Beekeepers Friend

Peaches’ Beekeeping Blog

March 28, 2011

Checking for Mites

There are three ways to test for mites. Actually two, one kills the bees using one of two approved solutions, and one where the bees continue to live.

Using a half pint jar with a canning top and ring, gather about an inch or two of bees and using ether spray liberally into jar and close the top. Shake the bees until all are dead and drenched but not floating with the liquid ether. Then roll the jar horizontal so the bees will touch the sides. As you roll the jar, look for the little red or black mites sticking to the side. Or you could use Isopropyl alcohol and repeat what I just said. Using Ether and Alcohol will kill the bees.

The other way to check for mites is to get a half pint jar with ring and cut an 8 mesh hardware cloth (wire screen 8 squares to the inch) to fit inside of the ring, scoop about an inch or so of bees into the jar and put the screen and ring on. Put about a 1/4th cup of powdered sugar in through the screen and shake for about a minute (gently) and then let rest a minute. Shake the sugar over a white plate, bowl, paper, etc and count the mites.You can also put a little water in the bowl and when you shake the powdered sugar into the water, it will disappear and you can see the mites quite readily. You can release the bees and they will just fly back to the hive and live to a ripe old age of 42 days +.

Count the mites and if you have 1-5 mites in the jar you are okay. Just keep monitoring and check again in 2 weeks.

If you have 6-10, then you need to treat the hive within 2-3 weeks.

If there is 10-20 mites, then you need to treat as soon as possible.

21+ mites means the hive is near collapse. You need to treat now. That means that when you go to the apiary to check the mite count, you need to take the treatments with you just in case you need to take immediate action.

There is another method for testing for mites. You need a screen bottom board for this (again 8 mesh). And you need some way to attach a sticky board under the screen. Supply houses have these kinds of bottom boards. You can purchase one and use it for a pattern to make as many as you need. I would recommend screen bottoms for every hive.

You need to purchase commercially produced sticky boards with 1″ grid lines so you can count the mites per square inch. Or you can make your own by getting a poster board or something like that and smear grease or vasoline on the board. When the mites drop naturally, they will stick to the board and die. Leave the sticky board in or under the hive for 24 hrs. or you can leave it there for 3 days. Count the mites and then divide by how many days you had the sticky board applied.  Use the same formula as mentioned above.

Remember we are going chemical-less. Your treatment will consist of white powdered sugar. Dust all the bees you see in the hive until they are ghost white. Since we are not killing the Verroa Mites, the powder coats their little suctioncuplike feet and they lose their grip on the bees and fall off. I you have a solid bottom board, the mites will just wait until another bee comes by and jump on. Did I tell you the mites cannot walk too good but they are excellent jumpers, at least for about 3/4″.

If you have a screen bottom board, then the mites will fall to the ground and then the ants will get them for food. Screen bottom boards are good for ventilation (temperature and moisture) control. You don’t even have to cover them up in the winter time. There are some beekeepers in Canada that have screened bottoms and report that the bees seem to be stronger for it.

That’s it for now. New post in a few days.

2 Trackback(s)

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