More Beekeeping Adventures

It’s been a while since I posted my ramblings. The days pass so quickly.

If you’ve read any of my earlier post on my beekeeping adventures, you know I requeened one of the hives and started another hive last month. Now that it’s over, I realize it was a good learning experience (sort of like raising teenagers). After the two-week checkup, it seemed Queen Liz and Victoria were successfully doing their thing and the original queen was good too (I should give her a name, so she doesn’t feel left out). Other than feeding, I decided to leave them be for a while. A rest from my prodding hive tool. By the way, between David’s hummingbirds and the bees, we need sugar cane in the field instead of soybeans.

From everything I’ve read and watched, August and September are varroa mite treatment time. This is the part of beekeeping I’ve been dreading. It encourages me to move to Australia where no mites exist. It seems so complicated compared to treating the dog for fleas. There’s so much information and opinions about mites and beetles. Suggested treatments include organic, essential oils (who knew there’s a difference in food grade and aromatherapy), strips, oxalic acid, or do nothing. As a newbie, the opinions and options are overwhelming. I thought about ignoring it all and pretending MY hives would never have mites, but that attitude will likely doom the girls to a winter death. We’ve been through too much to let that happen.

This brings me to the testing for mites. Alcohol wash or sugar shake? Certain death or be cleaned off by your sister bees. Sugar shake it is. This past Saturday my goal was to test the hives. First, I should have listened to the ladies when they gave the signs they wanted no part of testing. There was a hard rain the night before and it was clear right from the beginning they were not in a good mood. I chose to ignore. Bad idea. Layering on top of an already bad disposition, I took 300 rowdy bees and placed them in a jar, dropped in powdered sugar, rolled it around, and shook for a full minute over a white bucket. You tell me what kind of mood you’d been in after that. After a sting through the gloves and two angry guard bees chasing me to the barn, I waved my flag and said no-way to testing the other hive.

The single test did reveal a few small brown spots that could be mites. Bad eyesight and inexperience did not confirm anything 100%. I went back later and used cooking oil spray on the white boards under the screened bottoms to monitor mites (another testing method found on YouTube). Twenty-four hours later, I pulled the boards. Yes, there are some little brown round spots, but again, inexperience and eyesight will not confirm mite infestation.  Using the better safe than sorry method, I’m treating in the next week or so. I’d rather give them a drag off a fogger using oxalic acid and 190 proof grain alcohol than risk the death of the hives (I’m following Dave with Barnyard Bee’s advice). On that note, one can buy anything from Amazon.

Stay tuned as my fogger, 190 proof alcohol, oxalic acid, and respirator arrive in the mail. One small propane tank from Walmart and things should get interesting. I think the mention of the propane tank scared the hubby.

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