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These bees are wintering in PF-100s that were drawn and filled this year. I normally avoid wintering on new comb
Disturbing a cluster late in the season greatly increases risk of loss over winter.
This is Hive #5 in our ongoing oxalic vapour treatment observations. These hives are all in BeeMax EPS boxes.
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The thermometer shows plus four degrees Celsius Before dawn this morning and the snow is melting. I'm a little worried about the rink. Jon and the kids arrive tomorrow, and Christmas is now only five days away.
This warm weather will increase bee activity and will probably increase the varroa drops today. At this point, I have no idea how many mites remain in the test hives. Time will tell. If a pattern in the drops does not reveal much, then maybe I'll insert some Apivar to try to see how many are left.
The problem, as I see it, is that the weather has an influence on mite treatments due to changes in bee activity and clustering, and I don't know if there is information on how well Apivar works on bees in winter clusters. I also don't know how it is affecting the oxalic results. The literature recommends treating with vapourized oxalic after the brood rearing ceases in late fall or winter, but at that time, the weather gets sufficiently cold around here to confound the issues.
I'd give credit for the above image, but the email that displayed it gave no source.
Activity in the is increasing in the forum and I'd love to see more people posting there. I see quite a few are reading the messages. Is there a problem registering or posting? If so, please write me.
Observant readers will notice the bump in drops from hive two today. I had noticed quite a few dead bees on the entrance and raked out the bees from the screen, using a wire. I got a total of maybe 100 bees, but probably knocked down mites from the accumulated bees and from the screen.
Today was warm and I was outside in shirtsleeves, washing the van.
Sharon and Fen came for supper and Sharon stayed over.
BEE-L is quiet these days, but the forum is busy and I spent some time writing there this morning. Sharon left around 9. I plan to pick Jonathan and the kids up at YYC at 5 this afternoon and will leave early to do a little shopping along the way.
In the data chart above, I coloured the days during which brood was no longer seen to be emerging, deduced by absence of callow mites, in each hive with light green.
I had expected that daily drops would be approaching zero now, after all the oxalic we have used, but at this point, the drops from hive two are essentially unchanged from Day -1. Hives five and six seem to be down, but the others show only a modest change from the start date.
Of course, a lot of mites were raised during the early part, and the mites have all come out of the brood since then, but I still expected to see a more distinct result. At this point, Randy's comment that I need controls to establish if the treatments have had an effect seem to be right on. Since this was not intended to be an experiment, but merely a monitoring of treatments which have been shown by others to work, I did not begin with controls.
When plotted logarithmically (above), a pattern is more obvious, but when we consider the temperature drop over the period resulting in less activity and tighter clusters, that bees have died off, resulting in decreased bee populations, and that the clusters have moved up in the hives, we cannot for certain determine the cause of the diminished drops. Also, this chart is the average of six hives, and averaging conceals details.
Coming days will reveal more, but I am wondering whether to treat again with oxalic or whether to use the five strips of Apivar I have on hand -- or both. Will Apivar work well if the bees are tightly clustered? Can I predict the weather well enough to treat at a good time? Which hives should I treat with what?
Looking at the data,
* * * * *
I drove to YYC, stopping along the way to look at beds.
We have a queen memory foam mattress that we bought five or six years back, and we do like it, but we are also thinking that with all the company visiting lately that we should get another bed.
I stopped in Airdrie at a furniture warehouse and looked around. I got to talking to the salesman who says he has sold beds for 40 years. Having been a sales manager for a while myself, that made me think. Anyhow, I did see some beds I like and can afford and I think I'll hook up the trailer and go get one.
When it was time to drive the last ten miles (yes, miles) to the airport, I turned on the radio and learned that some fellow had chosen this moment in space and time to wrap his car around a pole north of the airport in rush hour and that the freeway was closed northbound from the airport. No problem southbound, I thought, but did not compute the detoured traffic.
