Loading... Please wait...

Powdered Sugar Shakes

Mite questions and Powdered Sugar Shakes.

I wanted to post the letter and my answer here:

Hi, 

I bought two of your screened bottom boards and first off they are a great product.  I have been using the powdered sugar treatment at 3-4 day intervals since the 14th.  One of my hives each time that I have done it there has been a pretty substantial mite drop.  I am just about to the point where I feel like I need to give up on the powdered sugar and use one of the mite treatment products (really don't want to though),  I was just wondering in your experience is there a point when I should abandon the powdered sugar and treat? I really wanted to avoid chemicals but am starting to fear for the health of my bees through the winter especially being that I am located in Michigan.  What are your thoughts?

 Ryan

 

Hi Ryan;

   Thank you for your note.  Sounds like you have very infested hives and dusting every 3 days for 3 weeks is the norm for knocking down your load. The fact that you are seeing a substantial mite drop in the powdered sugar is a great sign, you are obviously dislodging them from your bees.

   The powdered sugar dusting is used in 3 week intervals, because that is the life cycle of the mites.  From the time you start to the time you finish, you are targeting mites emerging with the hatch brood and capturing them before they have a chance to re-enter 8 day old brood prior to capping.  Powdered sugar does only capture 34% of Phoretic (outside the capped cells) mites at a time, where products like Hopguard and Thymol products take down most of the available mites.    These are the products that you would most likely use in the summer time.  I have not tried these products being able to keep our mite loads low with just powdered sugar. We start dusting in Feb/March for 3 weeks if necessary (you can tell in the first dusting if you have a high load.  If we don’t see mites, we don’t do the 3 weeks and then dust again in May, and then again in July.  This year, we didn’t see mites until July.  We  dusted every 3 days for 3 weeks and got our load down where we will not dust again until September when we pull our honey.

   You haven’t gone through the whole 3 weeks yet,  your last dusting would be August 4th.    August 15th is our cutoff date in California for taking care of mites.  That’s the date that you must do something by (if you haven’t done anything else prior) to drop your mite load so you have healthy winter bees to get you to spring. 

   Randy Oliver is our beekeeping instructor and what he does is on August 15th he uses a Thymol Product, then in early October he uses the Formic Acid Strips (I think they are called Mitaway) and then in November when we go broodless, he uses Oxalic Acid dribble.  And that’s it until next August.  http://scientificbeekeeping.com/the-learning-curve-part-3-the-natural-miticides/ has more information.

   

 If you continue the powdered sugar dusting to August 4, then take a sugar shake sample.   

       You will need a wide mouth quart mason jar or mayo jar, a closed lid and a screened lid (I use a seed sprouter lid that just screws on, but you can make your own by using 1/8 screen cut to the top of the jar held down by a canning screw ring,

Make sure you know where your queen is and keep her safe.  Shake bees from brood frames into a large bowl. Keep tapping the side so bees slide to center.

Scoop about ½ cup (about 300 bees) into jar with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Close the top with a canning lid and screw ring or jar lid.  

Gently shake for about 2 minutes. 

Wait a minute then shake  gently again.

 Put on Spouter lid (or screened lid).

Then shake the jar over container of water.  Sugar will dissolve and mites will float on the top.

Release bees back into hive.

In the summer time, I want to see less than 8 mites in that water.

Randy Oliver has a great mite sampling page on his website http://scientificbeekeeping.com/fighting-varroa-reconnaissance-mite-sampling/    

      At this point, you will know what your mite load is and if it’s still high, I would recommend one of the soft miticides like Hopguard and follow Randy’s recommendations.  Next year, you can get an early start on dusting your bees to keep your mite loads down.

 In summeI want to see less than 8 mites in that water. You will see more in the fall, less in the spring.

Randy Oliver has a great mite sampling page on his website http://scientificbeekeeping.com/fighting-varroa-reconnaissance-mite-sampling/    

      At this point, you will know what your mite load is and if it’s still high, I would recommend one of the soft miticides like Hopguard and follow Randy’s recommendations.  Next year, you can get an early start on dusting your bees to keep your mite loads down.

  Have a great day,

 Janet

Email newsletter