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Using Powdered Sugar

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 such as powdered sugar and hygenic queens.  
    The Combo Board will facilitate most treatments available and is a complete bottom board  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 a paint brush or a roller. Insert the board into the lower slot, accessible from the front or rear after removing the outer door. Replace 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 on the center bar.

You might want to attach a string or ribbon to the hole .   

 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.

You could turn it upside down, but we are finding that oiled side picks up dirt from under the hive like a magnet.  Best to bend it, oil side up.

Checking  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.  What most agree on, test the same way each time and the most accurate is to do a 3 day count.
   Do not smoke your hives, this creates an unnatural  mite drop.  Insert your  oiled sticky.   Wait 3 day  and try to remove it the same time of day. You will see a variety of debris such as wax, pollen, 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 one of the 4 squares.  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 30 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 Powdered Sugar Dusting.
   We have been using Powdered Sugar Treatments since that spring of 2004 with incredible results and the Combo Board facilitates its use, with  extra large space to pull the board out. This prevents scraping  sugar and mites to the ground and messing up your samples.

#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 by Jean Pierre Chapleau, 'Les Reines Chapleau', where they found open bottom boards in cooler wet areas actually increased the varroa mite population to almost 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 a great success with hives kept in warmer, dryer areas of 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.  (This will not trap mites).
    Slide the plastic board on top of the screen, from the front entrance.
    Keep a weak hive warmer.
    When using a fume type product like thymol, oxalic or formic, sliding the board on top of the screen,  will keep the fumes in the hive and will protect the metal screen.


  Use about a 1/2 pound (2cups) of powdered sugar per hive.  Use C&H Powdered Sugar or make your own.  C&H has the least amount of corn starch in it.    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.
   Begin:  Remove supers until you are looking at the bottom brood super sitting on your screened bottom board.  Make sure the plastic insert is below the screen.  Sift  one cup of powdered sugar on top of all the frames.  No need to pull the frames out.   Brush the powdered sugar evenly  from the tops of the frames to between them. 
   Stack the second super and repeat.  
   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 in the powdered sugar the first time you do this. We are treating our hives this way 3 or 4 times this spring, 4 to 7 days apart within a 21 day periord  to try and catch the mites in the capped cells as well as on the bees.   Bees will groom themselves for several days, knocking off more mites.  Mite counts will not be accurate for several days after using powdered sugar.  
   The powdered sugar does not kill mites, although a few seem to sufficate. 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.
    Best time to dust.   Anytime mites are phorectic, very early spring on a sunny day is excellent.   Check your samples and if you see mites, dust again.  There's no where for mites to hide.
    When you have brood, you need to dust at least 3 times in a row in 21 days. 

     We do 3 part treatments:
        In spring when you see hatching brood.

        When we pull off our main blackberry honey in mid-July (we have a 3 week dearth before our thistle flow).
        And when we pull off our thistle honey in mid-September.
     If you can not get a mid-July dusting, the latest time before critial mite build-up is August 15th.  At that point, your hive is producing its winter bees, the queen has slowed down and drone brood has ceased.  That means mulitable mites in each cell containg working larvre.  This is the scenario that produces bees with deformed wings and seriously impacts your hive.    See our New Time Line!


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