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Author Topic: Feral "mite bomb" blows up my apiary  (Read 625 times)

Offline FloridaGardener

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Feral "mite bomb" blows up my apiary
« on: April 19, 2019, 12:22:43 pm »
I'm treatment free.  I never had more than the occassional varroa in 2+ years - or so I think - b/c there's:
- a SBB with tray
- a solid plywood platform under the hives to view what comes out
- hi-res inspection photos (to see 'backpack mites' but not the ones underneath, of which there are more)
- used a captured swarm to start
- 1st year, allowed swarms for brood break but didn't get more than 10 lbs of honey.

But...
This year, I didn't want to take 5 bars from my big colony for a split, b/c I want high production.

And 12 days ago I brought feral bees in to "start" a new colony with brood from a good queen.  I did not think these tiny survivor feral bees were so infected, because their colony has been around for a few years.

I take a look at the apiary almost every day. Oh No! Yesterday there were varroa all over the platform! Eeek!

1. I swept 'em all up with a wet broom and flushed the mitey water down the toilet (yes, I did not want them to survive elsewhere in the outdoors).

2. Last night I built a nuc box to put the Q in, to make a brood break. Big wind/rainstorm last night.

3. This morning there are pupae all over the platform under the hive.  And dozens more varroa! ! Bees are cleaning house though - good!

4. As soon as it stops raining this morning I will take out the Q and I'm going to do an organic powdered-sugar shake on the nuc and the newly Q-less "brood break" hive.  IDK if it helps, but it just might make me feel better.

5.  Then I'll go through the feral bee/capped Q cell hive.

What else can I do? I'm panicking.  I've never cut and thrown away drone comb.  I read that drones are good and keep the colony even-tempered.  I'm foundationless, so it would be easy to just carve away capped drones.

Tips? Thoughts? Calling all treatment free experts? Thank you ! !


Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Feral "mite bomb" blows up my apiary
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2019, 06:14:56 pm »
Pupae and mites :(

Offline Acebird

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Re: Feral "mite bomb" blows up my apiary
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2019, 09:05:35 am »
I suppose it is obvious now but if you have an otherwise treatment free apiary do not introduce anything foreign to the apiary.  Keep two separate apiaries.  Introduce treatment free hives to the feral apiary one at a time.  You can use queens from the feral hives but not the whole hive.  It would be different if you started your apiary with feral stock.
Brian Cardinal
Just do it

Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Feral "mite bomb" blows up my apiary
« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2019, 10:58:18 am »
These photos are for anyone who doesn't believe in Varroa Sensitive Hygiene behavior. I totally cleaned up yesterday, and the day before, so this is the new haul-out from this morning.

Credit for these VSH bees goes to Michael Bush, BTW.

If I ever need a Q again (which I hope I don't), I'll never buy one anywhere else. 

Offline TheHoneyPump

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Re: Feral "mite bomb" blows up my apiary
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2019, 12:13:29 pm »
I am interpreting those pictures differently.

All that I see is drone pupae which have been tossed out by a hive that does not currently want the drain and strain of feeding and caring for drones. This change is common to see at any hive throughout the year. It is nothing to panic about and is not really a trigger for anything. Generally the cause is the status of the hive in terms of overall strength in numbers, strength in brood quantity and pattern, amount of resources stored in the hive, and amount of forage available (dearth vs flow).

Please confirm which hive(s) this is under. The new feral hive introduced or an established hive. At this time it is assumed those pupae are from the frame of brood you gave the new hive of the feral bee source. It is most probable that they just are not feeling strong enough for all that drone in the brood you gave them and do not want it. So they are tossing them. Or you gave a small cluster too much brood to look after so they are cleaning out the chilled/dead brood from the periphery of the cluster.

We can not ever infer nor competently speak of mites or no mites, treatment or no treatment, treatment options, VHS or otherwise .... without seeing the numbers from alcohol wash samples from each hive before and after any action taken.

