Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Time To Treat

Remember our sugar shake assessment? Well, our results showed that there were more mites than acceptable in the hive, so it is time to treat. There are a lots of treatments available for varroa mites.
Some are better than others, and some cannot be used at specific times of the year due to temperature or brood being present. They all have pros and cons, but its important to pick one and use it according to the label, to ensure that the bees can remain healthy. 

On August 2, I raced the distant rumbling storms and went into the hive only to put on their varroa treatment. It started to rain and rained for the rest of the day shortly after I was done, so I got lucky - bees are not fans of rain! Based on the time of year and temperatures, I chose to use Apivar, because it is fine to use when the temperature is hot and steamy! Apivar consists of plastic strips that contain the miticide. The strips are hung in between the frames of the hive and the bees walk over them, get the treatment on themselves, and transfer it from bee to bee. The treatment needs to stay in the hive for 42-56 days. This allows for all the bees to come in contact with it, AND for the brood to hatch and the mites that were hiding in there to come in contact with the treatment too.

Treatment options vary depending on the time of year and what's going on inside the hive. When you get a package of bees, they will arrive from the bee farm with mites, and pick up mites from bumping into other bees from different hives on flowers. As with all parasites, varroa mites are clever, and have found ways to adapt and thrive. As summer winds down and the bee population starts to get lower, the mites are experiencing a population explosion (pictured below in the graph). Though winter seems like it is far in the future, now is the time for beekeepers to start getting their bees healthy and ready to ride out the winter. Choosing not to treat is not fair to the bees or the greater community. As long as the directions on the label are followed, the treatments are safe. The bottom line is that the bees need to be treated so that they can continue to bee healthy, survive the winter, and bee good neighbors!


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