mentioned in the last newsletter, if you plan on not harvesting a honey
crop for yourself this year, you should be treating your bees. If you do
plan on trying to harvest a honey crop, you should treat your bees
IMMEDIATELY after harvesting. Whatever you decide to treat with
(Apigard, Apivar, or others) please be mindful and follow the
prescription faithfully. If it says treat every 10 days, treat every 10
days. Do not wait until after then to treat, because your treatment will
then not work.
A beekeeper should always know the mite levels in their hives. This is
important because unlike letting Mother Nature take course, the bees are
dependent upon you to keep them healthy and mite-free. Once in a while
you might end up with sickly bees, and in that case, they will not
survive. Generally speaking, you are the only thing in the bees' life to
help them stay mite-free. You can generally get a good reading of how
many mites are present in a colony by doing a mite wash. Take a few
frames of bees (make sure the queen is not on those frames) and scoop up
a jar of about 300 bees. Then pour isopropyl alcohol in the jar and let
it stand for about 3 minutes. This will instantly kill the bees in the
jar, but like Seth has said, you sacrifice 300 bees for determining mite
counts instead of loosing your whole colony to mites in the winter.
Slowly dump the bees and alcohol out and leave a little alcohol left at
the bottom. If you have mites you should see small red pepper flakes
sitting on the bottom of the jar. Those red pepper flakes are mites.
Count the number of mites you have. If you have more than 15 mites then
you have a large infection rate. This is the most accurate way to
measure how many mites your colony possesses.