Showing posts with label treatments. Show all posts
Showing posts with label treatments. Show all posts

Friday, 13 July 2012

The Empire Strikes Back... Apiguard vs Varroa

The previous episode of BeesofSpike ended with a pretty sorry colony of bees blighted by a rather nasty infestation of the varroa destructor parasite.

A new BeesofSpike worker afflicted with varroa

Varroa can very quickly destroy a colony so LandofSpike needed to start medicating his bees straight away.
The batch of Apiguard that he had ordered online was not due to arrive till the next week, which would be too late.
However, one emergency trip to the not-so-local Bee Supplies Shop across town later, and this was no longer a problem. 

So before he set to work dosing the hive with his newly purchased bee medicine, there was just time to find out about Apiguard.
What is it and what does it do?

Varroa Destructor does not like this

Apiguard is a shallow tray of thymol in a slow-release gel which is placed in the hive.
It's the thymol which is the active ingredient. 
It kills the varroa mites.
A treatment period runs for 6 weeks and uses 2 trays of the stuff.
The first tray is left in for 2 weeks. 
It is then replaced with a second tray which is left in for a further 2-4 weeks.

The bees themselves distribute the thymol around the hive. They see it as something which should be removed and whilst the house cleaning workers are busying themselves cleaning it away their activities distribute it to every part of the hive, and therefore to every varroa mite.

The distribution happens more efficiently in warmer temperatures as the thymol sublimes more quickly and is easier for the workers to detect.
The varroa particularly dislike the thymol vapour.

Housekeeper bee cleaning away thymol. Vapour can be seen disabling varroa

Varroa, at the moment, has no resistance to thymol.
Some strains of varroa have already developed resistance to some pyrethroid varroa treatments but the non-specific effects of thymol on the varroa mean that it's likely to continue to be an effective deterrent for the foreseeable.

Currently, Thymol is LandofSpike's favourite chemical

Before the treatment, LandofSpike removed, cleaned, oiled and replaced the varroa board.
the varroa count was 67 individual mites across the whole board which amounts to 33.5 per day over the two day period.
This is way too many.

Waaaaay too many varroa

Inserting the Apiguard was pretty simple.
LandofSpike and BKJ1 suited up, fired up the smoker (not particularly brilliantly this time, must work on our technique) and smoked the entrance.
The roof and top feeder were removed and the brood box smoked.

BKJ1 tests his smoker

There was time for a quick inspection to reveal that, although still small and beleaguered by rain and varroa, the colony was making new honey and pollen stores. Also, the queen, although not spotted this time, was laying new brood.

The Apiguard pack was opened so that all but one corner of the foil was removed and the lid was folded back. The open tray was then laid on top of frames 4, 5 & 6, above the most active part of colony.

Opened Apiguard tray laid on top of broodbox frames

A super was placed on top of the brood box with the corresponding super frames removed to make space for the Apiguard tray.

The queen excluder was left out out for the time being.
The reasons for this were:
a) to give the bees clear access to the Apiguard tray, the QE may have acted as a barrier.
b) to give the bees unchecked access to the top feeder if they needed to use it.
c) it was decided that there would be little risk of the queen starting to lay in the super frames as there was as yet no comb on them, just foundation.

The entrance reducer was fitted partly to stop too much of the thymol vapour escaping that way and also simply because our small colony didn't really need that big a front door in this grim weather.

I'm sure this door used to be bigger...

The base of the hive should really be shut during treatment to trap the thymol vapour inside but that isn't an easy option with the EPS hive so, with the varroa mesh screwed in place, the varroa board approximates a partial seal.

With the thymol installed, the roof and top feeder were replaced on top of the new super and the hive secured with its strap.
Mission accomplished.

As a little schoolroom addendum to our in-the-field account, here's a little extra theory.