I arrived at the airport ten minutes late, but apparently Jon and the kids arrived twenty minutes late, then had to go thru customs, so I got to sit and wait and be waved on by the commissionaire when I was waiting at the curb. He was very kind person and not at all pushy. I did move on a few times, and circled only to sit again, pushing the limits. He said nothing and when Jon and the kids finally appeared curbside, he gave them each a candy.
We had planned to shop on the way home, but, being an hour late, we drove straight home.
Tomorrow is the first day of winter and the California kids are loving the snow. Maybe it is beginning to feel a bit like Christmas.
First Day of Winter - Three Months until Spring
Here are the currently active forum topics. Feel free to jump in.
The drops today are below one mite/hive/day on average, the lowest yet. I think it has partly to do with the low temperatures and the resulting tight clusters. We see more mites when the weather warms and the mites are brushed loose from the various obstacles to dropping.
Jon, the kids and I went shopping in the afternoon. They needed to get some presents, I intended to buy a new bed, so we took the trailer along. We returned after supper with our missions accomplished. The trailer worked perfectly and the entire queen bed fit in beautifully.
The above report is very interesting. Makes me think.
I cleared of the rink this morning, then checked the drops. We are in a warm spell for a while, so if I plan to use a finishing treatment of another oxalic evaporation, this would be the time.
In examining the data, it seems that hives two and four did not respond well to the last Heilyser treatment, for whatever reason, so I am tempted to do them again and maybe two others for comparison. I could put Apivar in the two remaining test hives. I also need to check the screens for dead bees that could be affecting the counts again.
* * * * *
I've decided. First, I'll rake out any dead bees and then I'll change the drop boards.
After that, I'll use the Heilyser devices on four hives and put Apivar in two more as below:
Here's my reasoning: I want to put Apivar into a hive that is still dropping mites and one which seems to have few. The rest will get oxalic just to see if it has any further effect. I will use four grams of oxalic and I will close up the hives this time with burlap and plugs for fifteen minutes.
I went out at around 1:30 and did the hives. I used a wire hook to brush the dead bees off the screens, then pulled the drop boards to see if I had dislodged any mites. I was a bit surprised to see white dust on the boards, brushed off the screens. I'm guessing that when I evaporated OA under the screens from the drawer, some of it precipitated on the screens. On the ones with the white powder, I also found a considerable number of mites had been held up by the screen, apparently due to the OA accumulation. Here is the result of the counts.
I'm not sure how to account for these in my spreadsheet. I'm assuming they accumulated since the last treatment, so I'll just add them to today's drops. We are starting a new series, anyhow. That will show up in tomorrow's report.
I think I saw several paler mites, but no immatures.
I inserted Apivar into hives one and five (left and right) and did the rest with oxalic vapour. The process seems somewhat random in that some of the units evaporated all the dust, but one had a residue of melted OA in the bottom (lower right) after being activated for the same two minutes as its twin on the other side of the same hive. I've been using two per hive since I discovered they don't work well with more than a gram and a half in them.
The bees were fairly active when I went out, but I smoked all the hives several times to get them moving and circulating air, then treated. I plugged the entrances up with burlap and lifted the drop trays to reduce the cracks there. I put plugs in the upper entrances, too.
A little vapour came out and the hives were far from airtight, but I figured I should try doing things the way they are recommended by two manufacturers. I left the hives closed for ten minutes or so. No fog came out when I opened them and I did not encounter OA any in the air around the apiary this time.
Hive six had bees on the bottom board when I first approached it and we know the cluster is on top from my examination last week (Dec. 18), so it seems they were very active today, ranging through three boxes. After being fogged and opened, unlike the other three hives I fogged, they came out and flew around a bit. Some landed on me and they were not angry at all and they seemed to have no problem returning to the hive.
Well, now we are into something new. We have treated four of the six test hives with oxalic vapour again using the Heilyser device and two with two Apivar strips each as a finishing treatment, just for those who think it is necessary to prove something that I assumed had already been proven in other tests. I update everything and the charts have been worked over and marked up for clarity.
