Pests

2010
08.13

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Varroa Mites are the biggest enemy

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We face a greater threat from in-hive pests than from out-hive pests (bears and teenagers)  or diseases. The number one big bad enemy is the Varroa mite.

Short Term Fix – Monitoring and IPM (Integrated Pest Management)

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Monitoring

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I check mite count by cutting out out drone cells, then uncapping with a stick and removing drone bodies and count the varroa on the bodies.  After a 100 drones, you have a statistical meaningful sample.  Greater than 25% infestation is economically damaging. It is time to beef up your IPM techniques or buy mite resistant queens to replace your current genetic line.

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IPM

Using a screen bottom board or screen bottom to a TBH, you let mites fall thru who loose their footing on bees. This lowers the count by a few percentage points. Also, you can cut out drone cells from time to time, as they have the majority of the mites in incubation. This is a short term fix, only.

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Long Term Fix – Breeding

In the long term, the only real solution to pests is to breed a bee that take care of pests themselves. Russian bees, VMR, Minnesota Hygenics, and other strains of bees are going to eventually produce a strain that senses the pests and counters them. This is the only realistic solution to the problem on a long term basis.

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How to Screw up the Beekeeping World – Chemical Treatments

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The best way to make the problem worse, for everyone, is chemical treatments. An no, I’m not a bleeding heart environmentalist who hates all chemicals. In fact, I want the world to bring DDT back for non agricultural uses. (Great for malaria control, but terrible for widespread crop spraying).

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Chemical treatments work right then and there. They kill the pests, then they stay in the hive, get in the wax, come in contact with your honey. The honey you are selling to folks whose kids will eat. How do you feel about that?

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But it gets worse. Because that is not the real problem. The true problem is that once in a while not all the pests you treated die in the hive. Some survive because they had a slight resistance to that chemical. So you begin breeding a superior pest. And that pest breeds and multiplies and now you have created the superior pest and given it to your neighborhood, and then state, and then to other countries.

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But no worries, people say, we’ll treat with a different chemical. And the cycle starts over again.  But this time the pest has two resistances and you have bred a super pest.  You beginning to see the problem?  It is described in the bee world as the ‘chemical treadmill’. Once you get on it, you can’t keep it up.

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The only way to win, is not to play. So don’t start with chemicals, just go find pest resistant bees.

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A good website with a drone mite count calculator is here:

https://secure.fera.defra.gov.uk/beebase/public/BeeDiseases/varroaCalculator.cfm

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Wax Moth

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Wax Moths aren’t truly a pest. They are natures vultures for beehives.  When one dies, this cleans up the mess.  The problem with wax moth attacking idle supers, it that beekeepers keep the bee ecology out of whack. Idle comb is considered a dead hive to Mother Nature, and she want to fix it.

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Small Hive Beetle

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A new enemy in our midst. Eventually we will breed a bee that can survive this pest. In the meantime, keep your hives in full sun to keep SHB numbers low.  They like 50% humidity and sandy soils to gestate in.

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3 Responses to “Pests”

  1. John says:

    Happen to be looking through the videos on YT and found a guy in Georgia using your free sign boards cut up and using vegetable shortening as the seal on both ends puts boric acid in the sign board. Says it works great on SHB, the shortening is the attractant. Is boric acid safe?

    thanks, john

  2. joe says:

    how about fire ants?

  3. chandra says:

    For SHB and Varroa mites,particularly SHB is freeman’s oil pan method.Using a screened bottom board that has a plastic tray that slides out.
    Add used vegetable oil into the tray,next pour liberally powder sugar into the frames using bee brush the P/S into each frames.Inspect after 40 minutes count how many SHB have fallen into the oil pan,same with the mites.
    freemanbeetletrap.comChemical free .used vegetable oil is given away by any restaurants.

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