13 Apr 2011
My bees have varroa mites, so we showered them in powdered sugar on Monday.
Varroa mites are parasitical bugs that prey upon my beloved fuzzy, honey-producing bugs. They can absolutely destroy colonies if not treated, so as soon as I saw evidence of infestation, it was time to act. I don’t have any of the pesticides or medications for treatment on hand, and you can’t order MiteAway in New York yet, so I followed the advice of one of my mentors and started organic varroa management for now.
My hive has a screened bottom board, and I check for mites by putting a piece of cardboard covered in spray oil under the screen. Supposedly the powdered sugar makes it harder for the mites to hold onto the bees, and inspires the bees to go wild grooming themselves, which helps shake off the mites. Having a screen instead of a bottom board lets the mites fall through instead of landing on a board from whence they could just climb back up.
Also, it was really just fun! We showered every super in powdered sugar, turning it into a winter wonderland of a beehive. What a beautiful fairy tale!
The ladies all burst up out of the hive covered in sugar, like snow bees!
For maximum effectiveness we really ought to sugar the bees weekly for the next few weeks (and set up a frame with drone brood to pull out and freeze, among other varroa management techniques). Anyone calm around stinging insects and good with a camera feel like coming with? I’d love to get better, clearer photos of this process.