August 12th weather turned out to be perfect for training hive checks and mite-level counts. We were pleased to find low mite levels, solid brood patterns, and lots of bees covering the frames in all four hives. Mite drop boards were checked first. The boards were pulled and placed on the hives so people could assess what had dropped. Basically there were few mites and some discussion as to even if what we were seeing were mites. Using a magnifying glass helped. Three of the four hives only had a couple of mites on the board.
It was decided to test the one hive with the largest number of mites first using the sugar-shake test. Our experienced instructor went through the steps, discussed what equipment is needed, and how the process worked. The test hive was opened and two frames selected. The frames were shaken over a corrugated box, collecting a good amount of bees. Next, about a ½ cup of bees were measured into the testing jar and the jar closed with a mason ring and a circle of 1/8” hardware cloth that fitted into the ring. About two tablespoons of powdered sugar was added. Next the jar was rotated to coat the bees and after a few minutes the jar was shaken over a white lid from a 5-gallon bucket. The powdered sugar sifted from the jar was misted with water until it dissolved, showing any mites that had been dislodged from the bees.
The process can be reviewed here:
And instructions to make your own jar here:
And discussion on mite levels and treatment options here:
A second hive was processed so that others could try their hand.
The balance of the visit was spent discussing the status of the four hives. Brood pattern, honey/nectar stores, preparation for winter, amount of bee cover, and hive inspection techniques were reviewed.
The Clermont hives continue to progress at acceptable levels. There is good bee traffic at the hive entrance and over-wintering stores are reasonable for mid-August. The season has been good with timely rain. The bee yard still has plants in bloom. We topped up the feeders and applied the 2nd treatment of Apiguard.
Special thanks to Doug for his demonstration of the sugar-shake testing method and supplying the links to great training web sites.