I’ve found 3 young bees and 2 drones with deformed wings in the past week. One of the drones was so badly affected his body was misshapen as well. Varroa mites go for the drones first because they are bigger and easier to live on their bodies and in drone brood, but the fact that I’m seeing young bees getting kicked out of the hive with shriveled wings (pictured above) suggests I have a large Varroa mite problem at this point.
Varroa mites are a very common problem for beekeepers. Many treat with Miteaway strips (formic acid) and/or some use other methods such as a powdered sugar treatment or interrupting the brood cycle with some hive management. This is my first experience with these mites and I do have some miteaway strips which came recommended by my bee class instructors as being highly effective; however, there is evidence that Varroa mites can become resistant after a couple of years of using this treatment. The strips must also be used in 50 to 80 degree temperatures, and we’ve had a couple 79 degree days already. I need to decide quickly what my course of action is going to be, if I intend to split this hive, and before the temperatures are consistently above 80 degrees.
Which leads me back to my goal and the whole reason I got into beekeeping to begin with. Honey bees are in trouble in so many ways and I really want to try and have a positive impact on them. To me, it is important for my bees to be treated as naturally as possible and to be as genetically strong as possible to fight through all the ailments that are out to get them. So now, my question.
Do I treat them this first time with Miteaway strips since I know I have a big problem right now, nip it in the butt for this year, and then learn and perform the other more natural treatments for next year? Or do I dive into these more natural treatments now with the chance that they aren’t successful on my large mite problem and risk losing these bees that worked so hard to live and survived the harshest winter we have seen in a long while? I don’t know…but I’ll let you all know what I end up doing.
Aside from the mite problem, on this beautiful Mother’s Day, I’m about to become the proud new owner of another hive! My package of bees is arriving today some time between 3pm and 10pm. If it arrives so late, I will probably install them tomorrow after I get off of work.
More photos of my new hives coming soon!!