Variable Efficacy of Mite Treatments?

Variable efficacy of mite treatments has been a constant battle for beekeepers in the past 28 years. However, there are some things we can do in the colony to increase a treatment’s efficacy. Many treatments available to beekeepers are spread through the hive by the bees and also by the bees fanning and ventilating the hive. This ventilation is a crucial part of the hive as a whole since pheromones are spread through the hive via ventilation and traffic from worker, queen and drone bees. Through my experience, and especially over the past 8 years, I have noticed many different types of beekeepers: there are…

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I prepped my honey bees for winter, but they died. What happened?

Disclaimer: It is sometimes difficult to piece together a post-mortem of your hive. The best way to get your bees to overwinter is to plan ahead. It is disheartening when hives die, but you are planning ahead *RIGHT NOW* to increase your survivorship by learning more. A few questions: How heavy were your brood boxes going into winter? Did the bees have enough resources to make it through winter? In Minnesota, we build up our colonies into 3 deeps and leave 75-100 lbs. of honey for the bees to make it through winter and 3-5 frames of pollen to give the bees enough protein to…

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Know your honey bee colonies: non-destructive testing for varroa mites

Varroa mites (Varroa destructor) were accidentally introduced into the U.S. in 1987 and rapidly became a destructive pest of honeybees. Not only do varroa mites suck the blood (haemolymph) of the bees, they transmit disease through this feeding and generally weaken colonies (Rosenkranz et al. 2010).  Low infestations of varroa mites left without mitigation can develop into a serious problem for a hive. It is recommended you test your honey bees for varroa mites periodically throughout the season. Here in Minnesota, we test for varroa in spring (May), in late August or early September, and then after treatment has been on for the recommended time,…

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Oxalic Acid registered by EPA for use against Varroa mite on Honey bees

The varroa mite (Varroa destructor) has caused widespread devastation to honey bees through vampire-like feeding on larval and adult bees which decreases normal adult honey bee size, shortens their lifespan and can transfer viruses between bee hosts. (Rosenkrantz et al. 2010).                       Oxalic acid (CAS #144-62-7) has just been registered by the EPA for use on honey bee colonies here in the US. Oxalic acid has been legal to use on honeybees in Europe and Canada and is a naturally occurring chemical that can be found in a number of plants. It also occurs naturally…

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Varroa Mite Field Sample Processing Video

In our lab, we benefit from a diverse repertoire of individuals coming from varied backgrounds.  Working at a university includes the benefit of having motivated students with unique skills ready to use their talents.  Byron Mariani, a Sophomore Kinesiology Major, is one of these students who began working at the Bee Informed Partnership Lab at the beginning of the fall 2013 semester.  In addition to the help he provides in diagnosing colonies for Varroa, he has also proven himself invaluable with his video editing abilities.  With the help from our undergraduates, Anthony Nearman who provides a voice-over, and Kirsten Traynor who wrote the script, we…

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Spring in California 2014

The most opportune time for honey bee colonies in most areas of the U.S. is during spring build-up. The surplus of pollen and nectar that usually accompanies spring allows a growing colony to create a surplus of pollen and honey. It is also a time of year where the colony is trying to work through its kinks and get the colonies population dynamics under control as far as nurse bee to worker ratio. This ratio is crucial for hive ventilation and keeping moisture and bacteria from infiltrating the hive and causing problems. Some diseases that arise during this opportunistic time period are Chalkbrood, AFB, EFB…

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The Pygmy Shrew: A little mammal that is causing big problems in Canadian overwintering colonies

Typically when critter infestations come up into beekeeping conversation these common mammals come to mind: bears, skunks, mice, opossums and raccoons. Just like their size, pygmy shrews often fall under the radar. However, Fletcher Colpitts, Chief Apiary Inspector of New Brunswick, Canada, is working to make information about the pygmy shrew more available. He recently posted an info sheet about the pygmy shrew that every beekeeper should read: http://www.nbba.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/shrew_screen.pdf The pygmy shrew is the smallest mammal native to North America. It can fit through a hole in a honey bee hive as little as 1 cm, and surprisingly only weighs an average of 3 grams.…

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Oxalic Acid Fogger Demostration

When it comes to Varroa control, beekeepers have always been concerned about mites' resistance to commercial treatments available on the market. It seems the arms race never ends, but changing up treatments throughout the year can help ensure that resistant mites don't get a foothold. There is a lot of interest in alternative mite control methods, and one that may be a useful addition to the beekeeper's toolbox is oxalic acid. Oxalic acid is an organic, naturally occurring compound which can be found in high concentrations in certain plants, notably spinach, rhubarb, and and the aptly named Oxalis. These plants use it as a deterrent…

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European Foulbrood (EFB)

EFB is often found when nectar flows are sporadic or there is an insufficient number of nurse bees to attend brood. How does EFB spread? European Foulbrood (Melissococcus plutonius) is transmitted when the bacteria become mixed with the bee bread, nectar or diluted honey, and then fed to young larvae. The bacteria then replicate in the larvae mid-gut, killing the larvae within 4-5 days. This causes the larvae to die before sealed in most cases. When the larvae dies it is left in a “stomach-ache” position making it look contorted or twisted in the cell. If the larvae are fed a small amount of the…

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BQCV (Black Queen Cell Virus)

So what is a virus? A virus is an infectious agent that parasitizes a host cell to replicate. Viruses can cause clinical symptoms, larvae death, or no symptoms at all. BQCV is caused by a virus in the family Dicistroviridae. BQCV is in the genus Cripavirus, which is different from other viruses like Acute Bee Paralysis Virus (ABPV), Israeli Acute Bee Paralysis (IAPV) and Kashmir Bee Virus (KBV) in the genus Aparavirus. Dicistroviruses infect many common insects like ants, bees, flies, leafhoppers, and aphids. The queen production industry is more likely to see this virus (hence its name) but it is still found in smaller…

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