My bees are seemingly doing very well. I’ve been very diligent this year treating for Varroa. Most recently, I used Randy Oliver’s glycerin, oxalic acid, water, and shop towel concoction. I did the mite counts September 4, subsampling a total of 10 hives.
The mite count, in order: 0, 1, 1, 5, 4, 9, 5, 3, 86, 8
I did a very poor job of keeping the sample size down to 300 bees, sometimes maybe double that, so the infestation rate may not be as bad as it looks. I used powdered sugar, sampling the nurse bees only. I definitely have a burgeoning Varroa problem that I will need to address again. I’m a little disappointed that the glycerin/oxalic acid shop towels didn’t work better. But I’m still tremendously appreciative that Randy Oliver put this information out there and realize that the glycerin/oxalic acid shop towels are a work in progress.
The zero count hive was a late swarm, and I treated it with an oxalic acid dribble not too long after it arrived before brood was capped. The 86 count hive is configured as two deeps and a western on top. The frames in the western were coalesced from other hives that had brood in their honey supers. Most of my hives are double deeps, and I generally applied three half shop towels between the brood boxes. I suspect that maybe for larger hives, for example, three deep brood box hives (which I have a few), an extra layer of three half shop towels should be added. I look forward to more feedback from Randy Oliver, and to the day I never have to use Amitraz again.
I’ve already done most of the fall feeding for the few light hives. It seems, if you do a lot of feeding in late September or early October, the syrup they store can have too much moisture. So I’m doing it now while it is still hot and dry.
I have seen small hive beetles numerous times this summer in various locations—in the honey house, within hives, and inside division board feeders inside hives. My bees did not go to Cali this past year, so these beetles either survived in my hives or were introduced by the numerous large commercial beekeepers who keep bees periodically in the area. Undoubtably, beetles are being dispersed. And I said it before, at last year’s fall conference when the audience was asked if they had seen any small hive beetles, I saw more hands raise than ever. What was most disturbing to me was the beetle larvae (plural, dozens) feeding inside the division board feeders.
I want to share what I have learned about division board feeders. In the past, I’ve fed the bees at times (in the spring typically) with a supersaturated sugar solution. Sometimes it is more of a solid than a solution. I’ve found two division board feeders now that have had this film of supersaturated sugar at the bottom, typically also covered in hive detritus or parts of broken comb (comb added to prevent drowning, a ladder for the bees) that were infested with SHB larvae. I won’t be creating dinner bells like this anymore for the SHB.
I think the prevalence of SHB in my hives is extremely low or nonexistent in most. Today you could open and look through every single one of my hives—and I’ve opened and looked in quite a few recently while feeding—and not see a single SHB. My hives look great. But, I did just order 10 “Beetle Blasters” to use for sampling purposes to verify that the incidence of beetles is as low as I think it is. I think it is important that I share this information so people are not caught unaware.
Incidentally, I fed bees, too, when I sampled, and I never saw a single SHB.