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Winter pests and treatment

So this is my third year and third attempt at establishing a hive. Pests were managed - or so I thought. Suggestions are welcome.

First year I got a late start installed package of bees in late May, literally the last box sent out that year. I had hive beetles but assisted the bees and they drowned most of them in oil traps. Treated for mites in October with strips and left traditional honey frames in brood box for winter to let hive have their own food. As it turns out they never ate and bee patty I made and left for them and a ‘false spring’ had Queen laying early and hive exhausted themselves keeping eggs warm.

Ordered a nuke to replace that hive. They exploded on the drawn honeycomb. By August I had two brood boxes full of comb and flow super on top. The hive preferred to keep honey in brood box - not flow hives. I removed flow super for winter before treatment and fed overwinter (still ate honey - not the available bee patty) and this year they hive was abandoned in February. Mites appear to have discolored some frames and wax. A few ants are loitering but not invading the honey. So I cleaned them off and moved frames inside.

One website said I had to treat for mites again in December. I have not heard of this ‘scheduled cycle’ and thought you only treat what you know is a problem. Also,I tasted the honey (FANTASTIC) even though it had treated with strips. Is the honey waste? Can I give to my next hive? Burn it with frames? What?

Thoughts/advice

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Hello and welcome to the Flow forum! :blush:

Managed how? You say “strips” later in your post, but what kind? There is Apivar, MAQS and even homemade oxalic acid strips. Did you rotate treatments or just use one type? Did you do mite counts, if so, how? Alcohol wash, sugar roll or just “observation”? Not being snarky here, just trying to understand what you have already tried, so that we can give you improvements.

Sounds like it could ba a varroa overwinter loss, but you may find it helpful to read this article and compare it with what you found to see if you agree:
https://beeinformed.org/2016/03/08/why-did-my-honey-bees-die/

Mites leave white crystal deposits in the tops of the cells, but they don’t otherwise discolor the cells. If you are referring to the brown color in your photo, that looks like shellac staining from bee brood to me.

So if you have lots of time, you can do mite counts (sugar roll or alcohol wash is best) once a month and base your treatment on that. I did that for about 4 years, but I still lost colonies. So now I have switched to Randy Oliver’s cellulose sponge oxalic acid treatment twice per year. Randy is working with the EPA to get very easy treatments approved which will not develop resistance, and can be used even with the super on. The cellulose sponge is one of those, and I think it is brilliant. It worked fantastically for me for the last 6 months. Here is one discussion about it, but you can use the Search tool at the upper right (magnifying glass) to search for more on sponge oxalic acid:

Again, which strips? If MAQS (formic acid) it is safe for humans and bees. Other treatments may be dangerous for bees, and risky for humans, but that is your choice. :wink:

Hope that helps, but keep asking if you have more questions.

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Thanks for the thoughts!
To answer your questions-
Apivar strips, I was told to treat in fall no matter what because mites WILL happen. The strips make honey etc bad for humans so don’t treat with honey you eat on the hive.
Currently I do the sticky board method but don’t do it overwinter as trying to keep heat in and not disturb the hive unless required.
As new to all this having first hive die in early spring hard freeze it was bad. This year having second hive just leave (and not even give notice) is also hard. There were only 36 bee bodies in hive and all comb was empty of any stage brood and left full of honey.
???overuse apivar strips make honey bad for bees???

That is very inaccurate. Alcohol wash, sugar roll or OAV accelerated mite drop is much better.

Well, that is partly good advice, but you should not use just Apivar, because resistance will build to it. If you are also using MAQS, thymol or oxalic acid at other times of year, that is fine. If not, you are set up for a varroa wipe-out.

I still think that was a Varroa die-off. Even when it looks like they left, often it is Varroa. Please read the article that I linked above.

Overuse of Apivar makes honey and wax bad for bees and humans, but I don’t know if you actually overused it. I would not eat brood box honey myself, if Apivar strips had been in there. But I am picky. You might not be. I am not here to judge you. :wink: If the honey in the brood box had only been exposed to one season of Apivar strips (42 to 56 days total), I might give it to a new hive. If it was more days of exposure than that, I would toss it out. But as I said, I am picky… :blush:

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If I over used it and mites STILL killed them off - those are monster mites. I didn’t see any bee bodies inside like previous year. Also complete lack of brood suggests Queen had ‘issues’ in my new to this opinion

Well, that is your opinion, and you are entitled to it. But PLEASE read the article. It might save you some money on new colonies… :wink:

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Hi Scott, welcome and sorry for your struggles! You got a big boost of knowledge from Dawn, so I know once you have the time to read & let it percolate you’ll be off to a better start this year. @Martha is a fellow ‘Volunteer’ and could have some valuable guidance for you as well :wink:

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Hi @TennesseeBee, I use local bee keeping schedules for bee treatments and other deeds that need doing for the health of the hive. Most treatments are based upon the weather and cycles of the moth and hive beetle larvae. See what you can find for your area and find a well organized club for their treatment schedules. Tennessee Beekeepers Association

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