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Thursday, May 29, 2008

Preparing to Attack

After getting my response from Phil Craft, the Kentucky State Apiarist about my Varroa problem, I have formulated my plan of attack against the little mites that would, if left alone, be a death sentence to my hive(s).

Phil suggested that I conduct a 'stick board' test to count the mites.  I'll use Apigaurd, a chemical treatment that is safe for the bees and humans.  This will knock out some of the mites and allow me to count the dead ones to give a rough estimate of the level of infestation.

After that, my plan of attack is as follows;

First, I'll be installing a screened bottom board to help keep mites that are groomed off the bees from crawling back up into the hive.  The mites fall down through a screen and cannot physically crawl back into the brood chamber where the bees live.  

Second, based on the test results and mite count, I will either dust them with powdered sugar (this encourages grooming and the loosening of mites), or I'll go ahead with a full chemical treatment.

Third, I'll continue to test and count mites to monitor levels.

After about four days of research, I've realized that mites are a factor that most beekeepers have to deal with.  Levels can be controlled through various chemical and mechanical methods.  It seems that the key is early detection and monitoring.  So far, I feel a little ahead of the curve and feel like I caught it early enough.

I can't stress enough the importance of having good resources to lean on.  Thank you Phil for your prompt response (even on a holiday).

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