Integrated Pest Management Pests, Pathogens, Parasites, Predators
What is Integrated Pest Management, IPM? How is it important to beekeeping? First, the definition...Integrated Pest Management, also known as Integrated Pest Control, is a broad-based approach that integrates a range of practices for economic control of pests. IPM aims to suppress pest populations below the economic injury level. Here are the steps to achieve this. 1. Set action thresholds, i.e., when to begin application of IPM technics. 2. Monitor/identify pests, i.e., what critters are in the hive that aren't honeybees. 3. Prevention, i.e., an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 4. Action/Implementation, i.e., do something before it's too late. OK, what are my choices? Biological, cultural, chemical, organic, genetic...these are all actions/implementations being employed in IPM today. From the list of possible actions, here's what I chose....ORGANIC...thus, chemical-free honey bee husbandry.
What works for me....
Screened bottom boards
Plastic drone comb
Small Hives--Since heat and scent are 2 "must haves" for healthy colonies, Warre boxes fill the bill. Abbe Emile Warre realized this fact many moons ago, and wrote his findings in a book called, "Beekeeping For All", and a contemporary, Johann Thur, wrote, "Beekeeping-Natural, Simple, Ecological", and both masterfully translated from their original languages by David Heaf. Find them on my "Resources" page, link below.
So, what works for me? Warre hives.
Screened Bottom Board/Cloth/Quilt-The screen bottom board is an adaptation of the Warre hive. Today's IPM methods find the screen to be acceptable for reasons of better air circulation, a varroa fall-through, easy sticky board implementation for monitoring varroa levels, and better overall colony productivity.
The cloth and the quilt are genuine components of the Warre hive. I've learned that woven plastic grain bags make great cloths. Abbe Warre used a piece of cloth, moistened with flour paste to keep the bees from fraying it. The quilt sits on top of the cloth, is 10cm deep and filled with straw...stays in place year round and keeps the hive toasty warm.
Varroa Mites, aptly named Varroa Destructor!!
Since I am no expert on any of the 4 P's, Pests, Pathogens, Parasites, and Predators, what you see on this page is what I've experienced first-hand and what I've tried, with some success, in the way of organic integrated pest management. Information is everywhere you look, so here is what I'm suggesting. When in doubt, go to your local library, join a local beekeeping association, subscribe to a beekeeping magazine, use the internet, visit with a beekeeper.
What else works for me?
Solid white pine open frames without foundation
Small Hives/Open Frames-Since heat and scent are 2 "must haves" for healthy colonies, Warre boxes fill the bill. Abbe Emile Warre realized this fact many moons ago, and wrote his findings in a book called, "Beekeeping For All", and a contemporary, Johann Thur, wrote, "Beekeeping-Natural, Simple, Ecological", and both masterfully translated from their original languages by David Heaf. Find them on my "Resources" page, link below.
Open Frames-Bees make their own foundation and cells, to their own specs, not preformed commercial foundation. Smaller cells, less space for varroa mites...works for me.
Anything else? You bet. Plastic drone comb, cut to fit in a Warre.
Drone Comb works well to control varroa, but it's a bit messy until you establish a routine. First, the green plastic comb needs to be cut, on a table saw, to fit into the Warre. Next, keep a record of the "insert" date, and where in the hive it was inserted. Mark you calendar to check in 20 days, because when the comb is drawn out and capped, it must be removed before the drones hatch out. Otherwise, the varroa will thank you for contributing to their cause! Freeze the combs in Zip-Loc bags..less mess in the freezer and re-useable. After 24 hours, remove from freezer, scratch open the caps, and re-insert in the hive. The bees will feed on the remains, clean out the cells, and start the whole process again. So, this works for me too.
Small Hive Beetles, potentially devastating, but...
But: 1. Strong colonies corral these pests, and fewer open hive inspections mean less distrubance. 2. Reduce required in-ground pupation by putting hives on a masonry patio. 3. Mason's Lime, a.k.a.hydrated lime. It can be purchased at any masonry contractor yard. Spread it around the base of the hive, in a large circle (6'), just before a rain. Let the rain soak it in. When the SHB larvae leave the hive to pupate in the ground, they come in contact with the lime in the soil &...curtains!
What works for me? Strong colonies. When in doubt, combine a weak colony with a strong colony, sooner rather than later. BTW, 2 weaks do not make a strong.
Scavengers like the small hive beetle have colleagues, one of which is the wax moth, ready to move in at the first sign of weakness, even into your basement if you 're storing combs there. Ants...I use instant cream of wheat, sprinkled in the quilt. The ants take it back to the queen ant, and when she takes a drink, the cream of wheat expands, bringing on her demise and that of the ant colony...for me, easier than moats around the legs. It's organic. Mice...install entrance reducers at the first cool spell in the Fall.