Today I went up to the bees for their weekly inspection and as last week I'd noticed the dreaded varroa count was on the rise I decided to try a sugar-shake treatment. Many varroa mites are resistant to the chemical treatments and this is a treatment that is chemical free (well, my sugar is not organic but it's the best I could do).
Basically you sieve about 250 grams of icing sugar into a container and then you shake this over each side of each frame of bees, giving them a really good coating. Two things then happen: the bees start to clean each other and the varroa mites are dropped off (through an open mesh floor onto a tray) and secondly the mites sucker-type feet are clogged up with sugar dust and they can't use them for suckering. Before I did the treatment I put some clean paper in the trays and I will go up later to see how many mites dropped.
Looking around beekeepers forums and websites there are opposing points of view on this treatment. I don't think there is any doubt that it helps but the question is asked: does it stress the bees? Well, judging by mine today I would say a guarded "only a bit". We had absolutely no problems with the first five frames. Then unfortunately we banged one by accident and of course the bees don't like that! The remaining five frames were a bit of a game but overall the bees were tolerant of what we were doing.
Depending on how many varroa fall I will have to decide whether or not to do another treatment in about two weeks time. I would prefer not to disturb the bees so much again during the high season but equally if I have to I will - it's got to be a better solution than putting chemical strips in just before they start bringing in honey to the supers.
In the great scheme of things that is not a huge green gesture but we are just starting here and are doing our best. In the meantime I've been looking around other green blogs and thought I would give you a short list.
Number one on my list is Green Me - I like her straightforward down to earth approach to green living.
Number two is Greedy Green - her blog (in February) about the Wonder Wash machine really appealed to me. I WANT ONE!
Number three is Environmentastic! - started by environmentalist Caleb Hartley this blog focuses on green products, green politics and how we can help ourselves to make this a better, greener world.
Finally we have The EcoChic - a thirty-something mother working hard to be as green as possible.
I hope you like some of these and if you have any other green favourites please leave me a comment.