I've been treating the hives with some medication for a couple of weeks now, specifically to combat the Varroa Mite and Tracheal Mite. You'll recall that these mites can weaken a beehive to the point where it can't survive, especially the winter. Now that fall is here, some beekeepers treat with medication (others do more natural treatments, like sugar shakes, while others don't do any treatments at all).
[It's interesting to note that these pests are relatively recent to the U.S. The Varroa Mite arrived around 1987, and the Tracheal Mites in 1984. See here for more information.]
I wanted to see how effective the treatments are, so I performed a "mite drop test." I have a couple of sheets of corrugated plastic board, and I sprayed them with aerosol cooking spray (to make the surface sticky). Then I placed the boards under the screened bottom board of each hive last Sunday. Tonight I removed them for examination.
Wow - there were lots of mites on the boards! Here are the pictures - the first is from the brown hive, the second from the green hive (click for larger).
The small brown dots are mites. You'll note that the brown hive had more mites than the green one (the picture at the top is a closeup from the brown hive's board). I attribute this to the fact that the brown hive is older, and has a larger population. In any case, the medications appear to be working. Next weekend I'll take off the Formic Acid pad, and the Apistan strips come out a few weeks after that. This weekend I'll also start feeding the Fumigilin-B which treats for Nosema.
As an aside, this weekend is a special meeting of the Worcester County Beekeeper Association. It's the Mass Bee Fall Meeting and Honey Show hosted by WCBA, and is an all-day meeting. One of the speakers will be Dr. Marla Spivak of the University of Minnesota. Dr. Spivak is one of the world's leading experts on bee hygienics, or the feature of bees being able to keep their hives free(er) of disease and pests.
Oh, and it snowed today; go figure...