Instead of using a super to make space for the Apiguard, LandofSpike could have used an eke.
An eke is simply a shallow, and hollow, 4 sided box, the same dimensions as the hive, which fits above the brood box and acts as a spacer so that the tray of Apiguard can sit on top of the frames in the newly formed space between the frame tops and the queen excluder or the super.
Without an eke to make the space, well, there's just no space.

An eke is so-called because with it you can 'eke out' extra space

LandofSpike now knows that one of the drawbacks of the EPS beebox is that it doesn't have a designed-in option of fitting ekes into its system.
Which is a bit pants.
However, this becomes an opportunity for LandofSpike to put his legendary carpentry skills into practise and supplement his EPS hive with a custom built, homemade wooden eke.
It'll be ready for winter when we'll again need that space above the brood box to house a big lump (that's a technical term) of fondant.

So with everyone now up to speed on ekes, even though we haven't got one yet, and a big blob of thymol sublimating nicely on top of the frames we can rest assured that the housekeeper bees are just starting to distribute the stuff around the hive. 
Best of all the varroa are just starting to get a nice big dose.

You can run but you can't hide, my pretties...

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Season of Mists and Mellow Forgetfulness. Part 1: Ghastly Beasties

Last Autumn's Teachings now seem like they took place a geological age ago. So ahead of this Saturday's Actual Bee Encounter, LandofSpike has been retracing his steps back into the mists of time... well, as far back as last October at least.

LandofSpike has divided this account of Apiary Central's Autumn module into two separate Posts, theory and practical. 
Theory first, so stand by for LandofSpike's flimsy and lightweight rememberings of BeeGuru1's introduction to Parasites, Predators and their Treatments.

BeeGuru1 waded straight in with tales so grisly that if bees had ears to hear, and could understand the Queen's English, then their blood, or more precisely their haemolymph, would have frozen instantly in their little veins, if they had veins, rendering them stone cold dead from terror in the time it takes to say "Chalkbrood Mummies".
Poor old Mister Honey Bee, there are things that'll eat yer from the outside inwards and things that'll eat yer from the inside outwards. Dismemberment, Infestation and a Ghastly Death lurk round every dark, hexagonal corner.

The current most popular unpopular menace is the Varroa Destructor Mite, a nasty little spod which puts itself about a bit. The clue is in the name, the Destructor bit. It'll destroy your colony if you aren't on the ball with your beekeepery skills and potions.
The Varroa Destructor Mite is a nasty little spod

Among the other dangers, Wax Moth and Chalkbrood look pretty horrible, European Foul Brood isn't as bad as the American variety and Braula Coeca looks like it'll be under control if you get your Varroa treatment right. 
The ever-lovable Wasp will raid the hive for honey and will also dismember and drag off live bees to feed their own brood.
A dishonourable mention goes out to the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder, and Mice aren't above a bit of hive destruction when they fancy a free feed or a warm and dry larder in which to spend the winter.
Also beware the hungry Woodpecker who can make a devilish mess of a hive in short order.
The ever-lovable Wasp prepares to raid the hive of the unsuspecting Honey Bee

Not all threats to the bee are deadly though and thankfully BeeGuru1 also detailed the many and varied treatments which the beekeeper can use to keep his hive happy and healthy.
However, the treatment for the horror that is American Foul Brood is pretty brutal in itself... Dig a big pit, chuck in yer bees, hive and bee gear, pour on the petrol and lob in a lighted match. You can stop short of burying the remains at a deserted crossroads and driving a stake through it but you get the picture. AFB is pretty nasty. 

Well, that's it for an extremely sketchy précis of last Autumn's introduction to Bee Botherers.
LandofSpike will be covering individual Predators, Parasites and How to Treat Them in greater detail and in glorious technicolour later on in the year when he gets some hands-on experience, and a bit more knowledge, of the little blighters.
The unhappy Apis mellifera mellifera infested with Varroa Mite

Didn't even mention pesticides... or destruction of habitats either.
Plenty of time for that later though.

Part 2 of last Autumn's Teachings, which will be along shortly, will cover what LandofSpike can remember about preparing the Bees for their winter break.