Drone frames and varroa control

We are making some progress on mite control for this fall. We stripped the boxes off two more yards yesterday, gave them Apiguard, and went to two other yards to give their second treatment of Apiguard. One of the good things about treating in August is that warmer temperatures make the bees more active and the Apiguard disappears quickly. In one location near Montezuma, it only took five days for many of the bees to devour the applicator card. September temperatures can turn much cooler and Apiguard crystals might stay in the hive for ten days or more.

Apiguard is our main mite treatment, but Dad and Alex used some drone frames to capture some of the mites in a few yards back in the springtime.

The open space with no foundation invariably gets filled with drone comb, and the queen generally cooperates by laying it full of the burly boys. Since drones develop for a few more days inside the cell than workers, varroa mites have evolved to prefer drone brood over worker brood. The idea behind the drone frame is that once the drone cells are capped, a good portion of the mites have found their way into those cells. The success of the operation depends on pulling out the drone frame before they emerge on the drones’ 24th day. Failing to pull the frame, however, results in actually boosting the varroa population rather than reducing it. This method is best suited for spring when the bees are typically building comb and inclined to raise large numbers of drones.

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