One of the speakers at last Saturday’s event (I can never remember whether she’s Carol Browne or Carole Brown) displayed and discussed a novel way of keeping Varroa mites in check at this time of year. It is a standard brood frame with two extra vertical dividers, equally spaced, thus providing three vertical oblong holes.For simplicity we can label them A, B and C.
This is placed, without foundation, into the brood box at the edge of the brood nest. The bees will start, at this time of year, to draw drone comb. At your next visit, maybe a week or so later, remove the comb from two of the panels, B & C, leaving one, A, which may well have eggs or young larvae. Take note of the state of the brood at each visit as timing is important.
At the following visit, just remove the comb in C. At the next visit the drone comb in A should be sealed and under the caps will be a fair proportion of the hive’s mites. Take that comb out. The cycle is repeated during the drone-rearing season. Don’t let that drone hatch out or you will be adding to the mite load.
Keep an eye on the number of mites to be found when you examine the removed capped comb. Also keep note of numbers of fallen mites that get through your mesh floor. It might be interesting to run a controlled experiment by pairing up evenly matched hives and treating one in this manner while not the other and keeping a tally of mite drop. This may give you an inkling as to how effective this is and whether or not it’s worth doing.
Delving into my box of old frames I found a few that really should have been thrown away because of missing lugs etc. This gave me a supply of spare end bars. The bottom end, with the three lugs, is eased into the bottom bars of a new/second hand frame while the top end (I needed to saw a smidgeon off to fit) jams against the top bar. I added a gimp pin for security to each top end. So now I have 4 such frames. All I need now is a dry and sunny day to use them!