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Winterizing the hive, part 2: Varroa mite count

Varroa sticky board

Last week, I wrote about step one of winterizing our hives: checking on honey stores and feeding if necessary. At the same time I make my early fall hive check, I also move on to part two of the winterization campaign: testing for varroa mites.

Immature varroa miteI've written about how and why to test for varroa mites with a homemade stickyboard here. This time around, our Warre hive passed with predictably flying colors, dropping an average of only 9.3 mites per day. The bulkier Langstroth hive had quite a few more mites, clocking in at 31.3 mites per day. (Yes, I do count even immature specimens like the one shown to the right.)

In part, the Langstroth hive's higher mite count is due to the fact there are simply more bees present in that hive, but the infestation is still a little further along than I'd prefer. On the other hand, the last time I used non-chemical treatment for a borderline hive, I really regretted it --- after being dusted with powdered sugar, the bees got so pissed off about the intrustion that they absconded. So I'm going to try some rhubarb-leaf anti-mite strips, then test again in a month to see if pest levels are increasing or decreasing as the bees begin to slim their colony down in time for winter.

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