Experience is a brutal teacher. But you learn, my God, do you learn.

-C.S. Lewis

Stream In January

Stream In January

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Varroa Mites

This morning I received a disturbing email from our county extension agent concerning varroa mites. One of the largest beekeepers in my county (Jackson) has reported losing several hives to varroa. She further stated that in speaking with Dr. David Tarpy, researcher at NC State University, he is verifying that, in pockets of NC, Apistan and Checkmite are no longer effective against mites as they have become resistant to the 2 chemicals contained in these products. For several years Dr. Tarpy has been suggesting alterate control measures for mites:


Unfortunately, varroa mites have become something we are all having to deal with. My mite levels have been low this season and I feel comfortable, right now, using the powdered sugar shake as treatment. I have several fellow beekeepers who are using Api Life Var with good success. Looking to the spring season, my plans are to have 2 TopBar hives with Russian stock. As stated in the paper, Russians are showing good resistance to varroa. I had also heard this from another source at a meeting I attended last week.

Unfortunately, I also learned yesterday, of another beekeeper in the area who had lost 7 hives to CCD. I dislike passing along bad news, but that's the reality of beekeeping right now. I wish we could all put our heads in the sand and it would go away, but unfortunately that's not going to happen. Hopefully, if we're diligent in caring for our bees in a more natural manner, we may begin to reverse the damage that's been done through the use, or misuse, of chemicals in the past.


PhilipH said...

This must be so worrying for you and all other 'beeks' ... this v.mite pest seems to be spreading far and wide.

I really hope you keep clear of them as much as possible Lynn.

Kind regards, Phil

Kat said...

Really sorry to hear your bad news. I cannot imagine after all the work of beekeeping that you lose hives. I sure hope that it turns out alright for you and your bees!

vicree said...

This is not good news! However, I am happy for you that your girls have, so far, been only minimally affected by the dratted pests. The sugar shake sounds like a good choice of treatment. Don't we wish that at times like these we could wave a Magic Wand and make all the mites go far, far away!

Anonymous said...

Greetings Lynn! Thanks for the post. I'm not hearing much around here about varroa mites, but I don't get the chance to talk to that many beeks in my county. I appreciate you sending along the news and I'll schedule another sugar shake when I open the hive, probably in a couple of weeks. How's everything else going?

Cliff W said...

Thanks for the link. What are the other characteristics of the Russian strain? Will you also persevere with your current strain of bee? I wonder what research has been done on combining the genetics of the Russian (with its varroa resistance) with other strains.

Lynn said...

Hello everyone. I'm still feeling pretty good about my hives for the winter. They look much stronger than last year at this time.

Cliff, I will continue with my current strain of bees. I hope with the lack of chemicals on these hives, they will develop some hygienic behavior, if they haven't already. Strong colonies should be able to tolerate some mites to be able to build resistance. I know my 2nd year hive has never had any chemical treatment because the original nuc from an organic beekeeper. Not sure about the second, but it was the one that showed almost zero mite count and will also be treated as naturally as possible.

I don't know much about the Russians, yet, but my friend who has 50 hives is having very good success with them. I will get my nucs from her in the spring. There was an article in Bee Culture, that I hope to get to read at a meeting on Thursday, that basically said Russians were blowing other bees out of the water in resistance to varroa with organic treatments. (I was at another meeting and didn't get a chance to read the whole article.)

Also just received The Barefoot Beekeeper. Since I'm very much the hand's off beekeeper, TopBar seems the logical choice for me. So much to learn and do this winter.