Fall is here and winter around the corner. It’s that time of year when I must be certain my bees are ready for old man winter. Earlier this year when I went to observe and check on the hives I discovered all 3 hives at the Greensboro Science Center were no more, I was traumatized. The culprit? Varroa Mites. This discovery was made in late February and you can read about it here.
I quickly ordered new queens and their colonies and installed them with success. They have flourished over the spring and summer but no doubt would have some mites to contend with. I am a quick learner and this year I was not about to let those nasty mites take my bees. Adventures such as this are what keeps beekeeping interesting and a beekeeper on her toes! Problem solving! I knew exactly what I needed to do this year hopefully to prevent another devastating blow – apply mite strips to the hives. I’ve never done this before but after reading and investigating about the way to go about it I knew it must be done.
I hated having to put this noxious poison in the hives but the proven consensus is that it doesn’t harm the bees, just kills the mites. After getting a sniff of the strips it’s hard to imagine it wouldn’t kill anything and everything…but trusting those who have gone before me I treated the hives with Mite Away Strips.
Doing this required me to rearrange the supers on my hives so that the strips would be placed on a brood box where they would be most effective. You see the mites attack the baby bees so the pest control must be dispersed around the brood. I first had to remove a super full of honey – weighing around 60-70 pounds. I do not plan on taking any honey from the bees this year so no worries about the poison filtering into the honey for human consumption. Ugh…I can’t tell you how weird I felt laying those mite away ribbons in the hive – just one deep breath nearly put me out of commission for the next hour. I wore protective latex gloves over my leather beekeeper gloves and meant to hold my breath the entire time but forgot and inhaled. Only on the first go round!
I repeated the process on the second hive and closed everyone up for two weeks. The great staff at GSC kept an eye on the hives, checking for any signs of distress or an unusual amount of deceased bees. Luckily the girls didn’t seem to be stressed nor were there dead bees at the entrance of the hive. I had hopes for a good outcome when I went to check on the success of the mite control.
Success! See all those little brownish-red spots in the photo above? Dead mites! The yellow drops are pollen. This is what the bottom board looked like after the mite strips were placed in my hives. Now it’s waiting time. Both hives have plenty of stored honey to make it through the winter. I’m praying and hoping that the mite kill in both hives is sufficient and that both hives are strong and healthy in spring 2018.
Above is a fun video of the bees managing climate control at the entrance to the hive. You can see bees on the entrance flat board as well as hanging onto the opening fanning their little wings to keep the circulation going. With warm weather continuing they work tirelessly to keep their hive temperature constant. We complain tirelessly if our air conditioner goes out! I love my bees!