The most surprising thing (maybe not) is the minimal change in drops today. Perhaps this is not so surprising though, since we noticed that the Heilyser treatments were slower-acting than the Cowan oxalic foggings, and maybe there are just not that many mites left to drop. The next few days should show us a trend.
We took the kids out sledding behind the 4X4 again this afternoon. The weather continues mild and has been around zero all day.
The turkey is in the oven, and tonight we haste our Christmas dinner and open presents.
Ellen was ill during the day and slept most of it, but well enough to be up for supper. The kids enjoyed skating after dark by van lights last night and went skating just as the sun set. I set up the large halogen light set to provide illumination.
I figured it is cheaper than idling the van for an hour. These modern machines turn the lights off automatically after a few minutes if they are left on without the engine running. That is wonderful if they are accidentally forgotten, but no good for skating.
We opened presents and went to bed early.
Normals: Max: -5°C Min:-16°C
The thermometer reads plus five at 5:30 this morning and I'm glad we did not flood the rink last night. We had thought of doing it since there are a few divots, but elected instead to take a bucket of hot water and fill the holes. That worked well the night before and at this age, the kids don't notice the difference. Small amounts of water on the surface freeze quickly, but a skim over the entire surface could be slushy. As it is with a warm day, the ice will be soft. The kids won't mind, though, and warm weather heals the surface naturally.
It is our tradition to go skiing in the mountains each year on Christmas Day. We've missed a few times over the years, but our intent was to spend today at Nakiska. It is looking, though, as if we will be staying here to spend the day with El.
The drops today are still low. Hive four is still a bit elevated, but the others are not very high. Previous treatments dropped 188, 181, 44, and 54 on Day Two, so the 10 drop we see today is a considerable reduction., The next few days should be interesting. Obviously, there are still mites in these hives. I did not notice any young mites today.
We took the kids out tobogganing behind the 4X4 again and then had a long walk. The weather is beautiful.
Jean and family are off to Chris' sister's for the afternoon, then headed back home. The rest of us have to get some groceries. In a few minutes (Ta Da!) I go out to get the mite boards and do a count. This should be interesting, one way or the other.
The mite drops were pretty much as expected. Hive four continues to be the curiosity, with the biggest drops. Hive three, which we all expected to be the troublemaker seems to have its mites on the run.
This Day 3 cumulative count weighs in at 24 mites, vs. 293, 307, 104, and 70 in past treatments.
Today's comments are continued in the forum.
Jean and Chris left before lunch. In the afternoon, Jon and the kids and I went tobogganing with the truck again. Then I drove to town to buy some groceries. It turned out that Three Hills stores were all closed, so I drove to Drum, taking the long, scenic route. I was at Nacmine before I realized that had forgotten my wallet at home. I turned out my pockets and found I had $6 and change, so bought eggs, since that was all I really needed, and drove home.
This morning began warm before dawn, but the temperature dropped to minus three and there is a cool breeze now, at 10AM. Nonetheless, the conditions are roughly as mild as they were during and after the other treatments, but we are not seeing the same amount of mite drop.
On Day Four after this last treatment, we have 29 cumulative mites dropped per hive (average) compared to 385, 423, 167, and 104 after previous treatments, so the trend is definitely down.
Expressed as a ratio, Day Four cumulative drops from each of the five treatments are 13 : 15 : 6 : 4 : 1
So much for the forecast. It is sunny at 10:30 and the temperature has dropped to minus nine. The bees are warm enough, though. I heard a buzz when I exchanged the drop boards. I see more debris than usual today, indicating the clusters have been uncapping and moving around a bit.
What can we make of the drop results? At this point in time, I am agreeing more and more with Randy that controls would have been helpful. We can see that several hives seem to have reduced mite levels to near zero but as he pointed out, maybe the mite load would have reduced naturally over time when the hives are broodless.
