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Varroa: treat or not?


#1

Matt,

Do you ever treat your hives for Varroa? Do you survey for mites? If you treat, how?

I have TBHs, one Warre from you, and one successful Langstroth with impenetrable brood boxes (tree branches, cross comb, no ‘man’s’ land…just for bees.

Thanks,

Daniel


#2

Daniel,

I don’t treat at all for mites. I don’t actively monitor for mites. I certainly see them, as well as signs of them (deformed wings, etc.). I just don’t do anything to intervene.

Best,

Matt


#3

Thanks, that’s what I thought. That has been my position as well, and has worked well so far, but that’s only for 3 years. About 1/2 of my hives survive the winter (on par with the nationwide survey), and swarms from those that survive replace the hives that didn’t make it.

I have been reading other sites (bad boy!), including HoneyBeeSuite, and then saw a reference to a New Zealand article that proclaims that one should monitor, and treat. Made me start to worry. With my hives, some of my luck could be from starting with so many new swarms, that the brood comb is pretty new, and hasn’t built up critical numbers of Varroa yet. But, you have many more hives than me, and have been at it longer, so I value your experience.

btw, any word on those Warre box connectors (different post, sorry!)

New Zealand article:

http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/files/pe … -guide.pdf


#4

Do you find that bees on foundation-less comb have less of a mite problem than those which are raised and build comb comb on foundation? what about ‘small cell’?


#5

We’ve had good success using natural swarms to populate hives; foundationless frames or top bars; and not treating. However, given that we don’t treat, we aren’t really checking for varroa either. All colonies have varroa.

Here are Michael Bush’s thoughts on both:

http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfoundationless.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnaturalcell.htm
http://www.bushfarms.com/beesnotreatments.htm


#7

To all concerned,
I know mite treatment is a personal preference BUT, the mites are the carriers of the diseases that kill and weaken the bee’s, “deformed wing, K-wing and such.” Once you see the disease your mites are rampant and are spreading to other hives through drifting, drone contact, flower sharing etc…
To be a responsible Beekeeper you need to manage your livestock. I wouldn’t let my dog run around with mange, which is caused by mites, and say oh well she’s not strong enough to fight it off. That’s crazy!!! If you own bee’s you have a responsibility to try to help them in some way, or you should find an new hobby or profession, and leave beekeeping to responsible people. I don’t want your mites on my bee’s, at least make an attempt to assist your livestock. If not for them, then for the people who are trying to keep their bee’s as mite free as possible until we can come up with a better solution. Just saying!!!
P.S. If your only in it for the honey then buy it off someone who cares for the future of the honey bee’s. Honey bee’s are a complex, extremely efficient organism that work in perfect harmony to insure their own survival. Not just our honey machine. Just My Personal Opinion!


#8

Here’s another perspective from Dr. David Heaf on the controversial subject of treatment!


#9

Do you ever treat your hives for Varroa?

No.

Do you survey for mites?

I don’t, but the University of Nebraska comes out and does it for the USDA APHIS project and I pay to get a health certificate from the state, so they inspect and count mites. Mine are never high.

If you treat, how?

I don’t.

I know mite treatment is a personal preference BUT, the mites are the carriers of the diseases that kill and weaken the bee’s, “deformed wing, K-wing and such.” Once you see the disease your mites are rampant and are spreading to other hives through drifting, drone contact, flower sharing etc…

Considering that there are probably millions of feral colonies in the trees, it seems irrelevant statistically. When you consider that the commercial beekeepers have sometimes 100,000 hives that are barely manages other than treating which swarm at least ones or twice a year and can’t survive without treatments, those are your mite bombs.

To be a responsible Beekeeper you need to manage your livestock. I wouldn’t let my dog run around with mange, which is caused by mites, and say oh well she’s not strong enough to fight it off.

Every colony in North America already has Varroa and DWV. How will you spread it to other colonies when they all already have it?

It’s interesting to note that in places that can’t afford to treat, Varroa are not a problem.

One more in addition to the ones Matt posted:
http://www.bushfarms.com/beessctheories.htm