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Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

powdered sugar dusting for mite control

Powdered Sugar Dusting For Mite Control

Powdered sugar does not get rid of every single mite, but it greatly reduces mites in a colony if treated properly. Along with green plastic brood comb and screen bottom boards, powdered sugar treatments can significantly reduce your mite load. Maybe you should consider getting off the medication treadmill and approach mites with an IPM (Integrated Pest Management) method without chemicals.  The mites prefer the drone cells since they stay capped longer. When the drone pupae is capped over, simply freeze the frame, killing all mites in the sealed drone brood. Return the frame to the same hive and they will clean out the frame and repeat the process.
You always want to keep your mite levels down to less than 6 mites per 100 bees. DO NOT carry a mite infestation into winter. Many mites carry viruses and can kill your hives during the cold winter months. But, if you can reduce your mites then the winter generation of bees will emerge without being bitten by a mite.
How do you conduct the powdered sugar drop?
Pour one cup of powdered sugar onto the top of the frames in one deep hive body for a minimum of 3 consecutive weeks on the same day each week. A six week treatment is even more effective. The powdered sugar falls between the frames, coats the bees and causes the mites to lose their suction cup grip on the bees and then falls through the screen bottom board, or off of the bee on their next flight. I strongly recommend a six week application so you can be sure to break the mite's brood cycle.
If you treat only once, but the bulk of your mites are within the capped brood, then that treatment will only help with the mites that are out and on the bees or comb. But as soon as the other bees emerge, the mites spread again. That's why repeating the application for six weeks is so effective.
A MORE DETAILED EXPLANATION: First, purchase some powdered sugar. There is a debate on whether the corn starch found in most store bought confectionery sugar may or may not be good for bees. Most of us aren't too worried about the small amount of corn starch compared to how effectively it helps reduce mites. However, if you have a good blender and some time, consider taking granulated sugar and grinding up your own corn starch free powdered sugar. A good blinder will do it very fast, but keep in mind that the sugar does become pretty warm when you grind it up into powder. The volume stays the same, so to make 2 cups of powdered sugar use 2 cups of granulated sugar.
Use 1 cup (8 oz) of powdered sugar per hive body and I do not treat my honey supers because I do not want powdered sugar in the honey. But, if you time things right, you can treat as soon as you take off your honey supers.
Next, head to the bee yard with your smoker, hive tool, sifting screen, powdered sugar and humble feeling of knowing that you are a beekeeper!
Okay, let me answer a few questions that the video may prompt you to ask.
1) Why use a screen on top of the deep? Because it holds the bees beneath the treatment. Otherwise, they will fly up and out of the top as soon as the powdered sugar starts falling between the frames. YOU WOULD TOO!
2) What about the powdered sugar on top of the frames. Brush it between the frames. Remember, bees love sugar!
3) NEVER place a hive body on the ground with the frames down, like it sits on the hive. You'll smash all your bees on the bottom. Tilt it to its front. By the way, when you place the supers or deeps on an inverted top cover, you can also kill bees, and even the queen. But by placing it on the ground no bees are smashed. The queen does not fall off and the bees do not mind.
Finally, you must be stringent about your schedule. For six weeks, keep track of what day you did your powdered sugar drop. If it was Monday, then repeat the process every Monday for a total of six weeks. Do not fudge or skip or haphazardly complete the process.
Consider our online beekeeping courses! For example our "Day In The Apiary" demonstrates exactly how to perform the powdered sugar dusting.