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Instructions

INSTRUCTIONS

 

Removing board with sugar and mites.

The combination screened bottom boards have a variety of features and uses. It does not combat the varroa mites by itself. It should always be used in conjunction with another treatment. The Combo Board will facilitate most treatments available and is a complete bottom board used which replaces the traditional Langstroth type bottom board.

The polyethylene hi-impact floorboard can be used in 4 ways

1. As a sticky board, for trapping varroa mites and monitoring the health of your hive. Just pour a little vegetable oil, shortening or petroleum jelly and spread it all over the board with your hand or a rag. Insert the board into the lower slot, accessible from the front or rear after removing the outer door.

Rear access is preferable for monitoring and trapping the varroa mites. You can work the floorboard from the rear where it doesn’t upset the bees. Less need to smoke them, less chance of getting stung. We often check our boards from the rear with no veils or smoke involved at all. Remove the door and slide the plastic floorboard out.


Push board up from underneath if stuck.
You might want to attach a string or ribbon to the hole if you wear gloves. Sometimes the board sags a bit in the middle. You can re-bend it (it won’t break) before inserting it, or reach underneath and push the board up, or just turn the board upside down (you might have to re-oil on the other side).
Checking the mites. There are a variety of opinions concerning the ‘economic threshold’, that is; the number of mites you see on your board after 24 hours and its relationship to the health of the hive….or in other words, how many mites should you see before you take action. After 9 years of working with bottom screens, we have come up with an approximate number that has been working for us. Up to this year, we have used Apistan and screen boards every late August. We haven’t used a spring chemical treatment for at least 4 years on our hives, with an exceptional spot treatment in spring on very infested hives. Wait 3 day after inserting your oiled sticky board before removing. You will see a variety of debris such as bee feces, pollen, and mature and immature mites. The mature mites are small, oval, and dark reddish brown. The immature are beige, almost transparent. Under a magnifying glass, you can see tiny feet. Count only the mature mites. We were using a random grid, but lately we draw a big cross on the board, right through the oil and debris, and then divide that area again into 4’s to make counting easier. Just count the 4 shaded squares and add them together. This is not scientific, just quick and easy. Take that number, multiply it 4 and then divide by the number of mites by 3 (for 3 days). We start getting concerned when we have a mite drop of 50 mites in 24 hours
Dividing board for counting mites.
Bee with Deformed Wing Virus.

Closely check your hive for bees with Deformed Wing Virus. Eric Mussen, California State Apiculturist at U.C. Davis,  wrote to me in the year 2000, “The problem is that a colony can handle up to 10,000 mites with little damage or loss of productivity if the mites are not vectoring RNA virus diseases. If the viruses are around, only a few hundred mites will be devastating.” If you see deformed wings, take action immediately.

 

Scraping sugar andmites into a trash bag.

#2. The Combo Board works very well with using Powdered Sugar Dustings. We have been using Powdered Sugar Dustingn (more information here) with incredible results and the Combo Board facilitates its use, with the extra large space to pull the board out. This prevents scraping the sugar and mites to the ground.

 
#3. Remove the board entirely. Beekeepers all over the world have been removing their bottom boards and allowing the mites to fall to the ground with wonderful results of not having to medicate. Having no solid board again brings many opinions. There is a study from Canada,where they found open bottom boards in cooler wet areas actually caused the varroa mite population to double due to the cooler conditions delaying the hatching of brood and allowing the mites to reproduce again in the capped cells during those few extra hours. The report also said there was great success with hives kept in warmer, dryer areas of the country. We give you that option.

If using powder sugar with open hive bottoms, cover ground underneath hive with tray or cardboard to remove sugar. Once the powder cakes up, the mites will walk on it and the bees are attracted to the sugar and could get reinfested.

 
No Mess. Canola oil, brush and clean container with lid. Keeps hands and gloves clean

#4. Using the floorboard as a traditional solid floor. When we thought of this feature, we were finding that it was recommended that you clean the sticky board once a month, where we were cleaning it off once a week. Just knowing of the hygienic nature of bees made us feel we were making them live over a cesspool of their own waste. We felt if you couldn’t maintain the traps, it might be better to close the bottom up and let the bees take care of their housekeeping.

 
THE POWDERED SUGAR METHOD AND OUR EXPERIENCES
 

Use about a 1/2 pound (2cups) of powdered sugar per hive.   It is recommended that you  separate the  brood supers, dust the one on the bottom and then stack the second one on top, dust again.  We have treated our hives with powdered sugar both ways successfully.  For the first 4 months, we did not separate the supers, then we did, each way captured and removed many 100's of mites.  We have not had to treat during a honey flow. Sift the sugar on top of the frames.   Brush the powdered sugar from the tops of the frames to between them.  We used to wait an hour and removed the first accumulations of sugar and mites from the boards.  Now we wait about 24 hours to removed the first flush.   We carry a trash bag and scrape them with a drywall knife (plastic ones at Home Depot for $1.19).  Re-apply the oil on the sticky board and reinsert, close and lock the door.

On a very infested hive, you will see over 1000 mites the first time you do this. We are treating our hives this way 3 or 4 times this spring, 7 to 10 days apart to try and catch the mites in the capped cells as well as on the bees. As we are still in the experiment stage with powder sugar and on our more infested hives, we might continue to do this until we are only getting a few mites. We are scrapping the sugar into trash bags, as we do not know the consequences of leaving it on the ground. Ants could be a big problem. The mites all seem to die. Most mites are desiccant sensitive and dehydrate easily if covered with powder. If you do not remove the sugar in 24 hours, it will turn into icing and cake up (probably the oil-sugar combination) and the mites will walk over the sugar and not be trapped. Even with the extra large space between the floorboard and screen, there is a change the mites could walk up the walls and get pass the notches and reinfest the bees, not likely, but always a chance. We plan to do this treatment again in mid-August instead of Apistan.

2 cups sifted powdered sugar for the whole hive
Powdered sugar needs to bee bone dry and lump free.
Sift powder sugar on top of frames of both brood supers at the same time.
bees attract powdered sugar to themselves.
Brush powdered sugar between the frames.
Bees will clean up all of this sugar in a day or so.

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