A TED talk with great bee footage and some clarification.
My friend Megg tagged me in a Facebook post that included a link to a TED talk titled “A Thrilling Look at the First 21 Days of a Bee’s Life.” If you haven’t seen this yet, you should watch it. It includes the most amazing footage of a bee hatching from an egg and developing from a larvae to an adult bee.
Watch it now. I’ll wait.
Wasn’t that amazing?
But I do need to set the record straight. During the presentation, the speaker, Anand Varma, says that beekeepers use chemicals to treat for mites. Although we can use chemicals, not all of us do. There are other non-chemical treatment methods. I use a combination of drone frames and screened bottom boards.
Drone frames encourage the queen to lay more drone eggs, which the mites prefer because they have a longer gestation period. I then kill the developing drone larvae and the mites with them by freezing them (or feeding them to my chickens). I can reuse the drone frames.
- Screen bottom boards replace the solid bottom of a hive with a screen that bees can walk on but mites fall through. Once they fall through, they can’t climb back into the hive. Sticky boards can also be used beneath screens to catch the mites and count them to estimate infestation levels.
A third technique I’ll try this year is using powdered sugar. You dust the bees with sugar and they clean each other off. As they clean off, the mites fall off and, if there’s a screened bottom board, they fall thought and exit the hive.
I believe that consistent and proper use of all three methods can reduce mite infestations without chemicals.
So while genetically engineered bees might be one solution that could be better, beekeepers have other cheaper and easier options available to us.