Early diagnosis of Varroa
Although making a bee productive depends on several factors, a particularly important one has to do with the control of Varroa at desired levels inside the hive which is one of the important causes of reduced honey production worldwide.
- If we look at one Varroa from behind it’s another 100. The mites are usually invisible because the only place they can pierce the bee’s shell is between the rings of their abdomen where it’s very hard to see, so even if the whole thing is there you don’t see it, you see a small part that migrates to another bee or brood at that time.
- Of their total population, the largest percentage is in the brood and not on the bees
- The infestation varies significantly from bee to bee, so we cannot easily draw conclusions from 1-2 bees.
- Weak and small bees may indicate the problem, it may not be a coincidence that they are small or shrinking.
When and how is the diagnosis made?
There are several ways and experience plays a role in this.
As much reference as when we would say that we should always have our mind looking at the bees. However, because Varroa multiplies exponentially according to the rise of the brood in the bee, it needs SPECIAL ATTENTION and control when the brood of the bee is reduced or zero and the bee is preparing at that moment to raise the new generation of brood. This happens mainly 3 times a year in our country 1) Late Autumn with the beginning of Winter 2) After the Firs/Acorns and others in June and early September after the first Hand of the Pine, these are key moments that we should pay attention to in the diagnosis of Varroa and of course to take advantage of them to fight, then we hit the problem at its root, so to speak, effectively.
At this point according to the fight we have and as the mite will start its reproduction together with the next offspring there are the following versions:
- Good control: The small Varroa population that exists begins to reproduce and does not significantly affect the bee in its operation because the ratio of Varroa/Bee and Varroa/Brood is low. So it may not be necessary to fight immediately, but we are waiting for the moment when the bees will have the least possible brood again (E.g. after the Firs, after the Pines).
- Moderate control: Varroa population has been controlled but not to a good level and in the spring for example the bee even if it grows cannot develop to its maximum and loses to a certain extent its productivity due to the size and shortening of the life of the collectors that carry mites. When we realize the problem, we must do an appropriate treatment that covers a spectrum of at least 20 days since in the presence of brood the Varroa is mainly in the sealed brood, so that we have productive bees and then re-do a correct treatment of our choice as soon as the brood is minimized after some harvest potential.
- Poor control: The Varroa population has not been controlled to a significant extent and as a result leads to colony collapse. This happens when almost the entire population of the mite goes into the little brood that the bee begins to make. The result is that almost the entire next generation comes out useless to see cutters, so the bee has no new bees to replace the old ones with the result that the colony collapses and is lost day by day, often seeing frames with abandoned brood because there is no population to it warms him. When this happens things are difficult, and a lot of damage has already been done, and if repeated treatments are not done immediately we risk losing bees. If we keep them alive they may not have the chance to become productive for a long time. Clippers= Serious problem= Immediate actions.
How do we diagnose?
- Scholastic observation of the bees themselves. We choose a few sample bees from the apiary and lift frames that the sealed brood comes out at that moment and observe the new pale bees that come out if they have a tick on their backs, and also if they have clipped wings.
- We cut and observe Horn cells: If there are enough horn cells at that moment, we take sample frames from bees and cut with a good knife several ripe horn cells in a row, then we shake them in a lid and see the drones as well as the empty cells in the frames, compare ticks to drones.
- With a control cup: In a cup with a net, we put a spoonful of bees from frames that have brood (watch out for a queen) and pour pure alcohol, shake it and strain it while observing the percentage of mites that are in the alcohol.
- We do sampling in bee treatment: We select a few bees and do a reliable treatment by putting thick paper with petroleum jelly on the bottom of the hive and observing if an appreciable amount of mites falls.