The Curse of Mites

It’s been quite hot here recently and I’m delaying suiting up and getting into the hives. It’s just not as fun when your already in an all out sweat upon arriving in the beeyard and I truly like to enjoy my trips inside the hives. The weather is supposed to change next week and I will update you on the status of the hives then.

In the mean time I have completed a mite count on three of the hives. I placed a sticky board (a sticky white piece of cardboard paper lined in one inch squares) under three of the hives this week for 24 hours to take the count. You must have a screened bottom board to do this. Without the screen the bees can get to the sticky board and will get stuck to it.

The results were interesting. My two “Carny” hives (Carniolan race of bees) had counts of 10 mites in the first hive and 2 mites in the second hive. This is a very low count and on the face of it, would seem to be very encouraging. More on that in a bit.

The third hive I did the mite count in had 42 mites on the sticky board. This is considered a moderate mite load and most beeks would begin treating with a miticide at this point. If you have been following along you already know my hives are treatment free and I do not use chemicals (insecticides) in my hives. I am at the juncture in the road where the traditional beek and I part ways. They treat with chemicals and I have to wait and see if the bees I have hold the genes that will allow them to fight back.

This is where I’m hoping there is a difference. The Carny’s are run of the mill commercial bees and in the past have demonstrated great difficulty in dealing with mites. Consequently they most often don’t make it through the winter. Still, these dang bees are so productive I keep hoping to get lucky and be blessed with one queen who contains genetic material that allows the bees to fight back. Now on to the third hive and the rest of this discussion.

The third hive I did the mite count in is the re-queened hive. I purchased a queen that supposedly comes from stock containing the genes which allow the bees to counter the mites and maintain a healthy hive without chemicals. Its this hive that had the high mite count of 42 mites. So we can speculate on a couple things here. Either this third hive has somehow become exposed to far more mites than the other two hives – which seems unlikely this early in the season – or this hive is displaying signs that it is cleaning the mites off of the bees, therefore a greater mite count is seen on the sticky board. What was really interesting was most the mites were located in one area on the sticky board where there was a lot of debris from bee activity. It was near the side of the hive where I believe I have placed a couple old frames. Without looking inside I suspect the bees were cleaning up these frames getting them ready for use. Where the bees congregated there were a lot more mites. Speculation – where the bees gathered they actively cleaned each other up.

We will know more as time goes on. The goal of my little operation here is to find and maintain a bee population that cares for itself and does not require the use of insecticides. It may turn out that the Carny hives, which demonstrated the low mite count, showed a low mite count because they are not cleaning themselves of the mites and dropping them on the sticky board. Their mite count cold actually be quite high. It also may be they just have experienced a lower exposure to mites. Only time will tell and I will continue to watch and see how this develops. I may have more information to share after my hive inspections later this next week.

On another note entirely, my first quarterly report showing my book sales came out yesterday and things were very positive. Enough so that I have just created a blog specific to my book Truths Blood. As time allows I will be posting more information about the book and about the journey of writing and self-publishing. The book has received excellent reviews on Amazon and I hope you will check both it and the blog out. The link to the blog is below. If you are looking for that great summer read, I honestly believe you will enjoy my novel and the adventure it takes you on.


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