OK, back to the story. So the first thing you do for a varroa inspection is...
You guest it, suit up and light the smoker... then smoke the hives like you would for any other inspection. After that you select a good frame with lots of brood and lots of bees, since varroa attack the brood,
Once on the bee, the varroa feeds on it's blood. Then, when inside the hive, it looks for an open brood cell and lays her eggs. When the larva caps the cell, the varroa are born and latch into the unsuspecting pupa. By the time the bee emerges, it may do so with mites and with crooked or deformed wings. This be cant fly and will die soon. When the varroa population infests a hive and passes a threshold, the whole hive will die, mostly of hunger because infected bees can not fly...
So to control this nasty parasite, The Hive Genie Team is working around the clock to design an add-on to our existing Hive Genie. With this unit, the Hive Genie will take completely natural solution to a huge problem. Therefore saving the hive and the beekeeper a lot of work and a lot of headaches. We are also working on a device that can accurately count varroa mites, therefore saving even more hard work.
Here's two current methods to determine the varroa population or the varroa infestation level...
This is one of our apiaries that we are using to test The Hive Genie and to produce Honey.
First gather bees in the same way. Then, put them in a bottle with sugar powder and shake them gently for a certain amount of time.
Another method that is friendlier for the bees since there are no casualties (almost!) is the powder sugar method. It is less precise, but you get an instant count! Here's how it works...
Six in this case, make sure you count only mites! Then, carefully and slowly release the bees back to the hive and count them!
Then, for another amount of time shake the bottle like a salt shaker on top of a plate
We will measure again next week and let you know how effective the treatment was!
For the record, Mary didn't get stung in her hands, I did! She is a pro and way gentler than I am!
Then, you gather a scoop full of bees (about 300) and funnel them into the sampling bottle that contains some type of alcohol to preserve the sample and dislodge the mites from the bees. Unfortunately with this sampling method, 300 bees are going to die, but it is the most accurate way we have today of measuring varroa infestation. That is why The Hive Genie Team will soon come up with a better and faster solution for all our users...
Now you have a count of bees, 200 in this case, so we have 3% not bad. Treatment is recommended above 4.5% so we are good for now on this one! The other one had 17% so we treated with powder sugar...
Once the samples are bottled the job is done. You will hear back from Texas A&M Apiary Inspection Service in about a week. They will tell you the percentage of bees with mites per each hive. We had 0%, 7.8%, 5%,1.6% and 0% and 6.8%. They recommended us to treat anything above 4%. Being the science guys that we are, we are going to treat each hive with a different method and test their effectiveness. We will let you know our results! By the way, they also reported Nosema Virus spores per bee... fortunately our bees were clean! After you are done, make sure to remove the bees from your butt!
Spray some water to dilute the sugar and to be able to easily count the mites...
This one is all capped brood and no bees... so this won't work either
Varroa Mite is the number one beehive killer! Yep, it's not winter nor Colony Collapse Disorder, it's Varroa Mite, also known as varroa destructor, wonder why?
When bees are foraging a varroa mite gets a hold of them. In the pic below, you can actually see it below the bees eye. Is that brown ball that looks like a little grape!
What a beautiful frame! I took a picture of this one because it has a little bit of everything. Capped brood in light brown in the middle, below we have capped honey, the pearly white things are actually open brood or larvae. The yellow cells contain pollen... But no, this wan't the frame either. It actually was the one below. Once you have selected the frame, you need to give it a shake on top of the tray to collect some bees.
We are with the Texas Apiary Inspector "Mary" , that is housed at Texas A&M University in College Station Texas. She is an Entomologist and super cool! The other guy is my friend and fellow beekeeper Matt, a PhD with Sam Houston University in Huntsville Texas... I brought the cavalry for this one!
You can request the Apiary service in your state for a Hive Inspection. In Texas, it costs about $75 dollars. At the end, you will have learned a whole lot more about your bees and if it is the case, get a Health Certificate for your hives. And you will get a clear action plan on how to treat the varroa and other problems.
No, not that one, it has no brood, just uncapped honey!
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