Hives that go bump in the mite

It is the time of year when beekeepers start thinking about winter, and whether the hives are strong enough to make it into spring. One key factor is the number of pesky mites in the hive, something I have been tracking since the end of July. This post chronicles my ongoing efforts to keep the little beasties under control.

We also dropped our youngest daughter at University in Massachusetts recently. I was on the lookout for bees, of course. ©Erik Brown

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Our Hives They Are a-Changin’

Aside from a single white morning this winter, we have had very little snow in Virginia. The weather is unusually warm and the bees seem to get a flying day once a week or so. I suspect the insect population will be robust this year, from small hive beetles to other assorted insects, due to our lack of cold weather. Soon the bees will start ramping up for spring, and I have been keeping an eye on the mite populations in Mars and Jupiter.

170202-graph

Average mite drop per day in Mars and Jupiter. The count spiked in early December after I applied an oxalic acid dribble.

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He that would have honey must endure the cackling of mites

My view of varroa mites and how to handle them has evolved this past year. I started out as a beekeeper not wanting to treat for mites. Then became a beekeeper who wasn’t worried about the mites because he had first year hives. Then finally a beekeeper who monitored for mites and treated during our warm winter. Around November 2015 I started recording the mite drop on my two Langstroth hives every few days. With the onset of spring weather I stopped (this past weekend), so it must be time to post some results. I also have some temperature readings from my BroodMinder devices to compare with this data. Continue reading

1001 Arabian Mites

Qunice

Our Quince blooming on December 26, 2015

This started as my official end of year hive update, so now it has become my official beginning of the year hive update. Happy 2016 to one and all. The hives are officially closed up until spring is on the horizon. With our mostly warm days of late, this might come sooner than expected. We had some bushes start to bloom, especially our two Quince bushes, though the weather turned decidedly cold this week so winter seems to have finally arrived. Continue reading

I mite bee crazy

My prior post You may bee right was never intended to have a sequel. Yet it elicited a somewhat critical response from a local beekeeper who was disappointed in my lack of mite checks. I know I’m supposed to check mites, but it takes time, and I didn’t know how, and its my first year I’m still trying to get comfortable with bees flying around my head. In any case, while the top bar hive was the one to suspect, everything I’ve read indicates that a new hive with new comb in a new spot is likely to survive the first winter. So it was that I set out to prove the criticism unfounded and myself correct. Hence, a sequel.

TBH Comb

A brood comb from Venus on Oct 12, 2015. The top part of this and other brood comb now has capped honey.

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