Last week's weather was bad for honey production. Even with all of the blossoms on the trees, our girls spent most of the week inside their hives...consuming the honey that they had spent the past couple of weeks producing (that's what happens when it rains for extended periods of time). Finally this weekend, the sun returned and the girls were back hard at work...gathering and storing nectar.
As part of my natural pest management, I am using IPM bottomboards in my hives. These grid-marked plastic boards slide beneath the hive's screened bottom board. I coat them with a thin layer of vaseline and then check them after a period of time to see how many mites have become trapped. It is suggested that you check the IPM boards after 3 days have passed, count the mites and divide by three for an accurate varoa mite count. Because the previous week had been so phrenetic with construction issues, I did not get back to check my IPM board until 1 week had passed. I found a few mites....but not many. The white arrow in the next picture points to a mite. They are visible with the naked eye...but too small for my camera to adequately focus upon. Most of the other markings on the IPM board are from pollen and debris. I will clean off the boards, re-vaseline them and check them again routinely to keep an eye on the mite problem. If I see an increasing trend in the mite count I will turn to other measures to help control this problem. Mites are a part of beekeeping....especially if you elect to practice natural beekeeping (without chemicals). As long as mite counts are manageable, I will consider this practice successful.