Pest Control Is Working!

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Well, the effort to use screened top and bottom boards for mite control, along with Spearmint oil sugar patties and my other organic methods seem to be working!  I just checked the hives and they are all doing well, with no sign of Small Hive Beetle infestation or other problems.  I put a sticky board under Colony C to check for Varroa Mites.  After 24 hours, I removed the sticky board to do a mite count.  Anything less than 100 Varroa Mites stuck to the board is considered to be an “acceptable” level of infestation.  I had a count of five Varroa Mites!  Since bees travel and forage, they contract the mites from contact with other foraging bees, or pick up mites left on nectar and pollen sources by infested bees.  As such, you cannot avoid some level of infestation, you can merely attempt to control it.

Even after this severe drought and the late start for the bees, I’m considering the summer a success.  They are healthy and are being given plenty of sugar syrup for winter food.  There is some foraging activity, so I know they are collecting nectar and pollen…all essential to overwintering.  Now, I just have to wait for Spring and hope they come through as well as it now appears they will.


Nothing But Drought

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Well in excess of 30 days with no rain and daily temperatures exceeding 100 degrees.  It’s been a difficult season for all forms of agriculture here.  Especially stressful for new package bee colonies, such as mine.  I have continued to feed sugar syrup throughout the season, since the bees were put into the hives.  Likewise, I’ve medicated using essential oils.  Colony B, started from the nuc in May is quite strong and healthy.  Colonies A and C, started from package bees, continue to hold their own, but are not as strong as I would have expected them to be under normal seasonal conditions.  I’ll feed heavy 2:1 sugar syrup to them within the next month, giving them more winter food stores.  I’m hoping for a short, mild winter, following this long and miserable Spring and Summer seasons.  No excess honey at all this year, but if I can overwinter without losses from pest, disease and Colony Collapse Disorder, I’ll consider my effort to be a success.  I have had a “perfect storm” of challenges, starting the bees this year, but as always, I’m going to be optimistic for a better year, next Spring!