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Solitary Bees with mites

I need some help with my dilemma.

I have a solitary bee house made from canes. Each year it’s used to the maximum and I’ve had to make another one to accommodate the overflow. The problem is that this year, all the bees were covered with mites! I’ve done some reading up on the subject and it appears that the mites will over-winter and more than likely spread and kill off the bees. I’ve seen videos of avid bee lovers taking apart their bee houses and cleaning all the larvae with a mild bleach solution and then keeping them in a box, to emerge in spring.

This seems quite excessive and not 100% effective.

I don’t want to see my bees coming to harm again this year; also they will more than likely pass on the mites to other bees.

I have to ask; do I destroy the bee houses before they emerge, so as to wipe out the mites and start again?

Or should I let nature take its course?

Any help would be much appreciated, thank you.

Brian

Posts

  • YnneadYnnead LondonPosts: 196

    That's a tough one. What about biological control? Maybe you can buy some predatory mites that will eat the parasitic ones and leave the bees unharmed.

  • I'm sure that's what nature should be doing without our intervention; I think all our pesticides and chemicals have really damaged all chances of that though.

    Your idea sounds very so perfect in a perfect world but unfortunately I’m not holding out much hope for it to be a solution. I do actually see predatory insects being shipped around the world passing through my work, so it’s obviously a widely used technique.

    Thank you for the suggestion and I will obviously look into the option if only just for curiosity.

    Brian

  • Thank you Philippa. You know what, strangely I hadn't even thought about looking for answers in that direction. I did a google and that lead me to the articles about removing and cleaning the eggs and I kind of finished up there. I will certainly ask in that area, especially as it makes more sense.

    Thanks again

    Brian

  • There are solutions for hives but they won't work here. One trick we (beekeeepers) use is to dust with ice sugar. The bees will clean themselves and the mites (I presume they are Varoa) off. ibviously easy to apply to a hive. Try the BBKA or Bumble bee conservation websites.

  • Thank you very much for info but after checking what a 'Varoa mite' looks like, I found that it's not them.

    I've done a quick search and I believe them to be 'pollen mites'. The web page and picture I found:

    http://nurturing-nature.co.uk/wildlife-garden-videos/pollen-mites-hitching-a-lift-on-red-mason-bees-to-gain-access-to-fresh-nests-new-video/

    I’m guessing after reading this article that it’s either meticulous cleaning or start over :-(

    Out of curiosity though, do you think the ice sugar could help reduce these type of mites? Also when you say 'Ice suger' are you refering to 'Icing sugar'?

    Thanks againimage

  • Icing sugar. cant help on pollen mite I'm afraid but I don't think the icing sugar would hurt them.

  • Thank you

  • GrannybeeGrannybee Sunny South EnglandPosts: 288

    Leave them alone. In nature, the strongest bees will survive and the weakest succumb. They will deal with the mites in their own way.

    Apart from that, the sheer logistics of dusting solitary bees with icing sugar as and when they emerge from the nest is difficult.

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