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Chemically treated hive going natural

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New Bee

Joined: 12 Apr 2014
Posts: 3
Location: Bristol, UK

PostPosted: Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:15 pm    Post subject: Chemically treated hive going natural Reply with quote


I have a friend who has been given some bees. They have just been treated with one of the aweful chemicals for varroa. This friend would like to go natural, and not use any chemicals. I'm worried that because these bees have already been treated, the varroa will drastically rise as a result of the weekened bees and strengthened varroa if not ever treated again. Can anyone suggest any additional steps to limit the increase in varroa from an already treated hive please?

Thanks so much,

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Site Admin

Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1857
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Heather and welcome

Firstly, if these bees have just been treated then at least they should be ok as regards varroa until at least next year.
I think it is important not to get too entrenched in the idea that all chemicals are bad. Whilst we try to move away from using them on this forum and find more natural alternatives, there are respected members here who still use them and to be honest, the whole world is made up of chemicals, so it really just depends on what level of treatment you are comfortable with.

I would imagine that most if not all of the bees we ALL own have originated from colonies that have been treated with miticides at some time or another (I certainly used to treat my own hives with them when varroa first arrived in the UK and I'm very doubtful that they would have survived if I had not, so I would encourage you not to be so radical in your views on them.

That said, I am currently starting my 6th year treatment free, although sadly I am going to see some losses this winter..... it seems that it has been a bad year for varroa.

Anyway, my advice would be to let them swarm next season (there is a thread somewhere on the forum about using a Russian Psion to lure/catch swarms) as having a brood break in the spring/summer is really important for the bees to help regulate the build up of varroa. Also, it will hopefully mean that your friend will go into winter next year with 2 colonies. In my experience young colonies from swarms can go a couple of years treatment free without too much difficulty, if allowed to swarm themselves the following season.

There are also various methods and more natural chemicals which can be used instead of the manufactured miticides, but in my opinion it is important to only treat the bees if and when the varroa mites are approaching a critical level, rather than doing it routinely. Some of the management methods like sugar dusting and shook swarm, seem like good "natural" options, but in fact are pretty disruptive and intrusive to the bees and I think the time of year is an important factor in using such techniques. I am reading good reports of using oxalic acid vapour, but I have not tried it myself and safety precautions need to be taken as it is hazardous stuff for people.

I am currently leaning towards a treatment free, live and let die approach but watching a hive in terminal decline is not a happy experience, so I may change my mind next year. Having done a shook swarm on a colony which had problems in August but has shown no signs of picking up, despite a mild autumn and lots of feeding, I would rather they died by their own hand than by mine, so to speak.

Hence, my caution not to be too entrenched in one idea or course of action or totally opposed to another. There is no right or wrong way, just what is best for you and your bees.

Best of luck to you and your friend and her bees.


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Paul Reyes
Nurse Bee

Joined: 14 Aug 2014
Posts: 26
Location: Scottsdale, AZ, USA

PostPosted: Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice post Barbara, Thanks for the information.
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