This week the formic acid pads came off Veronica, and the sticky board came out. The board, cleaned and vaselined only a few days before, was coated with clumps of mites. I counted over 200 before I gave up. Some of the mites were still alive, scuttling across the board when I poked them with a stick. Ugh.
I do think the formic acid treatment has helped the bees. There are fewer crawling and dead bees on the ground outside the hive; we don’t know for certain that the girls had tracheal mites blocking
their little breathing passages—you need a dissecting microscope to check that—but crawling bees can be a symptom of
an infestation. Formic acid is supposed to help control tracheal mites as well as varroa. (The USDA has some pretty gruesome pictures of tracheal mites. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!)
And our Betty is getting stronger. When we open her hive to put the formic acid pads in, the frames are full of bees. There is a steady stream of bees at the entrance bringing pollen and nectar. After her last formic acid treatment we waited 6 days and then did a 48-hour natural mite fall. I counted 4 mites and one thing I couldn’t quite identify as a mite. Woo hoo! Those are good numbers.
Hopefully all this mite treatment will give the girls a leg up for the season. Spring is starting up in the Bay Area. I saw a honey bee at the flowering almond outside my kitchen window yesterday. The acacias are puffing out with yellow flowers. and ornamental plums lining the city streets are covered in pink blossoms. Seems like a good situation for a bee.