If you saw my post on Varroa Bombs from this spring, you read about how my Purdue hive likes to rob from a neighbor’s hive when they are sick and dying. Well, they did it again.
When I did the sugar shake on this hive on June 29th, they had 2/300 varroa mites. On August 25th when I check the hive, I saw a couple of bees with deformed wing virus (DFW). A sure sign that the varroa are becoming a problem. I had seen the varroa ramping in one of my other hives, so I expected it would be a similar simulation — that hive had 19/300. When I did the sugar shake yesterday, it was off the charts. I counted 91/300 varroa. I had to take a picture and count them on the computer screen because there were so many that I couldn’t count them while they were moving around in the water.
I’m hoping to save this hive. In addition to the DWV, I saw some evidence of sacbrood virus. I did an oxalic acid spritz to the frames with open brood to try to give those nurse bees some relief and to also prevent varroa from getting into the cells with the brood. I also added apiguard to deal with the varroa in general. And I’m feeding the hive to help with the stress and hopefully to keep them from absconding and adding more sick bees to the trees. I may just close them in for a while to make sure they don’t abscond.
I’m hoping that my other hives are not being affected by this outbreak. People ask me why I keep my hives so far apart and this is one of the reasons. There are 4 reasons. Helps cut down on robbing behavior, helps keep hive drift down, bees are not so defensive, and if you get a sick hive, there’s less chance of it being spread.
The sick bees from next store continue to come to try to rob from my bees. I have robbing screens on 2 of the hives that are usually targeted. They are fighting my bees through the robbing screens. I have apiguard on one of the hives but need to check the other to see if mites are getting in through this robbing behavior.
The other side effect of sick bees are they are much more aggressive. They have started to go after the farmers as they plant in the adjacent field and that’s not acceptable. I don’t know if it’s my Purdues or the neighbor bees attacking, but another reason to lock my bees in would be to give the farmers a break.
In my notes for monitoring, I’m going to start doing sugar shakes at least monthly starting in June. I had been doing it every other month and that’s clearly not enough. Learning is hard. This year the lessons have been brutal.