Sticky Boards and Varroa Mites
The rain falls again. We've had torrential rains overnight all week, and today it is falling during the day. 90+ degrees and high humidity have spawned thunderstorm after thunderstorm. I was en route to pull honey with Alex when the skies opened again. Dad started going around with sticky boards a few days ago to assess our varroa load, and it looks like we need to get rolling with stripping the hives and inserting the treatments. I used to aim for Sept. 1 for that job, but our bees seem much healthier in springtime if we begin treatments in late August. Here is a picture of the sticky board coated with vegetable oil about to go under the hive. When the mites fall off the bees they are trapped and we can estimate the overall mite load. (There needs to be a protective screen on the sticky board or the bees will just clean it off, hiding the actual mite count.) The pallets we've constructed in the past couple of years have screen-bottoms, so we just slide the sticky board onto a couple of slats positioned under the screen. Then the mites fall through and the bees can't clean off the board. For our other styles of bottom, we just paperclip a screen on top of the sticky board. Sometimes the bees still manage to clean them off when the screen is too tight against the board. These days, varroa management is the main issue in keeping bees alive from year to year, so we try to stay on top of the parasite load.