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When should and how often should I check or treat for mites?Natural? Chemical Free? Treatment Free?

Updated: Feb 28, 2022

Like everything, it depends.

Every operation and apiary is a little different!

I spot check or use spot checks and schedules for big bee yards when helping sideliner and commercial beekeepers.

In that case, testing tends to be more for exceptions to the scheduled treatments due to unusual weather conditions. Even the it can depend on colony population and condition.

For example, are they brooding up later into the fall and winter than expected? A lot of beekeepers don’t considered an additional treatment or two going into winter because of extended summer/fall temperatures.

But smaller operations and new beekeepers are different.

Depending on level of experience I encourage them to test when population and conditions indicate to do so.

Why? More data, more experience gained, and it helps them with some of the art AND science of beekeeping.

Falling back from that, even if just treating on schedule, is better than neglecting a colony.

I like IPM (Integrated Pest Management) for various reasons, and I’ll say kudos for anyone trying to take care of their bees.

I even have and offer chemical free methods of treatment. I mix in different treatments and management methods or use one method in lieu of another treatment when preferred.

Even some of my “treatment free” clients like the chemical free rout over letting their bees die, or abscond etc.

So, to each their own? Maybe? Kinda? 🙂

I just try to support, educate, and offer best practices and practical experience from backyard and Newbee beekeepers to big operations to help them adopt and improve. Sometimes it’s ME adopting and improving!

Between the bees, and the people, some creative theories come up. And, if they aren’t damaging to another beekeeper 1-3 miles away, or in other words, if they are considerate of other beekeepers in their area, then I’ll help them do what I can to apply some of their desires for their own bees.

Here’s an example from a back yard single hive beekeeper wanting to let their bees swarm as part of their nature.

Me: You’re gonna let them swarm? Consider __insert multiple ramifications here__ , potential damages, and let’s at least make sure they are relatively healthy before they swarm. Ok with you?

The answer was yes. With a low mite count (post treatment) a swarm took off a short time later.

The new queen and temperament of the hive were different, etc. which was a learning opportunity for this beekeeper. But at least whoever got that swarm got a FANTASTIC Minnesota Hygienic Queen and bees that produced 110lbs of honey, in an 8 frame, their first year (nuc from on new frames etc.

Granted, it was an exceptional flow that year, and an exceptional nuc!

So, there’s a few answers and a few thoughts about testing for mites and various methods to treat if desired.


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