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Mites and Mice

Last week we did another check of all the hives last week.  All were still doing well, brood was cooking and the hives were building up for the summer.  We had some brood placed between boxes so we inadvertently killed some pupae, it looked like drone brood so I wasn’t too bummed–we weren’t killing the work force of the colony.

I did notice one big fat varroa mite on the of the larvae.  Varroa mites one of the biggest problems in beekeeping.  The mites crawl in and attach themselves to the larvae sucking out hemolymp (bee blood).  They stay attached to the bee for a bit after it emerges from its cell, I’ve seen one or two of our bees with a mite here and there.  Mites are going to be in your hives and your bees can deal with a small infestation but a large infestation can lead to deformed bees and the death of a hive.  I only saw one mite and we decided long ago not to go extreme measures to treat the mite–ie medications so we just noted it.  There’s a method some beekeepers use to deal with mites–you pour powdered sugar all over in the hive.  Something about the powdered sugar makes it difficult for the mite to stay attached to the bee.  The bees also groom each other and keep grooming–removing even more mites and eating the sugar in the process–everybody wins.  There is some concern, powdered sugar has cornstarch  and is too much cornstarch harmful for the bees?

As we were checking out the deep insides of the green hive which seemed to be dealing with a little bit of moisture, I noticed a deer mouse near Non Birding Bill’s feet.  We removed the base of the hive and sure enough found another mouse nest below the hive.  I think the screen helped keep the mouse from chewing up into the hive but it still could have gone through the holes nearby and chew.

I lifted the screen, admired the soft little cup nest, then removed it.  I don’t want any mouse that close to the hives if I can help it.  It’s too much temptation for a mouse who might want to move into the hive next winter.

So far, all four hives are still alive with signs of eggs and brood.  If all goes well, we might actually get the 3 Russian bees we were supposed to get last year.  The are tentatively scheduled to arrive the first week in May.  Seven hives this year…yikes.

3 comments to Mites and Mice

  • Sandy

    Maybe the cornstarch helps keep the mites off? Otherwise, you can make your own powdered sugar by putting regular granulated sugar into a food processor. You just might need to sift it if it clumps up.

  • ragna

    I was just wondering the same thing as Sandy – it’s easy to make your own powdered sugar – but is the cornstarch a factor in powdered sugar’s effect on the mites?

  • Once again, I learn more about bees here and that is fun and interesting!