Varroa Article

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Countryboy
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Varroa Article

Unread post by Countryboy » October 2nd, 2016, 12:09 pm

The colonies were all in hives consisting of a single “commercial” brood chamber (11 frames each 43.8 x 25.4 cm, vol. 56.4 l), wooden bottom board with mesh floor, inner cover, and telescopic outer cover.
OK, I think the British Standard "Commercial" box is 16 by 10 inches, not 17 by 10. (I think the British National Standard hives use 14 by 12 inch frames.) And 56 liters seems to be a typo. I'm not sure how the volume of a single BS commercial hive compares to the volume in single deep, double deep, or deep and a medium hives.

All that aside, how does volume of the hive affect the efficacy of vaporized oxalic acid? A lot of folks overwinter with a double deep hive. How many overwinter with a single deep hive? Will you need to double the amount of oxalic acid used if you use a double deep hive, instead of a single, in order to get the same concentration of oxalic in the air in the hive?

And what condition were the boxes is? Were they brand new boxes? Were they beat up old boxes with holes in them (often holes drilled by beekeepers)? I've heard you are supposed to try to seal all hive entrances with tape. How much does it affect efficacy if your boxes have plenty of "ventilation"?

Disclaimer - I've never used oxalic acid in any form in my hives. (I have used formic acid MAQS before.) I run my hives as Langstroth single deeps with an excluder for honey production. I place 2 or 3 shallow honey supers under the brood box for overwintering. "Usually" my bees will fill the deep with honey or syrup for overwintering, and the shallow supers are used more for clustering space and dead air space. The majority of my boxes were previously owned, and range in condition from good boxes to pretty rough. Most have holes.
I don't monitor for varroa. I currently use a rotation of one single strip of Apivar, Apistan, and MAQS in the spring and fall. Last year's winter losses were about 5% but over the past few years, winter losses are often about 20%. (Last winter was mild - or maybe I am becoming a better beekeeper.) Before I started treating for mites around 2010, losses were normally 40%-70% every winter.
I don't currently use oxalic acid, but have considered adding it to the rotation of mite treatments I use.
B. Farmer Honey
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Re: Varroa Article

Unread post by Allen Dick » October 2nd, 2016, 12:23 pm

56 litres does not seem far off. Our standard comes to about 46 depending on the lid and floor configuration.

In my experience, for evaporation, volume of hive or OA quantity used are not so much a factor as the way air circulates. More boxes mean more areas where the vapour may not penetrate.

We treated with open entrances and just used more OA. In New York, recently, Aaron closed the entrances with foam strips and I think that was wise, but not necessary. This is not a precision operation, but obviously if the vapour is all fanned out or does not circulate in the hive, much is wasted. Use more.

Somewhere back in the diary is a video of Meijers blasting my hives with OA, and also details of my own evaporation attempts and results.
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Re: Varroa Article

Unread post by Countryboy » October 2nd, 2016, 7:20 pm

A British commercial is 46.5 by 46.5 cm outside dimensions. Assuming the walls are 3/4 inch thick, that makes the internal dimensions about 42.7 by 42.7, by 25.4 (+ beespace, 1cm?). 42.7 times 42.7 times 26.4 is 48135 cm^3 or 48 liters. So maybe 56 liters isn't too far off.
The colonies were all in hives consisting of a single “commercial” brood chamber (11 frames each 43.8 x 25.4 cm, vol. 56.4 l), wooden bottom board with mesh floor, inner cover, and telescopic outer cover.
I just noticed these hives had screened bottom boards. We can only assume these were closed off.
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Re: Varroa Article

Unread post by Allen Dick » October 2nd, 2016, 7:31 pm

Maybe not. We didn't worry too much about ventilation when we were using oxalic vapor. The vapor rises.
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Re: Varroa Article

Unread post by Countryboy » October 2nd, 2016, 7:42 pm

Then why bother sealing the entrance with foam? To cut down on the risk of the beekeeper breathing fumes?
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Re: Varroa Article

Unread post by Allen Dick » October 2nd, 2016, 10:09 pm

The fumes rise. Frankly I don't know, though.

Fumigating with OA is not a precision operation and the dose is not critical. That seems apparent from the study I posted.

Drizzling and spraying are more sensitive to dose in terms of both efficacy and bee mortality.
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Re: Varroa Article

Unread post by BadBeeKeeper » October 4th, 2016, 5:18 pm

Countryboy wrote:Before I started treating for mites around 2010, losses were normally 40%-70% every winter.
Holy crap! I probably would have given up if I ever had losses that high.

I lost none last winter. I lost two this summer, due to my neglect- queens lost, hives went laying worker and failed. (Drone brood scattered across frames, no signs of disease such as foulbrood.)

All remaining hives look healthy and normal (except the one with no brood), no sign of DWV or other disease, and no sign of mites either on check boards or in culled drone brood. I am skeptical that I have succeeded in eradicating mites at my location so I placed Formic Acid last week anyway. I am somewhat isolated from other beekeepers, and I did not import any bees this year. I'd like to think I don't have any, but I can't believe it at this point in time. We'll see...it was probably just bad observation skills...

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Re: Varroa Article

Unread post by Countryboy » October 4th, 2016, 6:42 pm

Holy crap! I probably would have given up if I ever had losses that high.
Adversity builds character. I guess I am just the personality type who tries to overcome obstacles.

