Our Varroa mite plan this season

This was a question posted in by one of our readers, Sophie asks:-

How can a New Zealand beekeeper keep their bees alive every year?

Well this is a good question, over recent times bee-keepers are having trouble keeping bees alive. Due to Varroa mites and pesticides in the environment. Last year our plan failed resulting a loss of all our hives.

Our plan this year is going to do the following, it’s hard to follow a plan unless you have one :).

Location
Keep bees elevated at least 12 inches from the ground. To reduce splash up from the Waitakere rains.

We moved our apiary to a sunnier spot, under tree cover just doesn’t work over winter in the Waitakere ranges we have discovered.

Early Spring

Treat bees with API life Var. An organic treatment that we are trying out this year.

Spring

Split hives – this disrupts the mites breeding cycle and increases the colonies chance of success.

Throughout the season Spring through to Autumn

Use drone brood management frames, removing every 24 days (if mites are present in brood).

Use screened bottom boards to reduce and monitor mites. Having a Screened bottom can remove up to 25% of the mites, it also allow you to do mite counts.

Check for mites at least every month, using a inspection tray in our mesh boards.

Use sugar shaking on each inspection (If mites located).

Autumn after honey supers removed – treat hives with Oxalic acid. We have not tried this, so will need to research this further. Have you had any success with Oxalic acid?

What are you planning this year?, make a plan and stick it on your wall. Maybe even share your plan here. It would be great to see what others have planned, so we can all learn.

Thanks for reading…Gary

About Gary Fawcett

Gary enjoys designing new kiwimana products which we sell through our on-line shop. He is passionate about saving the Bees and encouraging urban beekeeping. Gary loves to write about issues that affect the Bees and our environment. He is also into tramping/walking in the beautiful New Zealand bush.

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9 Responses to Our Varroa mite plan this season

  1. Wendy Pettersen says:

    Hi Margaret and Gary,

    A timely varroa plan. I have noticed a marked increase in varroa on my base boards and have been considering removing all honey and treating my bees now. They had a spring treatment of Thymovar. I thought that an Apistan or Apivar might be appropriate. I also thought about the use of food grade mineral oil. I can’t find my notes on the recipe an was considering equal quantities of mineral oil and honey and wax. What would you do?

    Regards
    Wendy

  2. Gary says:

    Hi Wendy,

    Yes thats sounds like a good idea to remove the honey and treat, personally we are trying Apilife Var. But yes treat them with what works for your bees.

    Just make sure that bees still have room to expand when you remove the honey supers. Do you use one or two brood boxes?

    Did you see the presentation from the Anne Hulme at the conference regarding food grade mineral oil and honey, I have the hand out if you are keen to try it.

    See ya…Gary

  3. Emily says:

    Hi Gary,

    I did oxalic acid a couple of weeks ago. We find it very successful here in England. After treating the monitoring board is often covered in hundreds of mites.

    Autumn sounds early to do the treatment. Here we do it in midwinter, when there is no or very little brood. This is because the acid does not harm mites in brood cells, so for maximum efficiency you want the mites all on the adult bees.

    • Gary says:

      Thanks Emily, yes I need to look into this more. This issue in New Zealand is that we never don’t have brood in a hive.

      So not sure how effective this will be, will have to see if anyone here has tried it.

      See ya…Gary

  4. John says:

    Just starting out with bees so very interested in your plan. Came across this http://www.beesource.com/forums/showthread.php?222737-reaction-to-api-life-var . which may be relevent. All the best in your endevours.
    Regards
    John

  5. Caroline says:

    Split hives – this disrupts the mites breeding cycle and increases the colonies chance of success.

    Hi Gary – have you proof of this?

    • Gary Fawcett says:

      Hi Caroline,

      Thanks for the feedback.

      Well only from what we have observed in our bee yards, we must try an experiment next season and do mites counts before and after splitting to observe the difference in numbers.

      Gary

  6. Gary Fawcett says:

    Hi Caroline,

    I just remembered where I read about the split hives method, it was in Ross Conroads books and Kevin Inglin from the BK Corner Podcast has just released a recording of one of his talks where he discusses this, have a listen here:- http://www.bkcorner.org/audio/BKCORNER_episode-038_02-22-2013.mp3

    Thanks…Gary

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