I’m going to tell you what I do to treat for mites.
My method was developed over a couple years of being a complete failure at it. I’m not one of those beekeepers who acts like I know everything about everything. I’m the beekeeper who will tell you that I’ve pretty much made every mistake you can imagine in keeping bees. Maybe that’s just how I learn?
Year one, I decided I wasn’t going to treat for mites at all. It was overwhelming thinking of putting chemicals into my hives. I lost every one of my hives. They all absconded. Absconded is when the whole hive leaves, not ½ the hive in a swarm. Hives absconding is also called the dreaded colony collapse disorder. At least that’s what I think CCD is!
The next year, I decided to just hang Apivar strips one time for 42 days and just one treatment for the whole year. I was able to keep a good 1/4th alive with this method.
I never did the sugar roll or the alcohol wash. I figured the mites are there, what’s the point?
This year I decided I was really going to step up my mite treatment big time! I ordered mite away quick strips (MAQ) and an oxalic acid vaporizer.
The MAQ strips never showed up. I kept getting told they were on back order. By the time my supplier said they could ship them, it was too late. If you hang these strips in your hive and the temperature exceeds 85, it can kill your entire hive.
I did an OA blast early in Spring, but only one treatment. So, what now?
I have supers on a couple of my hives. I’m going to wait for the flow to be over, remove all supers and do an oxalic acid treatment once a week for 3 weeks. I’ll do a mite count before and after the 3 treatments.
In order to get the most effective mite count, I will do the alcohol wash. I know it'll kill some bees, but killing some for the sake of the whole colony is something I can live with.
I will not provide instructions on how to use the vapor gun in this blog. Please do some research on this. It’s important you learn how to apply this treatment safely. After that, I’ll hang apivar strips for 42 days.
I want to kill all the mites present on the bees bodies, (OA does this) and the mites sucking the juice out of the pupea inside the capped brood cell, (Strips do this) The strips hang for 42 days, which will cover 2 life cycles of a bee being born.
If you decide to be treatment free, I’m not going to judge you. Your bees are yours and you can do whatever you feel is right by them. I know a few beekeepers who are treatment free and do very well at it.
If you join a bee club you will find beekeepers that do things very different than me and each other. It's important to figure out what works best for you and your bees.