I was running out of time to split my hives. I wanted to put them in nucs to overwinter.
I love going into the hives and just looking. You can tell so much about a hive through observation.
In this particular hive, I saw a bee with deformed wings.
Side by side – you can see a healthy wing with the deformed wing.
Also, these are young bees because of the fuzziness on the thorax.
The deformed wings let me know that there are mites present – Varroa mites to be specific.
Now I needed to see how badly this hive was infested.
Another one with deformed wings…
But I wasn’t seeing any mites on the bees.
The mites are parasitic and the eggs are laid in the cells where they hatch and feed on the bee larva.
When the baby bees emerge, the mites have attached themselves to that bee.
Finally, a spotting of a Varroa mite.
And this mite was attached to a bee with deformed wings.
However, sometimes the bees show no outward signs but the mite is still attached.
This Varroa mite is on a very young bee – see how fuzzy they are??
They’re so cute when they’re first born! But I don’t like the sight of that mite.
That mite is about the size of a pin head. You can see them with the naked eye if you know what you’re looking for.
Typically I’ve seen mites on the top part of the thorax.
If I was going solely on wing formation, I might not have looked at this bee.
Varroa mites are not particular – they will climb on any bee.
The mite situation in this hive wasn’t severe but I’ll still treat.
I don’t use any kind of chemicals in my hives. I did when I first started beekeeping.
But after I lost a hive to the chemicals – in my opinion, I stopped using them. Also, I didn’t like the chemical smell in my wax even after I removed the chemical.
For Varroa mites, I shake powdered sugar throughout the hive. The bees go into a cleaning frenzy and start cleaning each other. I’ve put screen bottoms on all but 2 of my hives. When the bees start cleaning, the mites fall through the screen to the ground and there are all kinds of insects waiting for dinner to fall from “heaven.”
This is a basic overview of the Varroa mite. For more detailed info, check out these links:
This video is very cool with extensive info and actual footage on the life cycle of a bee and Varroa mite-
Good written overview: