Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Blood sucking dinner plate

Imagine if you had a dinner plate attached to your body. Wherever you go, the dinner plate goes too. Even when you're sleeping. Imagine if that dinner plate was a blood sucking dinner plate, feeding on you to keep itself alive. Imagine if that dinner plate made you weak, susceptible to infection, left you with deformed legs, unable to leave the house. Imagine if there was absolutely nothing you could do to get rid of the dinner plate or stop the rest of your family being overcome by yet more blood sucking dinner plates.

Welcome to the world of the honey bee and it's parasitic sidekick the Varroa mite, or Varroa Destructor to give it its full and graphically apt name.

I have done many unpleasant things to my colonies over the years in my battle against Varroa infestations. Today I added to that list. Let me introduce you to "The Vaporiser". No, not another Marvel comics character dragged onto the big screen in yet another excruciating performance by Nicholas Cage. This is a tool. Oh, so not that different then (snigger). As I was saying, this is a tool designed to vaporise crystals of oxalic acid within a closed up hive, the vapours rising up and permeating the hive, then re-crystalising on the hive surfaces, including on the bees, and including on the mites that are on the bees. Why it is fatal to the mites, but not to the bees, is beyond my knowledge and quite frankly, if it works, I don't care. Many beekeepers have been treating their hives this way for a number of seasons now, so I trust those who have gone before and am arriving late to the vaporising party. Fashionably late, naturally, and with glitter and sequins (okay, no glitter or sequins, more grubby fleece and mucky wellies).


There were the usual mishaps to be expected when using a new toy. Like forgetting to close the hive entrances earlier in the day and trying to coax errant sluggish bees back into the hive so I could gas them. Like not realising the jump starter was already powering the vaporiser and accidentally scorching the instructions for use (thankfully still legible, if a little crispy in places). Like not totally sealing the hive and running away, nose in jacket, from the wisps of toxic oxalic vapour curling up out through the gaps. 

Take note, this is a live action blog written by a fool and not a painstakingly researched how to guide written by an expert.

Tomorrow I shall count the bodies of dead mites fallen from the bodies of my beloved bees and dance a merry jig. Take that you pesky Varroa mites! 

1 comment:

Philippa Pickworth said...

Since the treatment, mites have been dropping from the hive in high numbers; for example, the daily drop for just one colony has been 36, 60-80, 90-100, 50-60, >100, 20-30, 20-30. Much the same for the other three. I rejoice at the deaths, but my heart sinks at the truth that lies behind the numbers - my colonies carry signifcant levels of Varroa despite the autumn treatment. Are the mites increasingly resistant or is the treatment decreasing in efficacy? Two sides of the same coin. I can flip the coin but it's bad for my bees whichever side it lands on.