Seasonal management, July 2009: Medications

By Stacey Adair

Each month when the newsletter time rolls around, I try to bring relevant information to the members about things which are happening in the bee yard this month, and looking a little forward to the next as well. After extracting takes place for those of us fortunate enough to have made some honey, our next big decision in the bee yard is medicating, and then possible fall requeening. In last month’s newsletter we talked about how to determine if you need to treat, and Stephanie Tarwater presented a great talk on the medica- tions available to us for the 2009 year. As a club, we try to promote only treatments recognized as safe and legal by the state of Tennessee. You will hear of other off-label uses of other chemicals by other beekeepers, but we urge you to use only approved treatments, and also use them according to label directions. As a club, we would also like to urge you to consider using the softer chemicals which are available to us, and to save the harsher chemicals for use as a last resort. While the harsher chemicals are approved for use, they can leave residues in the wax that can potentially affect your queen, and have been shown to cause resistance. Using chemical treatment for disease only when needed, and according to label directions, can produce an effective treatment, and leads to less resistance to the product in the future. So I’ll get off my soap box now with one last comment– be a good steward to your bees and the environment.

I have decided to reprint portions of last year’s seasonal management because the information is still current and relevant. In addition to the reprint, I would like to remind some of our newer beekeepers that after you have extracted your honey, you need to return the “wet” supers to your colonies so the bees can remove the last remaining amounts of honey from your drawn comb. It is best to replace the wet supers on the colonies near dusk to prevent excessive activity and robbing. Place the supers directly over the inner cover, then place the outer cover on top of the uppermost super. The bees will bring the left over honey down into the brood area. They will clean the supers out in a matter of few days, then you can bring them back inside to store until next season. Moth crystals, not moth balls, are the ac- cepted form of fumigant to store your supers. The fumigant is heavy, so place the crystals on the top of your stacked supers on a piece of newspaper with a small space above the crystals to allow fume off. I use a shim to create the space. Cover with a lid, make sure all supers are stacked squarely on top of each other, and replace the crystals often during the warmer months.

From July 08-Seasonal management this time of year usually centers around medications for your hives. Please re- member when you decide what you want to use, that John Gee is our medications coordinator. Please call him if you have questions regarding which medications we have at 995-2347.

Stephanie Tarwater gave a good presentation on medications last month, so hopefully you have decided what to use. The things to remember about our newer medications that are more “bee friendly” are that most of them are tem- perature sensitive. Some cannot be used this time of the year because they fume off too fast, and could potentially kill our bees in extremely hot temperatures. Products that can be used during these warmer temps include Api-gard with ideal temps between 60 and 105 degrees. Api-gard is placed above the brood frames which decreases the labor in- volved in using this product. Two treatments about 2 weeks apart are required for this product. A spacer frame is rec- ommended with it’s use. It contains thymol, and averages 93% efficacy against varroa mites. It also has some efficacy against tracheal mites, but you should follow up with a menthol treatment later in the fall. If you are using screened bottom boards, you should close off the screens when using any type of fumigant. Another thymol product on the mar- ket is Api Life Var. This product can be used at temperatures between 65-85 degrees, requires 3 applications, but has only a 75% efficacy against Varroa mites. We do currently have permission to use this product in Tennessee. Apistan may also be used during this time of year, but is considered one of the “harsher” chemicals, and has been shown to lead to resistance if used too often. Apistan is a strip which is used down in the brood area, which means a little more labor involved with its use. These strips are left in the brood area for 42 days, and must be removed. The screened bottom board does not have to be closed when using this product. Other products which can be used include dusting with powdered sugar on weekly to biweekly rotations, and later in the summer when temperatures cool off, Mite-away II can be used. It is also a fumigant with good varroa AND tracheal mite efficacy, with only one 3 week application needed. The problem is that the average temperatures for use range 50-79 degrees, so it is probably an easier prod- uct to use in the spring in our region. However, if you want to wait to use it in the fall, I would recommend using powdered sugar dusting to keep the mite burden knocked back until you are able to use the product safely. Varroa mites can cause a lot of damage between honey harvest and mite treatment applications. Be aware of your mite burden in your hives. Heavy infestations can lead to Parasitic Mite Syndrome and associated viruses which are difficult to overcome be- fore winter sets in.

The last treatment to consider is for tracheal mites. These are the hardest to detect because they live in the tracheas of bees and cannot be seen with the naked eye. The safest and best control for these mites is the use of Menthol packets which fume off and have up to a 97% efficacy. The ideal treatment has the packets fuming off over a 4 week period to give you the best tracheal mite kill. This is usually best accomplished in August, and the packets should be placed to one cor- ner over the brood boxes. Screened boards should be closed as with other fumigants. As you check on the fume off you will notice that the bees will heavily propolize the bags. While you are waiting on slightly cooler temps to use your Menthol, you may use grease patties in the colonies to lower the tracheal mite population. The recipe is the same as for making Ter- ramycin patties, just without the Terramycin.

Another pest that you may want to consider treating for is American Foulbrood. AFB preventive treatment includes the use of Terramycin patties or dusting with Terramycin. One patty per hive is applied in the fall, or dusting with Terramycin and powdered sugar . The dusting requires 4 treatments a week apart.

Later in the fall you will want to feed your bees a Fumagilin treatment for Nosema. I will try to let you know if there are any recommendations from our State Apiarist on new methods or measures for treatment, since Nosema ceranae may be re- sistant to the treatment for Nosema apis. When mixing the Fumagilin, remember do not mix in HOT water or it will inacti- vate the medication. Mix the medication in warm water, then add to your sugar water and mix well. I have noticed in past years that this is one of the least accepted treatments sometimes by my bees, and they take the medication better if of- fered in sugar water versus corn syrup. (Dale Hinkle also suggests adding a little vanilla flavoring to help with palatability) The fall treatment usually requires (2) feedings of medicated sugar water.

So there is a quick wrap-up for July seasonal management. If you have additional questions, please bring them to the meeting and we will address them during the seasonal management talk. See you Monday!

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