More mites

January 18, 2010 | By | Comments (3)

I’m sad to say that all is not well in Sunset’s apiary.

Kimberley emailed me this photo, saying, “BOO! (okay, I know it’s not Halloween, but this image scared me, and I’m the one who took it!  Close up of our sticky board after three
weeks-with formic acid in the hive.  YUCK!)”


Yes, those are varroa mites from Hive Veronica. Hundreds of them. We didn’t bother to count. Anyone that had eyes could see we’d slaughtered an army of the little nasties.

Last year we treated with formic acid twice, and we’ve lost track of how many times we applied Apiguard. And of course, there was the drone comb trapping and infernal sugar dusting every week.

This year we decided to forgo the Apiguard, and only treat with the formic acid when we needed to. And we’ve neglected the sugar dusting. We have felt like we’ve over treated the bees, and were taking a wait and see attitude.

But after a 24-hour mite count at Thanksgiving revealed multiple mites, and we’d started noticing some bees with deformed wings, we decided the time was right for the formic acid. And if we killed that many mites in three weeks, we’ve no doubt made a dent in their population. We’ll do a 24-hour mite count this week to see how the mites are faring.

At least Veronica still has bees in the hive. We’re not sure about Califia, in the top bar hive. We can’t see bees through the observation window. But there are bees coming and going, some with pollen. And when we opened her to briefly inspect, we found bees working on empty comb near the brood nest. We’re not sure; are they robbing the hive? Or could Califia still be alive in there, just biding her time before starting to lay eggs?

We’ll know for sure as soon as we get a warm day and can go into the hive.


  1. Janet

    Hi,we make the Country Rubes SBB you are using. Did you get to do the 24 hour count after using the formic acid? That was a lot of mites. August 15th is sort of the deadline for the first mite control if you are not using powdered sugar. We have an intense 3 week dusting in mid July, after we pull the blackberry honey. That lets us keep the thistle honey supers through September and when we pull the honey, the bees get dusted for another 3 weeks. We might do a dusting 2x a week if the mite load looks high. We’ve got at least one dusting a month all winter. We are coming into spring with hardly any mites and we got a bunch of brood. I’m doing splits this week.
    I know the powdered sugar gets old. Randy was telling our club about using one of the thymol products last August and I thought, ‘how easy’ and how busy we were. We actually went to his house and bought enough to treat our hives. While there, Randy told me how hard the thymol product was on the bees and really all the treatments are hard on the bees. We ended up bringing it back and sugared them.
    Anyways, hope your bees are doing good and that you found your queen in your top bar hive. On our SBB, you can see how large your brood is by putting the board in for a a few days and look at the brood pattern.
    Loved your article and blogs. Glad I found you.

    April 4, 2010 at 10:02 pm
  2. Margaret

    Karen, it would depend on the reason for the dieback.

    March 1, 2010 at 8:10 pm
  3. Karen Anne

    I’m not up to speed on colony dieback. Is it possible to prevent it with treatments?

    January 22, 2010 at 3:55 pm

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