Monday, July 23, 2007

Detritus 101

A part of the 'Integrated Pest Management' that beekeepers must routinely do is an inspection of the litter tray. You insert a sticky/greasy paper under the mesh floor and after a few days take a good hard look at what's dropped there. The idea is that if a mite falls it'll stick and be counted. And the good folks at DEFRA have calculated mite populations based on that. Well we've got good news and bad news. One hive with less than 2 mites a day is very good for this time of year. But the other one with about 8 a day will require some immediate action. It's going to interrupt the honey harvest from that hive but hopefully we can get the bee population healthy enough to last the winter. The honey bee got a lot of press this spring (not as much as Paris Hilton maybe) concerning the phenomenon that has been termed 'Colony Collapse Disorder'. Current thinking is that it isn't any one thing but rather like a bee Aids, whereby their immune system is weakened (stress, pesticides, etc.) and then they can be finished off by something that wouldn't normally be fatal. Anyone interested can 'listen again' to a recent Food Programme on Radio 4 which looks at the problem. And I see that Patrick @ Bifurcated Carrots has flagged up an article which has yet another theory.


Celia Hart said...

I had no idea that counting mites was crucial to good bee husbandry! It's like looking for red mites in the hen-house.


Misshathorn said...

It's a fairly recent phenomenon - 15-20 years ago the varroa mite was introduced to Britain. But it is a real problem now that it has become resistant to the most effective treatment that was on the market.