bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Friday, October 07, 2005

When half a loaf is little better than none

A further update on my varroa mystery: I've spoken to one of the beekeepers who moved hives into my area and it transpires that he was using a treatment which claims to repel rather than kill varroa. (In fact my sources tell me the treatment claims to be a repellent mainly to avoid the need for registration -- it does in fact kill, but at rather low levels which I can't see as being much help at all.)

So, in short, if people use these sorts of inadequate treatments they and neighbouring beekeepers may suffer. Circumstantial evidence, I know, but it's seems pretty persuasive to me.

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Anonymous Friend O Cat's said...

Why is the reasoning behind your belief that the low level of pesticide is causing problems in your apiary? Can you be more specific?

5:47 pm  
Blogger Turlough said...

My neighbouring beekeeper probably thinks he was doing a good job managing varroa numbers, but I think he has in fact been building up a reservoir of varroa. Since bees drift and rob and since drones are out-and-out vagrants, his reservoir of varroa is likely to spread into nearby colonies. And worse still, when colonies get overloaded with varroa, it seems there is a tendency for them to disintegrate and disperse into neighboring colonies.

So I think a well-meaning beekeeper has unwittingly been breeding varroa and sharing them around.

9:56 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems unlikely to me, simply because by the time the colony was infected badly enough to cause the kind of symptoms you're seeing . . . it would be dead.

I rather prefer your initial theory related to the "visiting" colonies at the borage.

9:59 pm  
Blogger Turlough said...

I'm not sure it's a straight either or answer. If my visiting neighbour had treated effectively, varroa numbers in this area would likely be very much lower and probably my affected colony would be fine. If he hadn't treated at all, his colony might have died off (earlier) last winter and he might have had no bees to bring to the borage.

11:46 pm  
Blogger Turlough said...

Just one more comment for clartity -- as I understand it, the death of colonies is usually marked by the evacuation of the remaining bees -- loaded with varroa -- and bound for nearby colonies with their unwelcome passengers.

The colonies just don't die, they disintegrate and spread the cause of their demise.

2:46 pm  

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