It looks like the early spring and early build-up of colonies has lead to higher-than-average mite loads for the time of year in 2017. As I travel around the state and inspect colonies for WVDA, all the hives I have checked so far (using the alcohol wash method) have shown mite levels at or above the treatment threshold. I have yet to test bees of mite-resistant breeds such as Russian, VSH, and Mite-mauler/Ankle-biter.

Beware especially of colonies that are strong, such as those who have made good honey crops and have not swarmed. One such hive showed a mite infestation rate of 12 mites per 100 bees when we took an alcohol wash. During the inspection we saw no symptoms of mite issues such as DWV or mites on the bees, but this hive would likely begin to crash fairly soon. Check out this post (click here) to see how I would recommend to test your mite levels as well as how to make your own low-cost mite wash device.

36 mites in 300 bees means 12 mites per 100 bees (12% infestation rate). We’re on death’s doorstep here!

There may still be time to treat and get mite levels down before virus issues devestate the bees and before your bees raise their final winter population. Please check your hives, treat as necessary, and then check mite levels again to see if the treatment brought the mite loads down enough. You want to see less than 2 mites per 100 bees in the fall.

I hope you have been enjoying your own locally produced honey! Be proactive and have a great summer!