Dead bees are part of beekeeping, just as death is part of life. That knowledge doesn’t make it any easier to see a sight like the one below, especially when we know it was caused by our actions. (Please excuse the blurred picture. I didn’t have on my bee jacket, veil, or hat, and the girls get a little testy after this treatment.)
These bees died after we used Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS) to treat for Varroa. You may recall my post last fall about our experience with MAQS. We had problems with Yellow Jackets raiding the hive through the wide-open front entrance although I don’t remember this many dead bees. We might have been so focused on the Yellow Jackets that we didn’t notice.
So, why use MAQS? There are several good reasons. It’s the only treatment currently available that kills mites on capped brood and the only one you can use with honey supers on the hive. More importantly, responsible beekeepers employ Integrated Pest Management (IPM) using a variety of treatments. This helps decrease the likelihood of the mites developing resistance to a particular treatment.
Our treatment plan includes MAQS, Oxalic Acid vaporizing, and drone frames. If we ever manage to get a large enough hive to split, we’ll do that too.
We also use a sticky board and sugar roll to count our mite load and plan to try an alcohol wash this season just to get an idea of how many mites the sugar method is missing.
Though it looks horrible, having this many bees die is not a tragedy, but a side-effect. It’s better than helping cause a treatment to become useless. And it’s much better than allowing the Varroa load to get high enough to cause a hive collapse .
Because when a hive collapses, the bees that survive join other hives in the area.
The mites go with them, starting the problem all over for whichever beekeeper happens to be unfortunate enough to live nearby.
For more information on IPM, visit the following sites.
Mid-Atlantic Apicultural Research & Extension Consortium