Urban beekeeping in New Mexico's largest city.
I have a couple of questions about mite testing and treating and decided to post them here--it seems to fit the topic of this discussion and maybe others have similar questions.
1) Regarding mite testing: How soon after installing a) a swarm and b) a package would you recommend doing the first mite test? (I realize that in both these scenarios there will be a brood break that will help reduce mite load.)
2) In the video you recommend testing about 4 X per year . . . what schedule do you (roughly) follow?
3) In terms of mite treatment: If you are testing in a single apiary and you determine that one hive has a mite load that is above threshold, do you automatically treat all the hives in the near vicinity or do you test each one and make an individual treatment decision on each hive?
Thanks in advance for any guidance! :)
Hi Sharolyn! Thanks for these great questions.
1) I wait a while before testing a colony after it was a swarm or package. At least 3-5 weeks. You want to see several 3-4 bars or frames of brood before you do a test. Mites reproduce in the brood, so until you have a significant amount of brood, the mites won't be increasing significantly anyways...however, a broodless colony is one that can really benefit from an oxalic acid or hop guard treatment. Both organic. I know I said to test before treating, (and I do) but this is an option. Ask the package supplier if they were already treated before you recived the package though.
2). I like to treat early in the the spring (mid april) and then again when brood is at this peak (late May/early June) and then again in September (when I still have time to treat before the weather gets too cold. These are the definite times I test. This obviously changes based on the weather in your area (we are close!). If I see spotty brood I throw that 4th test in there to determine if its mites, the queen, poor resources, etc.
3). If you have fewer than 10 hives I'd recommend testing each. I believe that's what the BIP recommends...but I could be wrong. There can be a significant difference in hives in the same apiary due to queen (and the drones she mated with) genetics and you want to know which queens are carrying those good genetics. Obviously in big operations this isn't practical and they will simply sample a few, and treat all based on those samples. On that note, it's good to test and treat all hives in the same apiary at the same time.
Thank you Amy! This is helpful and informative, and is very much appreciated!
I think your video is excellent -- thankyou;
I'd like your opinion on a mite related sampling approach I've been using: counting mites using a sticky board; usually daily from Spring until late Fall
I have two Langstroth hives currently; (I've done top bar and Langstroth in varying numbers for a few years and live near Los Lunas); I've not wanted to do the alcohol wash sampling technique as I dislike killing bees (that's not a value judgement on others ... just my preference)
So: I'm pretty conversant in knowing what a mite looks like as I've seen hundreds; and I use the count to decide when to do OA drip treatments or for fall/winter maintenance using Apivar strips
Now back to my question -- there is a lot of detritus on each sticky board I look at but I've noticed that there's a major difference between the boards from different hives and I'm confident there's a lot to learn from that observation -- now the question: do you know a source for learning what to look for (besides mites)
A second topic: I also have some experience in using a method described by Randy Oliver for extended OA treatment using a pad soaked in OA solution -- I'd like to correspond/discuss with anyone in the Beeks about their work with such methods.