Bee Health & Varroa Mites


Hi I’m Tricia, an organic gardener I grow
organically for a healthy and safe food supply. For
a clean and sustainable environment. For an enjoyable and rewarding
experience. Beekeeping is a symbiotic relationship,
the bees provide honey and the beekeeper provides flowers, a dry
home keeps toxins away from the hive and makes
sure that the parasite level is tolerable. Bees need enough forage to
make it through the winter make your garden bee friendly by growing
a continuous supply of flowers. Planting seeds like this flowering
Pollinator Mix which will bloom year-round in mild climates or the Good
Bug Blend which will bloom for nine months in all
other climates are great flowers for your bees. On or around Labor Day is a good time to
check your hives honey stores. A colony needs twelve full combs or about
sixty to eighty pounds to make it through the winter. If you
have less than forty pounds by Labor Day you can feed them a syrup made of two parts
organic sugar and one part water or you can leave a
honey super in place. Part of a healthy happy hive is a warm
dry place to live place hives in full sun and face the
entrances toward the morning sun. Hives in full sun
tend to be healthier. Keep toxins away from your hives, use
organic pesticides and insecticides and read the label carefully because
even organic products can kill bees and don’t spray when the bees are flying.
Avoid using synthetic miticides which can build up in the comb and make
bees sick. You want to monitor for parasites and
discourage parasites through good hygiene, and then provide treatment if the
parasite level gets too high. The number-one nemesis of bees is the
Varroa mite. You need to use a combination of
controls to make sure this baddy doesn’t decimate your bees. You need to monitor for Varroa mites and
tools to do that with are the screen bottom board and this mite observation
board. If you want you can cut the board to the
size of your high footprint and then you want to smear on some
organic shortening. Place the hive stand and then the
observation board and then the screened bottom board and
then set your hive on top. Return twenty-four hours later and check
for any mites that have fallen onto the observation board. The sticky board method can be
inaccurate at the beginning and end of brood rearing season. Another monitoring method like the sugar shake
should be used at those times. To do the sugar shake get a wide mouth
mason jar an 1/8 inch screen like this sprouting
screen and a wide mouth funnel. Remove a frame and check carefully to make sure that
the queen is not on that frame and then shake enough bees into the jar to
fill it three quarters full. Put the screen on with a canning ring and
sift one rounded teaspoon of powdered sugar onto the bees role the jar until all
the bees are coated and then let them sit for a minute. After
the minute is up shake the sugar and dislodge the mites
onto a white pan, return your powdered bees to the hive
and count how many mites you’ve dislodged. You should monitor your hive in the
winter while brood-less, sample before the honey supers go on and
then again in late summer, and finally in early winter just as the
hive goes broodless. The two most critical times to
keep mite populations low is before you put
the honey supers on and from the middle of August when the
bees are starting to winterize the hive. High Varroa levels in August means a hive
may not survive the winter. Try to keep mite infestations under one
percent that means three mites per sugar shake
and ten mites per twenty four hour fall on sticky boards. The
first line of defense against mites is to get a resistant variety of Queen.
Check with your apiary before you buy any bees. if you have a hive that is continually
displaying high mite counts consider re-queening with a resistant
queen. Pay attention to your hives Varroa favor drone or male brood.
Destroying infested drone brood in the freezer while it is capped can help keep Varroa populations down.
Using screened bottom boards can also help reduce mite
populations because live mites will fall and can’t get back into the colony. A powdered sugar dusting will make it
hard for the mites to hold on to the bees. Practicing good hive hygiene by routinely
removing old comb is also helpful in reducing mite
populations. We’d all like to have treatment free bee
hives however in today’s bee unfriendly environment that’s just not
always possible. Fortunately there are natural mite
treatments to use when Varroa mite populations build over
safe tolerance levels. Apiguard is one such treatment. The
active ingredient is thymol found in thyme plants. After honey harvest simply set the tray on top of the brood
box peel back the foil close up your hive and check back in a
week or two. Remove the tray when the bees have
emptied it. Take care of your bee hives and the bees will hold up their end of
the bargain by giving you sweet honey. So here’s to healthy hives and grow
organic for life!

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23 thoughts on “Bee Health & Varroa Mites

  1. Great video. If I ever raised bees they could honestly keep all their honey. My main interests in having them would be helping with my vegetable garden and also increasing the population. I may be totally freaked out by bees but I realize how bad it is that so many are dying off worldwide. 🙁

    – Heidi

  2. Yes, many people do keep bees just as pollinators without harvesting the honey. They can really boost garden production.

  3. Beekeeping doesn't need to use pesticides or chemicals, organic or otherwise. Research treatment-free beekeeping as taught by Michael Bush, Charles Martin Simon and the Backwards Beekeepers.

  4. Thank you for the interesting research. Like Michael Bush we recommend starting with resistant queens and practicing good hive hygiene. A balanced IPM approach includes Prevention (hygiene), Avoidance (resistant queens), Monitoring, and Suppression (destroying infested brood). Treatment is an individual beekeeping decision and may be necessary in some areas and hives and unnecessary in others.

  5. I'm not familiar with a yellow bar for varroa control, so I can't say. I wasn't able to find information on it either so I can't say.

  6. Thank you so much for your video. I feel like an outcast here among the other beekeepers(they don't like me). I use no chemicals, they all do. The local store selling bees and bee supplies, is telling  people that if you do not treat for mites only 5% will survive and if you do treat 75% will survive. I tried bees last year with only 1 hive and they made it through winter just fine. This winter I hope to get 12 hives through winter.I do the powdered sugar as many times as it takes until I see no mites before winter. My bees have been living longer than 4-6 weeks. I got a total of 3 colonies from a 3lb package I bought in May, they had 2 supers of honey by mid July without feeding. Their population growth is amazing.

  7. If someone finds 3 mites per 300 bees then they are on the verge of an infestation if they are found during a brood cycle. You figure a strong hive with 50,000, to 60,000 bees in it during a peak honey flow, then you are looking at a serious amout of mites reproducing every 21 days.

  8. Will there be any more videos to this series? I love the way you present your videos, but I don't see any other videos, such as wintering or harvesting.

  9. love the video just want to make one correction, there is NO such thing as a varroa resistant bee, all bees are susceptible to varroa, there are SOME breeds of bee that have characteristics that help them shed varroa.  Some bees are more apt to clean themselves which helps knock mites off, but this does not stop mites.  Varroa are a serious problem effecting the food supply of all of the world, I hope we can figure it out soon.

  10. Where can I buy the hive and the bee package? I found a local beekeeping store but they do not sell hives or bees.

  11. I find all tricia's videos very easy to follow and very helpful as some one who is very interested  but not yet a beekeeper,thanks

  12. I don't really care about the honey, I just want to keep bees. It's scary to think that their numbers are dwindling, people need to start keeping bee hives in their garden more often. Thanks for the video!

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