Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mite Counts

The mite counts have been high, so a tough decision needs to be made. I've read and heard all sides in the "treat-don't treat" debate. I am committed to sustainable beekeeping but also cannot buy and build up packages each year. More later but I will probably choose the compromise of Api-Var.


Deamiter said...

That sounds like a good plan, although I'm not sure why you'd contrast "sustainable beekeeping" with the use of insecticides as careful use is definitely sustainable (or did you mean "chemical-free"?). I'm also not sure why you'd consider Amitraz to be a compromise -- it's an insecticide, not somehow halfway between treating and not treating.

I've seen much lower instances of mites in hives that swarm or are requeened -- if you have an environmental issue with adding chemicals to your hive, you might try requeening some of your hives every year as it interrupts the brood-rearing which also interrupts the mites' reproductive cycle.

Api-Var is a good solution until the mites develop widespread resistance to it, but I've seen great results from my Minnesota Hygenic bees that were bred at the University of Minnesota for hygenic (anti-mite) behavior.

They're Italian, so they're not as gentle as Carniolans, but if you're having ongoing mite issues, I'd highly recommend them.

I'm a firm believer that a combination of options is the best approach to fighting mites and other bee ailments. Relatively safe (for human consumption of honey and short-term hive health) insecticides shouldn't be abandoned, but we know the mites will develop resistance eventually, especially if it's used every year. Hygenic bees remove mite-infested brood and can control the mites. Requeening in the summer can help to break up brood cycles.

Good luck!

Abelisto said...

Thanks for the suggestions and encouragement.

Unfortunately, the words "sustainable", " organic" and "natural" are used by different beekeepers in different ways, sometimes interchangably. I should explain my meaning better I guess.:-)

I have totally rejected the word "natural" though I respect many who use it and understand their position. I think "natural" beekeeping, in the strict sense of the term, is not only impossible to achieve but possibly undesirable in most contexts in which bees are kept.

I still have reservations using Amitraz and have found Api-Var effective in the past.

I have kept Minnesota hygenic bees... One hive and a nuc I raised had a grandmother queen raised in Gary Reuter's hives. I took a queen rearing course two years ago at the U of M and that was our reward for taking the course :-).

Last year I raised my own queens but this year, because of health reasons, I was unable to. Perhaps I needed to order queens instead.

Thanks again