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Integrated pest management systems for varroa control -care to share?

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I know there was a post on this up here years ago but it doesn't seem to have had any activity in years. Looking to adjust my varroa treatment plan to safegaurd against any issues in the future and help with general hive health and varroa loading. Just wondering if anyone would care to share their pest management plan.

 

Ahh, and I should share mine, I guess, straight Apivar in Spring, bayvarol in Autumn at the moment but looking to add additional 'organic' treatments in to insulate against any resistance that might come or reinfection from other beekeepers locally who aren't treating or are under treating.

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True IPM is very difficult as our products need to meet residue limits which stops us waiting until the hives 'Need' treatment....

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I would be interested to hear about peoples varroa management plans as well - I appreciate that these will vary depending on the nature of the operation, acceptable time & expense spent, tolerance for hive loss etc. but it all helps to build a picture.

 

One of the things that I'm picking is that with varroa present, the honey collecting time available is quite sharply defined, with Apivar strips coming out at end of October and (by the sounds of it) Apistan/Bayvarol strips going in end of February. If you want to collect honey from earlier than end-of-October blooms, I guess you have to rely on treatments other than Apivar?

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. If you want to collect honey from earlier than end-of-October blooms, I guess you have to rely on treatments other than Apivar?

You just add them earlier.....

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You just add them earlier.....

but then you have to adjust autumn treatment as they will need treating earlier and it can be quite a lot earlier.

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Tristan made a comment a while back about winter issues just being summer issues that werent properly dealt with.

Or something like that

I agree with that and see a future where Varroa control isnt so hamstrung by honey production.

This means less Synthetics and more early treatment with honey on.

Thymol is obviously out till Autumn.

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but then you have to adjust autumn treatment as they will need treating earlier and it can be quite a lot earlier.

 

100%

 

Tristan made a comment a while back about winter issues just being summer issues that werent properly dealt with.

Or something like that

I agree with that and see a future where Varroa control isnt so hamstrung by honey production.

This means less Synthetics and more early treatment with honey on.

Thymol is obviously out till Autumn.

I have often wondered how many autumn failures have actually been partial spring failures....

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Its easy to think your hives are going well in summer when in reality they are just outrunning their woes.

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I know there was a post on this up here years ago but it doesn't seem to have had any activity in years. Looking to adjust my varroa treatment plan to safegaurd against any issues in the future and help with general hive health and varroa loading. Just wondering if anyone would care to share their pest management plan.

 

Ahh, and I should share mine, I guess, straight Apivar in Spring, bayvarol in Autumn at the moment but looking to add additional 'organic' treatments in to insulate against any resistance that might come or reinfection from other beekeepers locally who aren't treating or are under treating.

 

This is what we've got going at the moment:

- Drone frames (the green plastic ones) in each hive for culling out drone brood,

- Mesh floors - either as part of a pallet or Hive Doctor, Corflute boards sprayed with canola oil under each hive. People knock mesh floors but I regularly see live mites on the corflute

- Apivar (Spring),

And then:

- Other treatment unsure yet (Autumn)

- Oxalic acid vaporiser - as required on a hive by hive basis,

- MAQS also available to use if necessary,

Regular sampling via sugar shake test from each apiary from late Oct.

 

Always willing to learn other approaches.

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People knock mesh floors but I regularly see live mites on the corflute

while natural mite fall is good, overall it really doesn't drop the mite numbers enough to make an impact.

as a method for checking mite levels it can be useful.

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Ok - so I'll stick my neck out. So I do the spring and autumn treatments the other way around from most. I think my reasoning is sound, but I am sure someone will be keen to point out if it is not.

 

Spring (about now) Bayvarol. In hives for 6-8 weeks (taken out during October).

Autumn (same day the honey comes off, generally somewhere second half of Feb) Apivar. In hives for 10-12 weeks (March-May).

 

Why?

Spring Bayvarol - has a fast knock down effect so any mites that have overwintered will drop dead early. Shorter term treatment so strips are out before honey goes on. If I miss a strip, Bayvarol has a registration for use with honey supers on the hive, so I'm covered legally (note I WOULD NOT make a habit of this due to residue risk). Mite pressure is generally lower now than autumn, so I have less chance of a mite issue getting away on me and I am exposing a "risky" substance for resistance development (flumethrin in Bayvarol) to lower Varroa pressure - this is a standard recommended approach in management of resistance of insects to agrochemicals (if you have products that are risky, use them at a stage of the season with lower pest pressure).

 

And most of all - If/when I have a resistance issue, it will be immediately obvious as the hive won't be building and I'll have increasing spring temps, to help alternative treatments (probably formic acid). I'll also have access to extra brood and new queens to fix any problems. If resistance has to happen, I'd rather find out in September/October than April/May.

