom of this page is a list of all the labels I've used.

Even if you find one post on the subject, I've posted a lot on basic beekeeping skills like installing bees, harvesting honey, inspecting the hive, etc. so be sure to search for more once you've found a topic of interest to you. And watch the useful videos and slide shows on the sidebar. All of them have captions. Please share posts of interest via Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

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
Master Beekeeper Enjoy with me as I learn and grow as a beekeeper.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

Powdered Sugar and the Bees

Yesterday I did an inspection of all of my hives to make sure they have enough supplies for winter. I added a Ziploc feeder baggie to Persephone because that hive has been low on stores. I considered doing what a friend on Beemaster's Forum calls the Robin Hood principle: taking a full super from Bermuda and giving it to Persephone, but the drought and dearth being what they are in Georgia, I was hesitant to take any of the Bermuda bees' hard earned product away.

While I inspected, I did a powdered sugar shake on all but the nuc of bees who found me. Then I read this article by Randy Oliver and felt somewhat purposeless in my powdered sugar efforts. He says that powdered sugar really doesn't do much in the fight against the varroa mite and that mite-resistant bee development is the answer. However, he does say that a powdered sugar shake at this time of year, when there is little brood raising going on, may move varroa out of the hive for the winter.

Randy is a scientist and I respect his careful examination of beekeeping tenets. Here's what he said might be effective:
"Sugar dusting can be quite effective for
reducing the mite population in broodless (or nearly
broodless) bees, such as during summer dearths or in
winter (if the bees are not tightly clustered). It also
works quite well to drop mites from package bees,
shook bees, or swarms. Another use is to “clean up”
new nucs (best applied at day 7 after the queen begins
laying--just before the first brood begins to be sealed)."
----Randy Oliver

This is what a bee looks like up close and personal when a powdered sugar shake has occurred.

The powdered sugar clings to the hairs on their bodies and they groom themselves and each other to get it off.

In the grooming process, varroa mites are groomed off as well and fall through the screened bottom board to the ground below, hopefully never to return to the hive.

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  1. This is so educational.

    I found out recently why I am so fortunate to have honey bees in my flower garden all summer. There are FOUR feral hives reported within three miles of my garden! I'm so fortunate!

    My husband and I went over to our neighbor's house yesterday where he has two feral hives. The bees were swarming all around the tall silo (abandoned and not in use) at the old barn that still stands on our shared land here in our neighborhood. Couldn't figure that out.


  2. Aw, poor bees! They look so cute like that.

    Do you think you could change your feed settings to Full instead of Short so feed readers can pick up the whole post? That would be cool if you could.

  3. I tried to show my little one (who is almost ten) these photos. She is terrified of bees and I thought if I showed her the vulnerability (and something about them being coated in sugar!) they were seem less of a monsterosity and more of a creature that also needs to brush its hair and teeth as well.

  4. nice blog. The pictures are great, the links are sound and the video of Cleese and MR. Bean is hilarious. Have a great weekend. GB!!

  5. The powdered sugar covered bees is hilarious! I didn't know that bees groomed each other...

  6. so interesting. How come they don't recognise the mite as something to remove from each other anyway if they will mutually groom?

  7. Found your blog today on Blogs Of Note, it is so interesting. What a great skill to have. Love your blog


  9. so very nice! Really really informative!

  10. Bees have always scare me but your love for these little beings and the way you write about them gives me an entirely different perspective on them.

    Melania Szinger
    ...inspiring wealth into your life

  11. this is a real interesting blog, my grandmother used to have bees at the farm where she grew up. I always wondered what kind of work has to be done to keep them healthy and how you can extract the honey

    feel free to visit my blog (it's still under construction, I can say)

    thx for all the info, Dieter

  12. I loved the pictures of the sugar covered bees.
    I never knew that bees got mites before. I hope the sugar works for you!

  13. Anonymous4:11 PM

    nice work,

  14. My father used to be a migratory beekeeper for many years, and I had never heard of this being a way to deal with mites. Very interesting. Thank you for posting this. :-)

  15. Anonymous7:24 AM

    Hm on of our boardmates on imkerforum.de did try powering the bees and he means that it doesnt work very well.
    i was asking a very experienced beekeeper and she told me that it is a question of humidity and other nvironmental factors if sugar works or works not good.
    ok i didn't try that - i will use formic acid or oxalic acid (i hate doing this on my bees). do you count the varroa fall through the open hive bottom?

  16. Anonymous10:12 PM

    nice blog for sharing the knowledge of bees.


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