The Beekeeper’s Companion Since 1861
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The Classroom

The Classroom – June 2017

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

Q What Works Anymore for Varroa Control?

I just read your reply to Allen, re: CCD, in March ABJ and you saying there is only “1” Varroa miticide that still works. As a 35+ year beekeeper, I try to stay up to date as possible. As have yourself…I’ve seen a lot of changes over the course of time. Most not all that good.

My question is: What about the ApiGuard that we have rotated with Miteaway Quick Strips for several years. What has happened…did I sleep through it? My question is asked because I was stunned when your reply read “There is only one effective Varroa control at present (Amitraz)….

Thanks for all you do for the bee community.



 From what I have seen, ApiGuard will control 80% or so of Varroa mites following label directions with 2 applications of 2-4 weeks for each 50 gm application. Apivar (an amitraz strip) is in the 90%+ range and is more consistent with variable temp and humidity with one treatment than the “oils and acids”. That is what commercial beekeepers are looking for…consistent quick knockdown and ease of application. When you have thousands of colonies the model is focused and deliberate. It has to be, it is a ‘business’ which supports a family and employees.

I think using and rotating multiple products is the best way to go in a perfect world. But it is not perfect yet. Noncommercial beekeepers (hobby / backyard) can manage a bit more intensively and make some products and systems perform better. But so many choose not to aggressively manage and rotate products and as a result lose colonies and create problems for other beekeepers in their flight area. Commercial guys are stressed a bit with that model that only includes limited products.

Q How Many Colonies and Honey Production?

I just thought I would fall back on you to verify some info as it seems you always have it in the Classroom answers. I just needed a few facts for a school display and wanted to be sure I had it right. Below is a list of what I’m looking for. I feel a little “green” in teaching others about bees and would be glad for any other answers to commonly asked questions about bees. When you read about/work with bees every day, you almost forget what you wondered about bees before you learned.

*Average number of bee colonies in the U.S.?

*Average pounds of honey produced by those colonies?

Thanks so much in advance.
Jeffrey Dettweiler


You will do Great Jeffrey! The reason is you are humble and realize how much there is always left to learn.

According to NASS (National Agricultural Statistic Service) there are 2.78 million colonies as of 2016. Honey production was 162 million pounds.

Q Transferring Bees from a Top Bar to A Langstroth Hive

Thank you for being available for me and others to be able to ask questions about beekeeping that are of concern; you are very much appreciated.

Here is my issue and I have two questions:

  1. I have a top-bar hive that is about three years old and this hive has never been well populated with bees; although I have looked for the queen, and could not find her. I suspect that a re-queening this spring would help this hive. Here is my question–assuming that the present queen in this hive is subpar. Could I place in this hive a new fertile queen and let the bees determine the survival of the stronger queen?
  2. Here is my other question; I want to transfer the bees in this top-bar hive to a Langstroth hive; I am aware of the process of taking the combs in this hive and cutting them to fit into a Langstroth frame supported by rubber bands or tied in place with string. My question is how do I manage the bees and transfer them into the new hive box if I am to manipulate the combs and brush off all the bees on the comb? Do I brush them into the new hive box and then place the Langstroth frames in afterwards? What about the remaining bees that linger in the old top-bar hive box; how do I deal with them?

Thank you for your advice and assistance.
Anthony Manfre


Glad to help if I can.

In a perfect world this is what I would consider. And let’s combine #1 and #2 together if possible. As an assumption as we correspond on March 3rd, we hope that there is not a ton of brood to be sacrificed.

1) You have to …