This has been quite a long stretch of blog silence but while we have been too distracted by other projects to write about our bees we have not been neglecting them, which is why alarming mite counts shocked us so. One week into August the hives were all below the three(3) mites per hundred bees threshold for treatment. One week into September, Beatrix and Clarissa were unsurprisingly just over with four(4) mites per hundred bees and ready for a treatment. Nae so wee Angharad was still well below threshold. But Dorcas was near ten(10) mites per hundred bees when we disheartenedly stopped counting. At this level she was a danger to the entire apiary.

We consoled ourselves with the knowledge that sudden high mite levels can happen to anyone at any time. The arrival of hitch-hiking mites is out of our control. And it is well known that mite counts rise rapidly in the fall. Bee population declines as brood rearing slows and drones are evicted but the damnable mites carry on. Interestingly this is the first time since we began monitoring mites that we have had one hive so very much more infested than its neighbors.

The evening of our unhappy discovery we applied an oxalic treatment with our Varomorus fogger. We dosed all the hives to be certain. A week later the mite count in Dorcas was half of what it had been. Effective as an oxalic fog is, it only affects the phoretic mites, the ones riding on the bees and not the ones reproducing in capped brood cells. We treated all the hives again and will do so at least twice more at weekly intervals.

We may yet save Dorcas and with more certainty will protect the rest.