Malcolm’s Topical Tips – August

Below is the article I sent out last year to the Improver's Group. Hope it helps everyone. Malcolm 20th August 2016
Monitoring for varroa is something we all need to do now if we have not done so already
Below an inspection board showing a bad mite drop

malcims-varroa

If you have not done so already, you do need to monitor levels of varroa in your hives. This means that you need to add your inspection board and leave it in for about a week. You will thereby be monitoring the dead mite drop. In other words it is just an indication of the level of the Varroa that your bees are infested with.
If the dead mite drop is four or more a day, you then ought to do something to fight against the varroa. It probably won't be sufficient to use icing sugar, or a product like hive clean. You now need to use a soft chemical and I would recommend either Apiguard or ApiLifeVar. If you decide to use Apiguard, then you need any eke.. However ApiLifeVar, which consists of biscuits impregnated with thymol, does not need an eke. The treatment should go on as soon as possible because the temperatures are still high enough for the treatment to be effective. Be warned once temperatures drop regularly below 15° these treatments will be much less effective. Furthermore the inspection board should be left in the colony so that the vapours stay within the colony thereby encouraging the bees to remove the thymol from the tray. By doing so this will encourage cleaning and no doubt damages the tender mouthparts of the varroa mite, which is what you want to do.
With both Apiguard and ApiLifeVar treatment is started now and then a further dose of treatment is given in two weeks time. This is so as to cover a whole brood cycle. If you don't do this then you won't catch the emerging varroa from all the brood and you will still have a bad infestation as you go into winter.
The most important thing to do is to remove any honey supers as you do not wish them to become contaminated by the thymol. This does not matter in the brood box as you will not be extracting honey from the brood frames. A honey super can always be removed for a month and then put back on once the treatment has been done.
If your bees are carrying a heavy load of varroa you may see hundreds dropping onto the board if you go and look at the inspection board. This is no longer just the natural dead mite drop but all those extra mites that you are killing by using thymol. If you do see such a drop, be encouraged as you will be doing your bees a real service and enabling them to go into winter fighting fit.
After treatment I give my own bees half a pollen pattie (neopoll) the reasoning being that I want them to go into the winter as fat and well fed as possible. This is because a winter bee lives for up to five months and contains fat stores in her body. She is actually different from a summer bee; she lives so much longer and will have to cope in the new year with raising brood once again. She needs to be in tip top condition in Setember and October if you are to have a good working colony next year. Making the right decisions now will ensure colony survival and will make the likelihood of a good honey harvest next year so much more likely.
There are other treatments that can be applied now but I would not classify them as soft chemicals. MAQS is one. A word of warning, beekeepers in our association who have used it say that it kills all the brood. Only risk this if you have a very large colony ( at least seven frames of brood on 14*12 brood frames) and the colony is riddled with varroa. Probably not the case for most beginners.
I have spare Apiguard if anyone needs to purchase any.
Malcolm

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