Measure the Varroa level spring and late summer, maybe more

The summer has been filled with work despite bad weather. However, the queen breeding has worked well. But despite the cooperation with Radim, it has taken a lot of time. Demand for queens has increased. It has meant more work. I hope queen buyers are aware of how much time it takes to produce queens.

The blogs have been suffering. I havn’t had time to share experiences as I had wanted, but now the bees are soon ready for winter, which should mean more time at the computer.

 Easycheck Bee Shaker

The value of measuring the Varroa level

Patrick Sellman called me yesterday September 3 and shared experiences from a course he had had for beginners that day. He has held several courses this summer on managing top bar hives (TBH). There measuring the Varroa level with alcohol wash with the Bee Shaker is an important part. Treating with Thymol against varroa when needed is also what he teaches.

This course was held in an apiary with 5 TBH. Most of these had been made with bees from frame hives treated against Varroa the previous year. One was a split from a TBH, which was also treated the previous year. The apiary is located almost 3km from other bees

Not a single mite appeared in the shaking jar from any of the colonies! The Bee Shaker has always shown mites in different amounts during all other courses Patrick has held. He took at least 300 bees from each colony from the outer lists. To test the test he took a test of almost 400 bees from one of the inner lists from one of the colonies. Zero mites again. He even tested the alcohol and replaced the alcohol with another type for one of the samples of 300 bees. – no mites. A total of about 2000 bees without any mites.

 Counting mites at the bottom of the Bee Shaker


The value of enough distance to other bees

We discussed for the reasons for the lack of mites. Only one elgon bees, from Thomas Dahl, ie bees selected for Varroersistens a little more than the others. We concluded:

  1. Sufficiently far from other bees to prevent reinvasion from others’ bees through mainly quiet robbing by your bees during nectar droughts.
  2. The colonies were small in the beginning with less brood than larger colonies. Less with brood gives less amount of brood hormones that trigger mites to return to new brood cells for reproduction. This means the mites will spend longer time on bees before entering a new brood cell. This results in a slower growth rate for the mites.
  3. The bees built their combs without wax foundation. They made different cell sizes depending on the place of and distance to the entrance. They arranged their homes without much disturbance from the beekeeper.
  4. The entrance is usually significantly smaller than in frame hives, easier to defend against bees from other colonies, when they try to sneak in and steal honey.

Due to the alcohol tests, none of these 5 colonies were exposed to unnecessary strains of miticides this year. Next year’s Bee Shaker tests will show when or if Varroa treatment will be needed.

The latest version of the Bee Shaker is Easycheck, which you can read more about here:

Additional info:

Patrick Sellman have commented om my Swedish blog that actually three colonies had elgon bees from Thomas Dahl. The other two were Buckfasts. This means is a majority of the bees were at least somewhat selected for varroa resistance. Which also means that they contributed at least somewhat in resistance for the Buckfasts as well as bees do drift in an apiary.