In February an inspection of our hives (sugar shake) revealed we had a large number of mites in one hive. We needed to do something to get rid of mites, but the only thing available to use at that temperature (weather temperature) were hazardous chemicals. We have never used anything that was not natural in our hives, so chemicals were not an option. Spring Bee conference was in a few weeks so I went to the conference with the intent of finding a natural way to take care of my bees without having to subject myself and the bees to very hazardous chemicals.
I searched the conference and asked questions and the only thing available to use at the current weather temperatures were strong chemicals, except for a product being introduced by Lynn Williams and Bee HiveThermal Industries. I spent time investigating his product and the research behind the product and decided to give it a try. Even though many of my friends were skeptical, I decided to give the product a try!
I bought the unit and used it on the hive with the infestation of mites. Since we have double deep brood boxes with a honey super for the winter, I separated the hives and used the thermal unit on each box; then put the hive back together.
All seemed well until three days later when the bees were hauling out all the larva out of the hive — much to my shock! The ground in front of the hive as well as the hive entrance was covered with larva to the point the bees could hardly get in and out. I cleaned the entrance several times to give the bees room. Then I collected a small number of the larva the bees were carrying out to examine closely and found 16 mites. I also examined the sample under the microscope and did not find any other problem other than the mites. Next I went into the hive to inspect more closely and found the bottom board covered with larva in various stages of development — my heart hurt. I did find a drone cell not yet uncapped and found a DEAD MITE ON THE LARVA. So the conclusion was that the bees were uncapping and removing the cells with dead mites; which was my goal to get rid of the mites!
To find out if there was something I was missing, I sent samples off to Beltsville Bee Lab. I am awaiting analysis on the adult bees, but they have not found any problem with the other samples I sent for testing.
Knowing this was a weak hive and the weather changing with a period of near freezing nights ahead, I left the thermal unit in the hive on “warm” mode, which keeps the hive at 90˚ F. This would keep the bees from having to work so hard to keep the hive warm as the weather cooled to near freezing temperatures.
It is now a month later and this hive has not shown a drop in flying bees, which I had expected given the amount of larva that was carried out of the hive. The hive is thriving in spite of all the brood that was lost; the queen has done a great job of repopulating this hive. The queen is one I had planned to replace when I first inspected the hive in February because of the laying pattern.
Throughout this process I have been amazed at how this hive has seemed to get healthier since the mite kill. The temperament of the hive is also much better! I have been comparing this hive to the hive that I did not do anything to, and there is much more activity in the test hive. There are more bees out and flying earlier in the morning. The number of flying bees has not shown a noticeable drop in spite of the loss of the larva.
In early January I lost a hive and feel that it possibly was due to mites since there was no other sign of a problem. The hive was a little weak going into winter and I made all the provisions I could to help them along, but lost the bees in spite of their bountiful honey reserves.
I know this hive has survived and is now thriving, in spite of a possible failing queen, because of the Mighty Mite Thermal unit. I am grateful to Lynn Williams and the opportunity to test this unit and save this hive in a NATURAL way! Lynn has always been supportive and available to answer questions throughout this process. This will continue to be the way I control the mites in the hives and also keep the bees warmer in the coldest of winter.
Emily Taylor – Credentials
- BS Health and Physical Education
- Masters in Education with a concentration in math and science
- National Certified Teacher
- One of two county trainers teaching teachers the hands on science curriculum- 10 yrs
- Science Olympiad head coach with two trips to National competition
- County Trainer for the science curriculum – staff development
- NC State technology classroom teacher
- NC PIMS lead teacher for science
- Science textbook adoption
- Helped write the county task analysis for the science curriculum
- Taught science in many grant programs
- District Outstanding Science Teacher