- Animal Products: honey
- Crop Production: beekeeping
The health of the honey bee is an important cornerstone to all facets of agriculture. One major pest of the honey bee is the Varroa mite, which clings to the bees and feed on body fluids of adult and developing bees. Besides causing deformed bees, this contributes to the distribution of viruses and aids diseases through compromised bee health, weakening individual bees and often overwhelming the entire colony.
Project objectives from proposal:
This is a proposal to continue SARE FNE08-646 for a second year, as the fall of a second year is when Varroa mites have had enough reproduction time to cause significant problems for the honey bee.
We expect to demonstrate improvements in honeybee colony health and strength through using a middle entrance for the beehive.
By relocating the hive entrance from the bottom of the hive to above the brood nest, we expect to reduce the population of Varroa mites in the hive. Mites do fall off bees, but in a typical hive, they land on the bottom board and may catch a ride back into the brood nest on other bees. By putting an entrance above the brood nest there will be fewer bee rides.
We have established 20 colonies in July 2009 with different hive configurations and have been monitoring hive weights and 24 hour Varroa drop rates bi-weekly. Theses hives required constant syrup feeding through to October to prepare for winter and weight gains were generally even. The feeding method was to place the syrup in accessible containers in each hive. Variations due to entrance location would not be expected to affect weight gain rate as much as when the bees are foraging for nectar.
Varroa drop rates indicated a very low but increasing mite load which is consistent with newly established colonies. We expect that next fall the Varroa mites will have had a whole season to multiply and become a problem to the honeybees and the advantages of different hive configurations will be more observable.