The Apivar is not having much effect, yet, as it has dropped zero mites in Hive Five, and no more than were already dropping before the Apivar insertion into Hive Two. Maybe it takes a while to act, but we have now had it in for five days. I got to wondering if it had lost its active ingredient, so I asked on BEE-L.
I'll have to beg some new, active product from my friends.
Interestingly, I saw several mites with definite coatings of oxalic today, along with the very dark mites I usually see after an oxalic fogging.
The oxalic appears to have had an effect on Hives Three and Four. It is hard to say about Hive Six. Hive One did not seem to have much to drop.
We're still above freezing here at 7 AM and our snow is vanishing. Jean and Mckenzie are here as are Jon and his kids.
I see the drops are increasing today and it seems the Apivar is beginning to work in Hive Two.
Day Six drops after each treatment have been 529, 586, 243, 136, and 36. Several hives are dropping near zero, but three still have significant drops.
Expressed as a ratio, Day Six cumulative drops from each of the five treatments are 15 : 16 : 7 : 4 : 1. It is interesting how close to constant this ratio has been over the past few days.
That is the average, however, and the individual records are far less coherent.
First, a table of actual numbers of mites dropping after each treatment, added up on Day Six:
Next is a table of the ratios of those same numbers calculated by dividing all numbers in each row by today's drop, the last number in the table above.
For example, Hive One dropped 325 times as many mites on the first treatment compared to today's number, while Hives Three and Four dropped only 7 times as many mites after the first fogging as they did after the last treatment.
Can you see rhyme or reason in this? I can't.
Here's a good example of how things can and do get screwed up in a test. When I picked up the boards, I may have mixed up the boards from five and six, The hives are not in order in the yard and I have to pick up four boards from one pallet which has 2,3,4 and 6, then two from the second pallet which has 1 and 5. I have to remember to put the 5 board above the 6 each time when I pick up 1 and 6. Today, I was entering the drops and saw a 38 for 5, which has been dropping zeros, but has Apivar and so may have suddenly had some drop, BUT 6, which has almost always had a drop showed zero. My guess, and I will go with it for now is that I mixed up the two boards.
I've been catching up on my books and other little jobs today. The kids and their kids all went skiing. I'm here because Ellen has been ill, so I have some time alone. I'll have lots of time alone after the 3rd, when Jon leaves. I still hope to get to the ABF meeting, but the prospect does not look good.
I've been looking at the forum, too and also contemplating stats. I got to thinking about this post and my reply, and was looking at this image from the IPM workshop in Feb (Yep, I was procrastinating in my bookkeeping). That got me think about correlation and I came across this excellent website which shows clearly why I am so, so suspicious of the regressions people show in their presentations and their treatment of outliers, anomalies, and errors if they do not also show the scatter. When they do, I often privately take issue with how they decided to interpret the data.
Although statistics are very useful when used properly, they can be abused terribly and be a scientific-looking method of accidentally or intentionally injecting subjectivity and bias into results.
In the examples given at the above linked site, I would always ask, what are these outliers? what is different about them other than their refusal to fall within the scatter of the rest of the population? Do they indicate a lack of homogeneity or an abnormal distribution?
The weather is predicted to stay warm for the next week. We have, so far had a very mild winter. The predictions were for a colder than usual winter, but so far, the opposite has been the case.
He says, "Here's the link. Great information in this paper and it is current. Must read IMO."
I see that to download, one must register on the site. Here is the thread where the file was posted. Anyone can read the thread without registering.
I picked up the boards and looked again at the anomaly from yesterday. I pick up the boards in the following order: 2,3,4, 6, from the first pallet, then 1 and 5 from another pallet. I place the board from 1 on top of the stack of boards that have been collected and the one from 5 above the board from 6 in the stack. Looking at the data, the most probable error going by the trends and considering my routine is that I mixed up, not 5 and 6, but picked up 6 before 4 by mistake. That would preserve all three trends, so that is the order I'll use.
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