Back then, I was making really good money as a machinist in a factory, and I only had 20 or 25 hives. (The machine shop closed down. Now the factory is closing too.) I've never married and have no kids. I don't drink or do drugs. I've always lived a pretty frugal/cheap lifestyle. I could afford to try to be a treatment free idealist.

Back then I was replacing most losses by splitting. I would pull the queen and a couple frames from a hive, leaving lots of eggs and young larvae in the big hive. Then a week later after the bees made emergency cells, I would go back through the hive. If it was a foundationless frame, I would cut the cells out with my knife and use those cells in splits. Or if the emergency cells were on a plastic frame, I would just put the whole frame in a split. (I quickly learned I couldn't remove cells from plastic frames very often without damaging the queen cell.)

I would be able to replace losses every year, but I had a lot of difficulty producing much honey. I enjoyed playing with the bees, but I wasn't seeing any money.

I think it was 2010 or 2011 that I took a Friday evening and Saturday class on queen rearing and learned to graft.

In 2010 I helped a commercial honey producer running 820 hives for the summer, (I was laid off at the shop) and I saw how productive good hives could be. Granted, it was his best year ever (196 pounds per hive average) but I saw how productive bees could actually be.

I started treating.

I had 90 some hives going into summer this year. I think I have somewhere around 70-75 right now. I lost a few that swarmed themselves to death. There were a few that the queen got above the excluder. Even though I got the queen below the excluder when I pulled honey, now that I am going around getting hives ready for winter, I am finding some of those hives dead. And there were a few queens that got blown out when I was pulling honey. I didn't see the brood in the supers until I was blowing them out, and by then, who knows what hive they came from.

We had no fall flow to speak of this fall. (6 or 7 yards checked, and only 1 yard made a partial shallow super of goldenrod in each hive.) Some yards had a little weight in the brood box. Some yards had brood boxes that were light as a feather. In those yards, I will stack two light brood boxes together, and fill the frame feeders in both boxes. (That's an easy way to give 1 hive 2 gallons of feed at once.) When I was starting out, I would have tried to feed both light hives, and odds are, both hives would end up dying over winter. This way I have a better chance of the hive surviving, and being able to split it in the spring. So part of my losses was from the inexperience of not knowing what was worth trying to save and what was better off combining.

You don't learn how light a hive can be, feed it, and it still survive your winters until you have some die, but also have some make it.

It's easy to be a beekeeper when everything goes right. A really good year can cover up a lot of beekeeper mistakes. It's when things don't go according to plan that you become a better beekeeper.
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Re: Varroa Article

Unread post by Allen Dick » October 4th, 2016, 11:14 pm

Wise words. Hives that get too light in late summer or fall never recover enough to winter in the north no matter how much you feed them.
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Re: Varroa Article

Unread post by Countryboy » October 5th, 2016, 6:54 am

It sticks in my mind that I read once that if a hive gets below 15 pounds of honey in it for very long, it has major long term effects on the hive.

I run single deep hives for honey production. When I do the final pull of honey, I fill the frame feeder with syrup before I close up the hive.

When I helped the guy in 2010, he also ran his hives in singles, but after the season, we were shaking his bees out of his boxes into another beekeepers boxes. (that guy was going to try to winter them down south and take them to almonds supposedly - no idea how that worked out for the guy.) By the time we pulled honey from the last yards, the fall flow was over. When we came back a week later to shake the bees into the buyer's boxes, strong hives were starving to the point that the bees weren't flying. They would just tremble in the cluster, barely able to flutter their wings. I highly doubt those bees survived. The boxes we were shaking into all had frame feeders with syrup, and they were placed in a holding yard with a drum of syrup. Maybe they were able to recover, but I doubt it.

In prior years, the commercial guy had just allowed the bees to starve after he pulled the honey. During the winter, he would gather boxes from beeyards and use an air hose to blow the dead bees out of the cells in the frames, (high pressure air doesn't hurt old brood combs the consistency of cardboard, but would tear up fresher combs) and after the bees were blown out of the cells, he would spray syrup into the cells to get the boxes ready for spring packages.

In 2010 he had a record honey production of 196 pounds per hive average, when 125 was his normal average back then. He sold most of his honey for $1.75-$2.00 a pound to sideliners and resellers. (No sales to any big national honey packers, just small guys.) 161,000 pounds of honey production was about $300,000 in cash sales.

After working our butts off all summer, he sold the shake bees for about $12 each to make another $10K. That was another 3 or 4 days of going to beeyards shaking bees. After the long season, to me, the last $10K didn't seem worth the extra effort or the damage to boxes. (You take a single brood box, smoke the bees down, and then pound it on top of the buyer's box to knock the bees in. Ears got broke off frames regularly. We were adding one frame of brood to the buyer's box to hold the bees, and then shake all the bees in.) The beekeeper agreed with me, but said that in a bad year, that $10K would have paid for a nice chunk of next years spring packages. (He picked up packages in Georgia, and they were a little over $50 each that year.)

Now he is advertising 100 singles at the end of the season with a super on them for $200 or $16K for all, and also selling end of season 5 frame nucs for $110 each. That's a lot less work.
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Re: Varroa Article

Unread post by Allen Dick » October 5th, 2016, 7:54 am

Yes, and the buyer gets a much better colony.
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