Okay, break time is over!
I hope you had a meaningful off-season and feel refreshed.
I know it’s going to sound corny, but, once again this year, I have a New Year’s beekeeping resolution in place.
Last year, I promised myself that I would double down on the status of queens in our hives. Queen checking, queen evaluation, and queen replacement would be much more intensively conducted. I’m happy to report that I focused heavily on our queens in 2017!
For 2018, my beekeeping resolution is to focus upon, evaluate, and implement novel strategies for Varroa control. Dr. Brandon Hopkins from Washington State University woke me up with his presentation at the conference about caging queens to force a broodless period prior to mite treatments, something I had experimented with in 2002. Dr. Jennifer Han, also from WSU, had great news about Metarhizium as a biocontrol agent against Varroa. Very exciting!!
I am convinced that our industry, absent from such efforts, is losing the battle with Varroa.
Think for a moment about how we managed Varroa 25 years ago. We treated once in the fall.
Fifteen years ago, we found that we needed spring and fall treatment. Monitoring became a new labor-intensive way of life and revealed the need for mid-season treatment.
Today, from the many reports that I regularly receive and what I see, we are now in a period of constant treatment.
Take a moment and think about a graph starting with one fall treatment and now constant treatment. Where is the ray on the graph in 10 or 15 years from now? I don’t want to be alarmist, but my projection on the graph reveals NO BEES!
I have lost confidence in the idea of some “new treatment” just around the corner that will save the day, although I suppose I would welcome it. For now . . .
I applaud and am very grateful for others who are working with genetics in our queens.
My approach, my resolution, this year will be to focus on cultural methods that impact Varroa’s life cycle.
Let’s put our thinking caps on together in 2018 and safeguard our industry with new, novel, and unexpected methodologies for Varroa control.
I look forward to “think-tanking” ideas with you.
I hope your bees wintered well. Be well and work safe!