 

Autumn Apivar - as long as it goes in early (day the honey comes off) mites won't typically be at such a high level that the slower-acting amitraz can't catch up with them. Amitraz also appears less prone to resistance, so there is less risk of it not working and therefore less risk of entering winter with mite/virus pressure in hives.

 

And most of all - the length of control of amitraz (Apivar) means that I am covered for the long warm autumn period with high Varroa risk/pressure and decreasing bee populations. It is clear that for strong spring colonies, we need healthy, fat bees going into winter with low virus/mite load. I think beekeepers run into issues where they treat in Feb/Mar with a short-term active, then temperatures keep trucking along just fine through May and even into June with Varroa still breeding - so then what do you treat with, if you want to keep something up your sleeve for spring? And if you realise you've got a problem in a colony, how do you replace a colony at that time of year? As @tristan pointed out somewhere, it seems at least plausible, if not likely, that spring problems are an extension of autumn problems that were not detected and/or properly dealt with.

 

If I have an issue - MAQS are my preferred option. Big guns, but I can replace any queen issues after using them in spring, formic acid gets into brood, generally they only need to be used once and I don't have to keep revisiting apiaries (like you do with oxalic acid). If I see any kind of issue with mites in spring following Bayvarol, the plan is to immediately deal to it with MAQS, which hopefully helps reduce resistance development (the resistant mites left behind after Bayvarol use all get killed and therefore can't spread into the remaining population). I ALWAYS keep MAQS in my truck.

 

I'm not a fan of oxalic only due to frequency of treatment required.

 

I'm still undecided on thymol - will keep playing with it this season to see what it offers.

 

I don't remove drones as I think its a little wasteful and doesn't add a lot to the rest of the programme. All my breeding sites kinda need good drone numbers as well.

 

I don't monitor for mites - don't have time to have multiple treatment dates within multiple apiaries. @Mark Goodwin will probably shoot me for saying that, but it is the reality. I watch for brood/bee health, DWV presence etc.

 

Incidentally, I also supplementary feed in a reasonably heavy way. I think both syrup and pollen sub in spring and autumn really help - stronger hives with proper nutrition are in a better position to build in spring or winter well.

 

Also exclusively use Hive Doctor bases. Don't know whether that helps mite control, but certainly doesn't hurt.

 

I don't have a Varroa issue. But I'm as worried as anyone about the problem continuing to become worse. Hence my support for the IPM project - we need more/better tools and an understanding of how the pieces all fit together.

 

Appreciate the exact timing above won't work everywhere around the country, but the underlying approach probably would.

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Autumn Apivar - as long as it goes in early (day the honey comes off) mites won't typically be at such a high level that the slower-acting amitraz can't catch up with them.

thats not always the case.

but that all depends on your location and other management etc.

 

the downside of apivar in autumn is it may not work quick enough on some hives. this is where timing, as always in beekeeping, is fairly critical. fast acting treatments are better in autumn as they will knock the mites down quickly.

but something like bayvarol/apistan, if there is a lot of resistance, or an alternative treatment which is a bit iffy, theres very little if any time to find the problem and retreat.

 

its a tricky thing, but in the future its going to get worse. we all need to up our game on this.

 

I watch for brood/bee health, DWV presence etc.

keep in mind, lack of deformed wings does not mean there is not high level of DWV.

with brood damage, you really shouldn't be getting to that stage. thats right up at the point of no return.

 

As @tristan pointed out somewhere, it seems at least plausible, if not likely, that spring problems are an extension of autumn problems that were not detected and/or properly dealt with.

there is the flow on effect. what happens in autumn effects spring, what happens in spring effects the rest of the season.

you either fix the issue or knock the hive on the head.

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Over December-January I like to sample drone brood, taking maybe 50-100 drones and checking for varroa. Just a few does not seem to mean much, but lots means there is a high load, and I put in the autumn treatment (Bav) earlier, or do a sugar shake to check or delay if possible.

 

No proof that this works, but seems to have logic and drone sampling is much quicker than sugar shakes.

 

Early autumn treatment may mean quite a gap before spring, awareness needed.

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Autumn is tricky here. Warm weather and plenty of hives all around , which don't get treated the same time as mine.

Last Middle of Feb, when the honey came off , apiguard went in straight away. A couple of weeks after it came out, sugar shakes revealed a high mite loading in some hives, so I retreated with MAQS. This nailed the mites and all hives went into winter strong , although some queens became drone layers over winter. I did not see damage to queens from MAQS, but it definately kills some bees, and the ventilated floors need to be cleaned off of dead bees after the 1 week treatment .

