Will it survive the winter?

Since I’ve been feeding the two hives, I’ve noticed Demeter hasn’t been taking the syrup like Melissa has. I checked them a few days after filling them up and Melissa’s feeder was down to the dregs and Demeter had 1/2 the container still full. I find this disconcerting because Demeter had a lot of empty frames.

In my mind I still separate the two hives with Demeter being my stronger hive. Now that’s not the case.

I checked that beetle trap I have under Demeter:

All those little brown dots? Varroa mites. Floating in oil.
An even better shot.

When I did a hive inspection, I could count at least 5 phoretic mites that I could see on the bees so I knew there was a significant mite load. But the apiary this genetic line comes from is from someone who doesn’t treat (granted this is many years ago) and the beekeeper I got them from only intermittently used powdered sugar. These bees were essentially untreated for anything, no antibiotics, nothing, except for the MAQS I used last year.

So the goal is not necessarily to rid the hive completely of mites but keep the load low enough that it doesn’t negatively impact the health of the hive. I ended up treating Demeter  but not Melissa with the MAQS.

The queen survived the treatment, she’s a 2011 queen and has survived two formic acid treatments. She’s a tough cookie.

Removing dead brood after the MAQS.
You can’t feed in the hive during treatment, so I chose option 2: outside feeding. This worked very well as long as the weather cooperated, I had to check the jars every morning to see if curious deer had knocked over the jars. I was running out of time for Demeter to fill the frames.

I don’t think Demeter is going to make it. We’ll see.

And….drumroll please: the piece de resistance!!!!! A new decal for my car!!!

Custom order from an etsy shop called VillageVinyl. I LOVE IT!!!!!
From the same seller, the letters are lavender colored.


  1. Anna: What size lens are you using for your closeup pictures? Can you send me your link to your chicken bog? I tried the sugar treatment and it didn’t work so I tried API and that work for me on the mites. Put in the feeders that you talked about and they are great. The clear cover lid inside needed to be drilled out with a couple of small holes to let the moisture out from condensation.

    • I use a point and shoot camera, Sony CyberShot I think. It does a remarkably good job with little knowledge from me 🙂
      From what I’ve read about the sugar treatment, it needs to be done religiously for a few weeks. Because it only knocks off the phoretic mites, it needs to be performed every week as new bees emerge with mites on them. But I’ve also read that using powdered sugar over the brood frames can kill the brood. As I have not used this management tool, I can’t attest to these reports.

  2. What are your temperatures now? I know that below a certain temp (50F)the bees will not take liquid feed. Even if your daytime temps are higher it takes so long for the liquid to get warm enough. You could treat later in the winter with Oxalic.

  3. Sorry to hear about rise in varroa, this is always a worry in winter. I agree with Anna, the sugar dusting only gets rid of phoretic mites and is only 20% effective as a treatment, so needs to be used as part of integrated pest management. The bees look quite healthy in your photos though so lets hope they are tough enough to pull through.

    We treat with oxalic acid on a dry, fine day in December when there is virtually no brood to target the varroa. Of course, there is little else you can do except wait till spring. The smallest hive can often surprise you by coming through winter and doing well next season.

    Hope to hear how your bees are doing again soon.

    • Thanks Emma and svengali for the comments. I don’t know if oxalic acid is approved in the US for mites yet but I would love a treatment that would be applied during the broodless period. I went in to the hives on Saturday and will post an update.

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