The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
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The Classroom

The Classroom – January 2017

- January 1, 2017 - Jerry Hayes - (excerpt)


Jerry, I’ve been beekeeping for about 3 years. I have been lucky to have help from a veteran beekeeper. I had noticed a mite problem in a few of my hives so I treated with an unnamed acid strip. I had split off a few hives and installed new queens after treating for seven days per instructions. Checked my hives and found all my new queens dead and the older ones had stopped laying–a real mess going into our Georgia winter. I live in the South so maybe they can catch up. Anyway does this product normally work this way, and is there a better treatment without the side effects of this product. I also was reading The Classroom and have had good luck controlling hive beetles with black ground cover under my hives. I have noticed the difference in my hives–in the apiaries I don’t use it they have more beetles.



Hello Ricky,

I am just into Alabama for their state meeting, so am not too far from you really. A hundred years ago I taught high school in Quitman, Ga.

Some people have great luck with caustic acids and some don’t. There are a few variables like heat, humidity and colony size that greatly influence efficacy. Acids are especially tough on brood and queens if temperature and humidity are too high. I would give ApiGuard or Apivar miticides a try.

Glad to hear that black ground cover is helping with small hive beetles in your area. Keep it up. Hang in there.


This is my second year keeping bees (first spring this year) and because of my poor management and a rainy spring, I have two hives that were not able to put up enough honey for winter. Each of these hives are about 10 frames of bees each. I got this idea of making a 4-frame nuc out of each one and over-wintering them above a full sized colony. I already made a special double screen/bottom board to separate the nucs from the hive below.

The thinking behind this idea is that since the bees use honey for energy to generate heat, a small cluster above a large cluster wouldn’t use as much honey throughout the winter. I was going to go ahead with my plan, but decided to get some advice from a veteran before I waste bees unnecessarily.

Thanks for sharing your wisdom,
Jeffrey Detweiler


This will work to capture heat and keep the upper nucs warm. You will still have to feed consistently over winter. What is your plan for that for the lower colony if needed and the upper separate nuc above the double screen? Feeding over winter should be as least disruptive as possible.

And just as a what if, why don’t you just stack one weak colony on the other and get that critical mass that you need to overwinter. You will, of course, lose 1 colony in theory, but might gain from combining now and as spring comes. Splitting a big healthy colony in spring might be better than overwintering two weak nucs. If both nucs die for some reason, then you are behind in colony numbers for sure.



I was speaking at a recent meeting and had someone ask me a question that I truly had not thought about. The question was, “If we are all so concerned about the residues of pesticides stored in the beeswax comb in a honey bee colony hurting the bees, then why doesn’t it seem to kill Wax Moth larvae or Small Hive Beetle larvae? Are we simply overreacting to pesticides in beeswax comb or is it a mistake?”

My answer was that the dosage in the comb of pesticide residues from miticides or toxins found in the environment wasn’t enough to …