Thursday, December 4, 2008
Sweet! a tasty way to deal with Varroas
Another tactic to combat against mites is sprinkling powdered sugar on the bees (pictured). This causes them to groom themselves to get off the sugar, which keeps them clean and can remove the mites. They can then use it in the honey production process. Some beekeepers actually give their bees sugar water to supplement their diet (for instance during the winter). It makes for better honey if bees make it naturally, and we don’t really need to do that in California since things are in bloom all year.
A couple weeks ago, I did see one bee that appeared to have Deformed Wing Virus (DWV), which is carried by Varroa mites. Not good! But it could have also been torn wings.
Lastly, the ants are finally gone! Ants not only are attracted to the honey, they also eat the bee brood. Bees are somewhat powerless against them since they are too small to sting. Two other things were attracting them in large quantities: the powdered sugar residue on the ground, and the bits of wax and other sweet things that fall out of the mesh bottom (pictured). The hive is propped up on upside-down flowerpots inside plastic bowls filled with water to keep out ants. The problem is that the water evaporates pretty quickly. Bees and leaves also tend to fall in the cups creating a bridge for the ants. I tried putting chalk in the areas where there were trails of ants because that can cover up the pheromones. That kind of worked, but there were so many that I finally used some “Grant’s Kills Ants” poison, which is not harmful to bees, and I haven’t seen any ants since.