THE BEEYARD REPORT
The mite population in our yards has taken a
huge jump. Even the yards that tested low in mid September are
getting up into the 10-12% range. I knew early on that I was going
to have trouble in four or five yards. I was getting forty to
fifty on the ether rolls. It was too hot for Miteaway so I used
some Checkmite strips I had left. Three weeks later, I found they
hadn’t worked. The mite load had actually gone up. We did
some creative things and the bees still look good but I don’t
give them much chance to survive.
We got the honey cleaned off all our yards during
the first week in October. Now, it was a race to kill mites. I
had purchased 500 Miteaway pads but we have put out less than
150. It was too hot to use them in early October. Then, daytime
highs dropped below 50 degrees. Formic pads don’t work below
that temperature. Compounding our problem was the fact that a
lot of our colonies were very light. Formic acid pads push the
bees down for the first week or so. The bees won’t go around
the pads to get to the syrup buckets. I didn’t have time
I had one yard where I really needed to use
the pads so we put in division board feeders so the bees wouldn’t
have to go around the acid pads. I considered open feeding in
barrels but that doesn’t work at low temps. What we finally
did was give Miteaway pads to the colonies that were fairly heavy
and shot oxalic acid on the rest. The ones that got oxalic were
given feeder buckets. Do we want them to die from mites or stave
to death? It was a tossup in my mind.
The oxalic acid knocks down some of the mites.
We have yards that were testing in the 25 range that are down
around ten. This is only a knockdown treatment. It has no effect
on mites in the brood. I was forced to use this in colonies that
had brood and it didn’t seem to hurt anything. When they
were broodless, I went back and gave them another dose.
No matter how much testing we do, something always jumps up to
bite us. I had done several ether rolls in one of my yards and
they were all in the single digits. I decided to wait until they
were broodless before treating. When we went to apply treatment,
about 25% of the colonies had crashed. The rest look good but
sometimes they test low on mites and look great but seem to die
for no logical reason.
I finally got back to the first yard I found
with the mega mites after three weeks. This was in the second
week of October. The oxalic acid had knocked them back but they
were still in the 25-30 range on a 300 bee sample. There were
still a lot of bees and the brood appeared to be good. There were
no perforated cappings or rotten larva. There was, however, some
deformed wing. I think these colonies are candidates to die in
March but I decided to try the formic acid pads just to see if
they would kill efficiently at this population level. The main
thing I have heard about formic acid is that it is a slow killer.
If mite population is building the acid doesn’t kill them
fast enough to hold the population down. We’ll see.
Acid pads are very expensive and also time consuming.
You need a spacer to make room for the pad and a couple of cross
bars to hold the pad up off the top bars. Alex can tell you all
about constructing these. He knocked out 300 of them. After you
install the spacer, you have to take the pad out of a plastic
bag before you install it. The bees will greet the installation
of the pad with a pronounced buzz. Don’t cut the blue tinted
bag that holds the actual pad. I did that on the first one. It’s
a bad deal. Remember that the hive is a fumigation chamber if
you are using these pads. Any holes or cracks need to be plugged
up. Red Green would have been proud of the job I did.
If your bees are in the back yard or somewhere
close to home, Miteaway pads would probably be fine. Driving around
the country with a truckload of spacers doesn’t appeal to
me. Going back to take the pads out if it gets over 80 degrees
appeals to me even less.
It is impossible to predict our winter loss
at this point. I don’t think it’s going to be catastrophic
but it is going to bite pretty hard. It’s hard to imagine
there is anything wrong when you go into the yards. Most of the
colonies have masses of bees boiling around the top bars. Then
we do the mite test and know we are sucking wind. Normal highs
for late October are in the 60’s. Temperatures in that range
make everything work. Temps may yet moderate but today is October
21st. We are on borrowed time from here on out.
Submitted by Phil Ebert