Varroa Counts The video for today’s episode show how and why I apply Mite Away II strips to control Varroa mites in Honey Bee Hive B. Varroa mites are the number one honey bee killer on earth. This is the first of a three part series that will document the placing of the strips and observations of their affects. The colony has come out of the long winter fairly strong and I got it completely ready for spring this past Sunday. It’s a good thing to observe since I lost Hive A in November of 2012. That loss was due to the Varroa destructor and I have been vigilant since watching for this creature and monitoring the damage it is capable of of. Because the winter was long and cold I was not always able to have a clear picture of what was going on with any possible Varroa infestation. I assumed they were keeping a low profile until spring. Well spring really spring on is here in northern Virginia. Last week the temperatures were in the 30’s and then this week they boosted up to the high 80’s. Along with the temps came the daffodils, tulip[s and dandelions all at once and I knew the bees would be active immediately. I also knew the Varroa destructor would be just as active.
During the spring cleaning of the hive on April 7 I pulled out a capped over drone larvae and noticed a red Varroa larvae incubating on it. I put the mite crop board under the screened bottom board and I added some spring time preps which you will see in another upcoming video. I topped off the hive with a feeder full of sugar water and essential oils. When I went to check the board on April 10 I had my son do the mite count because he has sharper eyes than I and he counted 27. That alerted to make the decision to put on the Mite Away II strips (Formic Acid).
There are a number of items I have in my Varroa control arsenal such as powdered sugar, Api-Life Var (Thymol), essential oils, paper towel strips soaked in mineral oil, drone brood frames, etc. However, the Formic Acid approach is one I have researched thoroughly thanks to Ros Conrad’s recording on The Beekeeper Corner’s Podcast episode 38 and a paper from North Carolina State University. I got some Mite Away II strips from BrushyMountainBeeFarm.com at the beginning of March but I didn’t think I would need them anytime soon.
Well the time was here to take action and I wanted to do so before the nectar flow got too advanced. The nice thing about the formic acid strips is that mites that are on capped over larvae will die to too without killing the larvae. Additionally, the honey being created by the bees won’t be harmed by the acid. Although I did understand that they would be an initial high count of bees dying from the acid. Those affected would mostly be new bees whose exoskeletons are not yet hard enough to survive the affects of the acid.
The video depicts my taking apart the hive and shows how to use Mite Away II for Varroa Mite Control. It is imperative that I use a mask to protect myself from the fumes which are toxic. I should have used different gloves as I didn’t anticipate how gooey the strips were but I will next time. The strips need to be in place for seven days and I removed the top hive feeder for this duration as well as any remaining pollen and grease patties. Stay tuned for for the follow up episodes to this one. That’s it for today now go and do something useful to keep Varroa mites in check.
Disclaimer: Neither this site or its owner are in anyway providing anything other than personal stories of what was required to plan and accomplish tasks for a personal to do list. No responsibility is to be attached to the owner or site for what you actually do with the information provided.
- How inaction caused the loss of Honey Bee Hive A in November 2012
- Mite Away II Quick Strips
- Mite Away II FAQ
- Mite Away II Application Information
- Mite drop count on 4/10 (25 after 72 hours before application) and 4/12 (27 after 24 hours after application)
- Ross Conrad on the use of Formic Acid for Varroa mite control
- Managing Varroa Mites in Honey Bee Colonies