I am always keen to only treat hives that are over the 3 mite per 300 bee threshold, and although I start with good intentions, coming out of winter with falling populations and hives at high risk, I treated everything over the last couple of weeks with MAQS, because I like them.

I've lost too many winter hives in the past with Oxalic vapour, to mites, so

I only use it in swarms , or brood less hives, in theory. Others have success, so I suspect my delivery may be at fault, but there is no doubt, Oxalic gives a big mite fall .

I really have not perfected my IPMP, and there is always room for improvement

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you either fix the issue or knock the hive on the head.

@tristan your comments, constructive as always, but in this case casting a negative light on what is a thorough and generous contribution from @Pinnacle. Perhaps @tristan you would share your IPM strategy for the benefit of discussion.

 

I've only just started an IPM approach so it's too early to conclude anything really. As a hobbyist I'm subject to different constraints to commercial. My focus at present is on sampling; looking to improve speed and reliability, and on accurate record keeping. Sampling for now is monthly for every hive. In terms of tools I have a four tier (untested) system. No mites = no treatment. Less than 1% gets OA vapour once every month. 1-2% gets OA weekly. Greater than 2% gets MAQS. After MAQS and still greater than 2% will get synthetic while any supers are removed.

 

This is my first season taking this approach. It may fail. The thresholds, methods and tools employed may change. My hope is to find a workable regime whereby I can eliminate, or at least significantly reduce, my dependence on synthetics.

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I cant bite my tongue long anymore... (lol) IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management.... Using a mixture of Physical, biological and chemical remedies for protecting a crop..... So instead of just focusing on chemicals and calling it IPM, Lets talk a little more about physical and biological controls?

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Ok - so I'll stick my neck out. So I do the spring and autumn treatments the other way around from most. I think my reasoning is sound, but I am sure someone will be keen to point out if it is not.

 

Spring (about now) Bayvarol. In hives for 6-8 weeks (taken out during October).

Autumn (same day the honey comes off, generally somewhere second half of Feb) Apivar. In hives for 10-12 weeks (March-May).

 

A good number of us on the East Coast do the same @Pinnacle

Bayvarol about to go in now. Apivar in autumn and some add a thymol-based treatment at the same time to allow for the apivar to get going.

 

Somewhere on the forum is the reasoning for apivar in Spring (something like slower acting so dose grows with the increasing varroa - or something like that) and bayvarol in Autumn . . . but I've forgotten it!

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Lets talk a little more about physical and biological controls?

Biological control for varroa? You've got my interest ..

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Biological control for varroa? You've got my interest ..

I am not a scientist.... So about the closest thing I can think of is either a predatory mite (if such a thing exists) or breeding bees that are more resistant....

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Top post @Kiwifruiter

 

Some have already mentioned drone culling. I know @Matthew Brajkovich has some experience with small cell and creating brood breaks. There was talk about solar treating hives, a while back - did anyone give that a try? Then there's shook swarm (not for AFB ;)) and of course brood culling/artificial swarming.

 

This last one interests me. I have one hive almost on the threshold of needing synthetic treatment. If the threshold is met, perhaps instead I remove all brood, replace with drawn comb and continue with OA vapour. Easy to do at this time of year when brood numbers are relatively low compared to bee numbers. Hmmmm

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or enhanced VSH...

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Biological control for varroa? You've got my interest ..

There was, was it, I dunno, a false scorpion? Something-o-laelaps? There were a few tried it but it seemed the control wasn't as easy to keep alive as was hoped. Maybe if we could make a hive more supportive of the scorpion thingy?

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Top post @Kiwifruiter

 

Some have already mentioned drone culling. I know @Matthew Brajkovich has some experience with small cell and creating brood breaks. There was talk about solar treating hives, a while back - did anyone give that a try? Then there's shook swarm (not for AFB ;)) and of course brood culling/artificial swarming.

 

This last one interests me. I have one hive almost on the threshold of needing synthetic treatment. If the threshold is met, perhaps instead I remove all brood, replace with drawn comb and continue with OA vapour. Easy to do at this time of year when brood numbers are relatively low compared to bee numbers. Hmmmm

Its a risky time of year to do it... Right now your brood is replacing the winter bees which will be dieing out over the next few weeks (Maybe not this year with breeding right through) However that is the main concept behind drone removal :-)

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Its a risky time of year to do it... Right now your brood is replacing the winter bees which will be dieing out over the next few weeks (Maybe not this year with breeding right through) However that is the main concept behind drone removal :)

So maybe the answer is a temporary split. Create a queenless spilt with the brood using a division board. Queen stays with the main hive and empty frames. Continue to treat both with OA, remove any cells and once all brood has emerged recombine the hive. I'm certain this is not a new idea. More Google required.

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The pseudoscorpion thing came to naught as did the Hypermite thing

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