Brood Trapping Varroa Management

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Hi Sibylle,

I would not do it twice in a row, maybe, if the colony is very much affected, do it once in late spring ( but it could start swarm urge) and once in middle of July ( which is the important one, after setting the queen free she breeds the nurse bees for the winter bees).

Always think of your season and that the winter bees must be healthy and good cared for.

And consider the time until new bees hatch, if you break the cycle twice in a row you weaken the colony to a high degree and get no honey. Only old bees left which will have a hard time to care for young brood.

Might be worse than the mites.

I see, that makes sense.  Since I'm not sure about the exact timing for my area, I'm thinking about doing the procedure on slightly different dates for different colonies, maybe a week or two apart, so that I see which date ends up being the best.


If you need to do more than that one action with the trap frame consider a sugar powder shake of whole hive to get rid of more phoretic mites.

This triggers grooming too and is quite gentle on the bees.

What a good idea!  I wouldn't have thought to do that.  I used to treat my hives with powered sugar, but alone it wasn't strong enough to control the mites.  However, in combination with the trapping frame, since the hive would be broodless, that sounds like it might be very successful.


Consider again about that. If you take out all drone brood the mites are drawn into worker brood which means that they adapt to smaller cell size and might prefer worker brood in future. And diseased worker brood is much more a problem than diseased drones, which will go out and die, the circle of mite multiplying staying mostly in the drone areas until late summer, when the drones are expelled.

This is very interesting to me.  I have never heard of this line of thinking before, and it's rather contradictory to the tactic of removing drone brood that I've always heard about.  What you are describing makes good sense to me, but so does removing the drones, since the mites tend to breed more in the drone brood.  Hmmm. . . .  Maybe I'll try removing the drone brood in some of my hives and leaving it in others and see which hives do better.


A solution might be to have one drone frames in the hive, of which you take out one in spring after mating, freeze, shake out the pupa ( repeating speech above because we had some technical mail problems)

I actually use no foundation at all in my hives, so my bees already build drone comb wherever they want and however much they want.  After my spring queens from splits are mated, I have been cutting out any large chunks of capped drones I find.  I usually don't cut out absolutely all of it though, since there are often small sections that just don't seem worth it.  I'm also not overly rigorous about it; I don't keep track of when the drones are scheduled to be capped and then take them out or anything like that, I just remove the capped sections when I see them.  It sounds to me like maybe I'm already doing much of what you are describing, I just sometimes cut out some of my capped drones.  Would you agree?   


Another thought:

To find out about resistance you need a monitoring schedule. Mine will be counting mites on the board and watching for deformed bees.

If I see more than three defect bees and more than 30 mites a day on the varroa board I will take action which means trap comb.

This is my threshold, but you have to find your own, it changes from location to location.

A sugar powder shake of the whole hive will give you a picture of the situation, 1/3 of mites are shaken down. This can be of help if you don?t know exactly what to do or if you have no varroa board. I don?t like to kill bees with alcohol shake and I believe alcohol shake to be inaccurate because most beekeepers use bees from honey supers above the excluder, not to kill the queen. But the phoretic mites are mostly on the nurse bees which means you need to find the queen not to endanger her.

So to make an alcohol shake with bees who store honey might give you a total different result than to make it with nurse bees.

I absolutely agree.  I learned this lesson the hard way in my first year when I lost one of my two hives to mites since I hadn't been doing a good job checking for them.  I normally check for mites using the "sugar roll" technique, which is similar to an alcohol wash, but I use powdered sugar instead of alcohol so I don't kill the bees.  I agree it's very important to use bees from the brood nest to get accurate numbers, and I have few enough hives that I have the time to find the queen when I want to do a mite check.  On the recommendation of a friend, I multiply the number of mites in the roll by 1.3 to help compensate for the fact that the sugar roll is less accurate than an alcohol wash.  I then calculate the mite/bee ratio from the sugar roll as a percentage.  5% is my usually treatment threshold, although depending on other factors like deformed or greasy-looking bees, I sometimes treat at 3%.


I plan to construct a trapping frame by using plastic queen excluders, they are easy to form into a ?bag? which you can reuse later.

I've been talking with my sister about constructing a trapping frame as well.  She's much more creative and handy than me.  We were talking about using 1/5 in. (.5 cm) hardware cloth to do as you said, sort of encase the frame in the wire.  Using actual plastic queen excluder material would be more reliable though, but we couldn't seem to figure out a way to temporarily attach it to the frame.  Would you mind describing further your plan for making the frame?  Perhaps you could send me a picture of it when you get it finished?

I agree with you wholeheartily 😄
If you want to trap, treat and monitor all at the same time, just sugarpowder the whole hive and sieve the sugar in water so you can see the mites. It?s approximately one third of the phoretic mites you will find.
Good evaluation then and a treatment at the same time.
If you sugarshake the whole hive every second day for ten days your results will be such that you shake off many more mites because in that time the bees with mites hatch.
Right now I cannot construct a trap frame because we move to live in Sweden.
I gave my bees to a friend and my 3 Swedish colonies are still cared for by my mentor (resistant bees breeder) until I can take over. Everything is packed up and I have no time, we modernize a little farm.
I will use plastic queen excluder which is fixed on one side to the frame. Then I will bend around the plastic to the other side by using a hairdryer so it gets soft and fix it with srews on the other side, leaving a bag around the comb on which top I can let the queen bee go in.
Something like that.
Or maybe, much easier to do, just construct a queen excluder frame used like a divider and putting it next to brood,
like that:
Comb-comb-comb-brood-brood-brood-brood-.....-excluder-comb with queen- box side.
Even better to have two of the excluder frames and brood and store comb to both sides.
The excluder frames must be like dividers.

Hope I got it all!
Again: much of it is my own personal evaluation, coming to conclusions after observing bee behavior for 6 years and starting with more or less resistant stock. More or less...watering stock by open matings.
Today I can say that commercial stock is not much different if you keep them in a natural way and the environment provides diversity, mostly different pollen. Pollen from different wildflowers give a health boost to all colonies.
And I believe now, that whatever queen you introduce, she needs to live to the next season to be evaluated, when the colony has adapted to local circumstances.
So it's probably a good thing to treat the first season after monitoring the threshold. No treatment necessary if they are under the threshold and no crawlers in sight.

meaning a queen purchased from some breeder.
Not one the bees rise themselves. The superceduring or home made split queen will show her potential immediately, good or bad.


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