Sunday, March 23, 2008

It bites to have mites

I overwintered my hive with drone comb, and I am wondering if that may have been a mistake. The first inkling of this is when I noticed that my mite drop was higher than I would like (about 25 mites in 24 hours), so I decided to do a sugar dusting and pull out the drone comb. Luckily for me, most of the cells on the drone comb were still capped. This means that that most of the mites were still in those capped cells and had not yet hatched. I pulled out the drone frame and replaced with with a new drone frame of drone comb. I am somewhat lucky with the timing, if I had waited until after these drones hatched, I would have a healthy crop of mites on my bees.

In addition to swapping my drone frame, I also dusted the bees with powdered sugar. Hopefully, today was a big setback for the varroa mites in my hive and a big boost to the health of my bees.

I also gave the bees some light sugar syrup (two parts water to one part sugar) to boost production of new bees. I had noticed that lots of bees were getting water from a nearby bucket with rainwater. When bees are gathering water, that is a sign that brood production is underway (and also a sign that there is no nectar flow underway). I want my bees to raise lots of new bees so they can gather nectar to make honey, but I don't want them to build up too soon so that they swarm. I am walking a fine line, I suppose.
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