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Splitting hive lowers varroa mite population

Varroa mites on a stickyboard

Homemade sticky boardsBeekeepers more interested in the health of their bees than in honey production split hives as a matter of course each year to lower varroa mite numbers.  I did a sticky board test last week at the same time I'd done one the year before, and the differences were striking.  Here's what the count looked like on September 13, 2010, in our three hives:

  • East: 90 mites = 30 per day
  • Middle: 540 mites = 180 per day
  • West: 40 mites = 13 per day

I'm pretty sure that scattered honey stores were the cause of the demise of two of my hives last winter, but it's still striking to see who fell when --- Middle hive was dead in January while West hive died in March.  Perhaps the high mite numbers in the Middle hive were implicated in that hive's death after all?

Huckleberry "helps"East hive was my sole living hive this spring, which I then split, moving the old queen to create a new Middle hive.  Although East hive was the parent location, it's the daughter hive since the bees left behind had to raise a new queen --- that means they're the hive that started nearly from scratch this year.  September 18, 2011's three day sticky board count revealed:

  • East: 131 mites = 44 per day
  • Middle: 36 mites = 12 per day

Interestingly, it seems like more mites hung out in the daughter hive than in the moved mother hive.  Of course, the best news of all is that both hives are well within normal bounds, so I don't need to worry about varroa mites unduly weakening either this winter.  Since most beekeepers around here use chemicals as a matter of course to keep varroa mites within bounds, it's great to see that something as simple as a hive split can have such a good effect.

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