Breaking Bee News: Mite Count Down, Eggs Remain a Mystery

I am pleased to report that the mite count has dropped significantly on our top-bar hive, Mondo’s, bottom board.

Compared with the 30+ mites we were seeing before, the five mites I counted on the board a few days ago were a relief. Besides the mites, pollen, and bits of wax and debris from newly drawn comb, we also saw one wax moth larva nosing around. The “bee eggs” and “antennae” we identified during our last bottom board inspection were absent.

The bottom board, as it looked on our most recent inspection. The red spot down low and in the center is a mite. You can click the picture to get a closer look.

After the monthly Bee Guild meeting last night, we were able to ask a few much more seasoned beekeepers whether they thought our identification of bee eggs on the bottom board was plausible.

The folks we talked to scratched their heads and suggested that we may have actually been seeing wax moth eggs. Kelly remains unconvinced, and if I ever see the tiny translucent pearls on the bottom board again, I’m going to bottle them and bring them along for show and tell at the next meeting. In the meantime, a preliminary google image search for “wax moth eggs” hasn’t yielded anything helpful.

Bees enjoy reprieve

The weather continues to be unseasonably sunny and the hard frosts of early January have given way to comparatively balmy nights. The bees seem to be taking full advantage of the weather. They’re bringing in loads of white and bright yellow pollen and are staying out into the early evening. We’re not sure what all they’re foraging on, but the loquat in the front yard is still in bloom. I’ve also seen (and smelled!) blooming acacia, and yesterday I watched one of the girls collecting nectar from Oxalis just outside the hive. Here’s to noxious creeping perennial weeds that double as winter forage for bees!

Welcome home! Bees greet each other at the entrance of the hive.

4 Responses to Breaking Bee News: Mite Count Down, Eggs Remain a Mystery

  1. I really love your photos of bees. These ones look healthy and happy. Is it possible to completely eradicate mites once you have an infestation?

    • Thanks, Mary! Once you’ve got mites (on a continent) you might as well get used to them. Varroa mites came to the US in the 1980s and have nearly worldwide distribution. There’s a pretty cool animation of the spread of varroa across the globe at To Bee: http://www.tobee-organic.com/en/global-distribution-of-varroa.html. It may be less the mites, than the viruses they carry that really mess with bee health. But either way, the presence of varroa has brought devastation to many colonies and apiaries around the world.

  2. What a great (and disturbing) link showing the spread of varroa mites! It’s really startling to see how recently, and how quickly, they spread to the U.S.

    • Yup, it’s pretty sobering. And then consider all the other invasive critters that are spreading around the planet and how irreversible it all is. Yikes!

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