PS:  Bees clean house and take out the trash constantly. Especially right after being put in new2them used equipment or after population bursts (emerged brood) as they expand onto other combs that need attention. It is good practice to look at the trash as an indicator of possible problems. However, often the trash is just that - trash. You cannot conclude with any certainty what is going on with respect to pests, disease, pathogens affecting the hive without thorough inspection and sampling. Kind of like standing there looking at a pool of standing water and saying whether it is safe to drink or how deep it is without testing somehow.

imho
Hope that helps!
...
« Last Edit: June 12, 2019, 12:23:32 pm by TheHoneyPump »
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Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Feral "mite bomb" blows up my apiary
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2019, 05:36:24 pm »
Well, HP, I have to agree it's impossible to know for certain what precipitated the cleanup of mite-infested pupae.  After all, even people don't ever completely know what's going on with their own health, despite diagnostics and communication.

Those pics were taken under a full, non-feral TBH. Bee volume in there varies from a few to 20+ bars, at which point they go swarmy.  That colony is split up now. 

Yes, I'm an optimist, and I do hope the girls are good mite-biters.  Seven weeks after, post-brood break & hive splits, there are just a few mites on sticky papers under the SBBs.  But I used to see none, over the last 2 years...although dropped mites could've been eaten by lizards or ants.

Now, I'm no longer seeing red varroa mites on plant leaves in the garden as I did last month.  Actually I'd never seen any varroa away from bees, until the ferals got here. 

I didn't cull drones. I did do powdered-sugar puffs on inspection days (~10 days because of time of year, but not always breaking open brood nest).  And there's loads of good forage, good variety, good propolis resources.

Today the temp was good to check all the brood. Everything's beautiful, none of the Qs are laying drones right now, and they're busy making more bees.  And they lived happily ever after, I hope.

Offline Live Oak

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Re: Feral "mite bomb" blows up my apiary
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2019, 08:23:58 pm »
FloridaGardener, is your goal and absolute position to be treatement free or chemical free? 

Offline FloridaGardener

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Re: Feral "mite bomb" blows up my apiary
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2019, 03:29:38 pm »
@ LiveOak.  Hmm. Are you asking if there are mechanical controls (SBB/powdered sugar/foundationless) v. absolute non-interference? If so, then yes.

If you're going to suggest heat treatment for mites, it's possible our weather may've impacted my previous lack of mites. I've helped a fellow beek having dozens of hives; he has no mite problems, SBBs 100% open, situated in coastal pine forest, all wildflower (no suburban) forage. Is heat killing his mites? Maybe. When see his bees, I don't see mites. They beard like crazy when there's no flow.

Right now it's mid June, normal weather.  My weather app reports when temps are in the 90's, the 'feels-like' is 100-105.  My car temp gauge reads 100-110 midday, also. Using a laser thermometer today, our concrete drive measures 112F at noon, and the plywood platform under the hives 107F.  A friend who repairs roofs says his temp gauge regularly reads 130 on rooftops (his team cycles off to a cooling tent for safety & hydration).
 
After June are the long months of Fiery July, Broiling August, and Ain't-we-done-with-Summer-yet September. October is when we're finally in the lovely 'feels like' 80-85 degree range. Winters are bliss. 

Even tho my girls have UV-block shade sails over them, and they thermo-regulate, they may be bearing some higher-than 93 degree temps. They're humming when it's hot.  As I perceive it, the queens have stopped laying in a bad heat wave (polished cells in brood nest, but no eggs or tiny larvae).   

Perhaps it's possible that to cook varroa, all I've got to do it move hives into full sun, and pull off the outer cover for a day. Unless that would make all the foundationless wax will melt.   :oops:

Offline Live Oak

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Re: Feral "mite bomb" blows up my apiary
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2019, 12:21:23 pm »
Unless you add enough heat to overwhelm the hives ability to cool the hive, the hive will maintain a significantly lower temperature than ambient temperature when the temperatures outside are well in to the 100's.  The temperatures in the upper brood box may get to 100 -101 but only during peak heat hours during the day.  I have Broodminder kits on 9 or my hives and this is about the highest temperature they have recorded with the exception of a hive that was being treated with the Mighty Mite Killer which achieved 107 degrees for a few hours during treatment.  This is the temperature that must be reached to kill reproductive varroa mites under the brood cappings which is where the vast majority of varroa mites reside this time of year.