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The 8 Second Sugar Dust Method

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Measuring cup taped to bee brush and 1/8" screen in frame.

The Oliver 8-second sugar dust method

This simplified sugar dusting treatment is no major breakthrough, other than that it’s quick (which places sugar dusting into the practical realm). The big question with sugar dusting is efficacy. I sacrificed one 4-frame collapsing colony to determine the efficacy of my method. In one hour, 34% of the phoretic mites dropped to the sticky board. I sacrificed the bees at that time, and washed all the mites off them. If I had allowed the dusting effects to continue, previous research indicates that mite drop would have been even greater.

This test was of only one colony, and I have not yet tried to replicate it, so do not base your mite management upon its results. It was so promising, however, that I will undertake large-scale field trials this spring. I plan to test both top dusting, and splitting the boxes, as well as testing a menthol-infused powdered sugar that I have developed.

I will write up the results, a detailed review of the literature, and a mathematical model on sugar dusting for publication in the April or May ABJ. The initial model suggests that dusting should begin as soon as bees begin rearing brood, and should be repeated weekly for zero mite buildup, semimonthly for very low buildup, or monthly to keep mites from reaching damaging levels in a season. I strongly suggest that you read my article on Strategy in this month’s ABJ first.

I am not at this time saying that powdered sugar dusting will be all the mite control you need. My inspection of others’ data and colonies is promising, though. Dusting will likely fit well into nonchemical IPM, along with other measures performed concurrently. This is just a status of research report.

The method:

Materials:

  1. A 5 gal bucket with screw top to hold the fine confectioner’s sugar
  2. A bee brush with a 1 cup plastic measuring cup taped to the handle.
  3. A wood rimmed moving screen of 1/8” hardware cloth
  4. Janet has my permission to publish the photo of materials on her website. I will release step by step photos and a video after the article is published.

Technique:

  1. Smoke the colony
  2. Remove the cover and smoke the bees down off the top bars
  3. Put the moving screen over the hive, then use the cup to spread 1 cup (appr. 100g) of powdered sugar over the cluster area
  4. Flip the brush around, and use it to sift the sugar through the hardware cloth
  5. Lift the screen, and continue to use the brush crosswise across the top bars the sift the sugar into the beeways.
  6. Replace the cover.
  7. Not every one will be able to do this in 8 seconds. However, my rather slow moving son was able to get it down to 10 seconds by his second try.

   Randy Oliver is Nevada County, California's Master Beekeeper.  He puts on classes every year, not only for our club, but travels all over Northern California giving intense one day beginner's and intermediate beekeeping classes.  He is a science teacher, a contractor, inventor,  has over 500 hives, breeds queens, sells nucs, does Almond Pollination and has a series of articles in The American Beekeeping Journal that have been and will be published.
   Randy asked Joe Graham of the ABJ to release some of his work before it's publish and Joe agreed that his information should be put out as soon as possible to benefit beekeepers.  Randy  has graciously allowed me to put his work on our website until he gets his site up and going.
    Thanks Randy.

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