Varroa Mite in Honey Bee Colonies
In previous blogs I have mentioned that I place one shallow frame in each brood box. For some reason the bees build comb hanging from the bottom bars of the frame and the queen only lays drone eggs in this comb. Drone brood is the prefered breeding ground for the varroa mite. If you use this method it is an ideal way to control varroa in the spring. Once this drone brood is sealed and there is ample other drone brood within the hive, I cut off the whole section of drone brood hanging from this shallow frame. If you follow this method, it is essential that you remove this drone brood from the hive before the drones emerge. Failure to do so and you will have an infestation of the varroa mite.
Further details of this method are in the book. Beekeeping: A Novice’s Guide www.beekeeping-book.com
I did an inspection of all my hives Monday, before the rain set in. I removed some drone brood, which was sealed on the bottom of these shallow frames. I also found one shallow frame, which had drawn comb from last year, filled with drone brood. I wasn’t expecting that, proving bees don’t always do what you want or expect them to do. Later I opened the cells from the removed comb with a un-capping fork. Not pleasant to see the nearly fully formed drone bees. However, by doing this, I was able to inspect the drone brood for live varroa mite. All bee colonies have varroa, at present it cannot be aradicated, only controlled. I was pleased that I only found one live varroa mite from this removed drone brood. Again this shows me that my autumn treatments of each hive with Apiguard and subsequent inspections of mite boards for dead mite in February, are working.
Having inspected the drone brood I freeze it in a sealed plastic bucket for a few days then leave it out for the birds. They soon pick through the larvae for a tasty meal for themselves and their young.
Many of you will not have seen live varroa mite and I hope you don’t get to find too many in your own hives, but you will find some.
I attach photos of a house sparrow enjoying drone larvae, varroa on drone brood larvae and a mite on the back of a honey bee. The two mite photos were not taken from my colonies.