No burden at all, thank you for asking the questions.
I don’t like killing bees, so I use the University of Minnesota sugar roll test. I actually bought their gizmo device from a bee supplies store, but you don’t need to do that. Details of how to do the counts are here:
As @Dee said above, if you have a nucleus box, you might make life easier for the remaining bees to transfer them and the best frames of food into a 5 frame box for winter. If you don’t have one, I would reduce the hive down to one box with the best frames in it. The extra frames can be frozen for 48 hours (to kill off wax moth and SHB larvae and eggs), and then stored in hive boxes tightly wrapped top and bottom with burlap for winter, to avoid rodents and insects from getting to them.
Highly unlikely, unless you used MAQs (formic acid) on a hot day. That can really do a number on your bees.
I didn’t quite say that. I said remove the honey super. Especially if you are using Apivar. I think Apivar is actually 6 weeks, but it is some time since I used it and I don’t have a package here to check. I seem to remember that the maximum is 8 weeks for it.
However, it is much more convenient for me to treat with Oxalic Acid (OA) vapor, plus it is organic and a natural product (present in rhubarb, for example). If you need to treat with a super on, @Dee has described a method for removing the super for about 15 minutes, vaporizing OA, then putting the super back on. Strictly speaking, this is not approved by the EPA, and I haven’t tried it, but lots of people have.
The advantage of OA is low toxicity, it is present in plants and honey already and it works really well and very fast (much faster than Apivar). Even if you treat with brood present, you can get a full course done in 3 to 5 treatments over about 2-3 weeks. The disadvantage is that you have to buy about $150 of equipment to do it right, and you must avoid the vapor as it is highly irritant to eyes and lungs.
I do know of one, but it is entirely focussed on Natural Beekeeping, and all of this stuff I just told you about Varroa would be considered heresy… Nevertheless, you could still learn quite a bit about other things. It is run by Hilary Kearney (hi Hilary! ) of www.girlnextdoorhoney.com - she advertises it on her web site.
Please keep in touch, and let us know what you decide to do and how it works. I am rooting for you, hoping that all goes well and the bees pull through.