We have one hive of bees that we got as a swarm this year very early in the swarming season. At the moment we’re feeding them because we weighed the hive they’re well below the weight needed to get them through the winter. Yesterday morning I went to top up the feeder and there was lots of activity with plenty of bees coming in and out of the hive and lots of pollen coming in.
I stopped to watch the bees for a while and found three or four bees with deformed wing virus outside the hive and one of them had what looked like two mites on it. Our Warre hive doesn’t have windows so I don’t know what proportion of the bees have deformed wings inside.
Am I right to assume that seeing three or four bees outside the hive with deformed wings means that a lot of the bees in the hive will have this virus and that therefore there’s likely to be a lot of varroa in the hive that have spread the virus?
If that’s the case we can either do nothing and see if the bees can cope with the problem themselves or we can treat them. Having read about natural bee keeping and having done a natural bee keeping course earlier in the year I’d decided I would try to be treatment free. However, there was some discussion on our course about weaning bees off varroa treatment rather than going cold turkey (I can’t quite remember the details which is why I’m needing to ask this question now).
The bee keeper who collected the swarm for me is almost certain that the swarm came from a conventional bee keeper who’s bees are kept very close to where our swarm was found and who “lost” a swarm from one of his colonies that day. He told me that the bee keeper was up to date with all his treatments so I assume the parent colony where our swarm came from had been varroa treated.
I’m not quite sure how I would wean bees off treatment because surely I would either treat them or I wouldn’t and there isn’t an in between. As yet we haven’t been sugar dusting because I’ve wanted to open the hive as little as possible and we don’t have a mesh floor on the bottom to count a mite drop. I’m considering using one of the organic acids if I do treat. Any advice would be very gratefully received.