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IPM 4 Fighting Varroa4: Let me warn you, that kind of hubris taunts the mite gods, and they may smite you with a vengeance the next year! Any general would be foolish to commence a battle without first assessing the strength of his enemy. A beekeeper practicing integrated pest management against varroa is no different.
The problem with varroa is that by the time you start to notice mites on the bees during normal colony management, they may have already built up to a damaging level. Because of the difficulty of gauging the degree of varroa infestation during normal colony inspection, the vigilant beekeeper must sample his colonies for mites in a timely manner in order to determine what efforts he needs to be making to keep the mite population at a tolerable level.
That level will vary greatly by time of season, as detailed in my previous article on mite population dynamics. If the population exceeds the seasonal threshold, he would then apply some sort of treatment to reset it back to a tolerable level.
Determining the precise level of mite infestation in a colony would require sacrificing the bees and brood in order to count every mite. Since this is unrealistic in practice, what we must settle for is making an estimate of the mite population based upon a sample.
And that is the gist of the next sections. What are the best ways to monitor mite levels? There are three main ways of sampling the mite population: Natural mite fall caught on a stickyboard under a screen 2.
Brood sampling with a cappings fork Each way has its own advantages and disadvantages, and is each most accurate at different times of the year. Update 7 May My hands down favorite and most accurate and consistent method for mite monitoring is by the alcohol wash, using the swirl-type cups as described in Mite Washer, Still Improving.
The sugar shake would be a distant second. I want to keep mite wash counts for a half cup of young bees in the range early in the season, allowing them to climb to perhaps in September, and then back to the range going into winter.
Stickies Stickyboards are generally the most accurate and consistent method of estimating the total mite population, since they monitor the entire colony, rather than just a sample of the bees. I have since found natural mite fall on sticky boards to be unreliable as an indicator of mite infestation levels.
They are used to estimate the total mite population by catching the natural fall drop of live and dead mites from the bees. The natural fall is assumed to be a proportion of the total population.
Therein lies the rub: According to Martinone can estimate the total mite population by multiplying the daily drop by when the colony is broodless, or by when brood is present.
Other authors come up with a spectrum of different conversion factors. Stickies are the best sampling method during normal broodrearing periods while brood is emerging. Rolling Crisco onto sticky boards. A mini paint roller works quickly. The easy way to clean stickyboards—scrape with an ice scraper!
Prepared corrugated plastic sticky boards ready to go to the beeyard. They are stacked face to face in pairs. Be aware that the sticky count may not be consistent day to day, especially when mite drop is low.
Most authors recommend sample times of a few days. You may also get around this problem by sampling many colonies for a short period, rather than a few for a long period. In general, the more mites on the board, the more accurate the count.
The problem with long samples is that you get a lot of mites and hive trash! Counting itty-bitty mites is tedious drudgery although there are a few obsessive types that revel in itespecially if you are over forty.Here is the best resource for homework help with ECON Industrial Organization at Purdue University.
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