Twenty-nine members attended the August meeting which focused on Bee Yard Chores of the month. First on the list was the perennial problem of Varroa. We know that every hive has these mites which feed on adults, larvae and pupae. A strong healthy hive ought to be able to manage its Varroa, but the beekeeper must monitor the level of Varroa to determine whether and how to treat.
Linda Nutt demonstrated for us the sugar roll method which she uses for Varroa count. She puts ½ cup of bees (approximately 300) in a wide-mouth quart canning jar and has found these to be ¾” deep, so she has a mark on her jar ¾” from the bottom for future use. Then she adds 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar, puts a #8 mesh on top of the jar and gently shakes the jar. Mites are so small they will fall through her mesh. She counts the mites and divides by 3 to find how many per hundred bees she has. This number is the % of mites – no more than 40 mites per hive is tolerable in a strong colony at this time of year.
We can also count mites (and get rid of some of them) by sprinkling the bees with powdered sugar. Because grocery store powdered sugar has corn starch in it (not good for the bees), we were encouraged to make our own by putting table sugar into the blender and finely grinding it. As the bees groom the sugar off, they will also pull off the mites which then fall to the bottom, onto a sticky board which traps them. Or use a screen bottom board to prevent them from climbing back into the hive.
One popular and cost-effective method of treating a hive for Varroa is formic acid (it also treats tracheal mites). Paul Carter has offered to demonstrate how to handle and administer this dangerous acid at next month’s meeting. Mites do not build up a resistance to formic acid, but some beekeepers prefer not to use any chemicals in their hives.
There are now available VHS Queens whose offspring are supposedly resistant to mites. The Penicks have just bought a second generation VHS Queen and will let us know how she does.
Another non-chemical control for Varroa is a drone frame on whose foundation are stamped only drone cells. Varroa prefer drone cells because these stay uncapped longer, giving the female Varroa more time to get in and lay her eggs. The frame is left in the hive until all the drone cells are capped and then it is removed and frozen to kill the Varroa.
Beekeepers who choose to use chemicals were urged NOT to use fluvalinate (Apistan) to which the mites are developing resistance, or coumaphos which affects brood production. And, of course, chemicals are never to be used during a honey flow or when a honey super is on the hive.
Robbing is also a very common problem at this time of year. Like Varroa, it is likely to be happening in every hive. We talked about conditions which encourage robbing. We have no control over the dearth, but WE CAN SEE TO IT that we keep our apiaries clean and our boxes bee tight, that we not feed sugar water, that we take care not to allow a hive to become weak or queenless and we refrain from unnecessary inspection. Robbing is underway when we see bees trying to get in at the top cover (using two weights should hold both sides down tight), fighting, large numbers of dead bees on the ground. Robber bees can spread disease. Some members have stopped robbing by spraying the bees with a mild solution of liquid smoke or with Bee-Go, or by using entrance reducers or an anti-robbing screen (sells for $16 but could be home-made).
Our meeting closed with reminders of upcoming events: The Cheatham County Fair, August 22-27, club meetings on Sept. 10, Oct. 8, Nov. 12 and our Christmas Party on December 10 at 1:00 PM at the newly rebuilt Riverview Restaurant in
. Ashland City
Notes about the Fair:
We need a volunteer to be with Junior Morrow on Tuesday August 23, 5-7 PM
We need a volunteer to be with Robert Henderson on Tues August 23, 7-9 PM
We need a volunteer to be with Junior Morrow on Wed August 24, 7-9 PM
We should use the
Bell Street gate – volunteers park inside there
Anyone in need of a volunteer pass can get one at our Bee Booth – just tell the ticket collector you will go inside to get your pass & return right away
Honey / wax products can be entered for judging on Sunday 2-5 or Mon 10-3
Anyone have an observation hive to show? Call Roger 428-5422 to let him know which day you plan to bring it
WE ARE GRATEFUL TO ALL WHO ARE WORKING TO SPREAD
THE KNOWLEDGE & LOVE OF HONEYBEES