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Natural Beekeeping: How Welsh Mountain Apiaries Combats Mite Threats

posted on

October 20, 2023


Hey there, fellow nature lovers! Back in May, something pretty exciting happened at Miller's Bio Farm – we welcomed bees into our big family. And boy, have they been a game-changer! Our mission has always been about getting you the real deal – pure, natural goodies that Mother Nature herself would be proud of. Now, if you've had a chance to try OUR RAW HONEY (and we sure hope you have), you've tasted the magic our little buzzing friends have been up to. But, like with everything in nature, there are challenges to face – like pesky mites.

Let's take a closer look at what these remarkable creatures face and how Welsh Mountain Apiaries ensure their well-being, especially against the looming threat of mites.

What Mites Are & Why They're Bad for Bees

Mites are tiny arthropods, many species of which consider the honey bee their ideal host. These microscopic parasites feed on the bees and their larvae, weakening the colony and making it susceptible to a host of other diseases.

Mites, particularly the Varroa destructor, are a natural part of the ecosystem in bee colonies. In small numbers, they coexist with bees without causing substantial harm. However, their rapid multiplication can lead to detrimental effects on the health and well-being of the hive.

When mite populations explode, they latch onto bees as external parasites, feeding on their bodily fluids and weakening them in the process. This parasitic behavior not only directly affects the vitality of individual bees but also introduces various viruses and pathogens, which can further degrade the health of the colony. Infected bees may exhibit deformed wings, shortened lifespans, and a weakened immune system.

One of the most devastating outcomes of an unchecked mite infestation is colony collapse disorder (CCD). In CCD, a majority of worker bees mysteriously desert the hive, leaving the queen, immature bees, and a few nurse bees behind. Without the worker bees, the colony cannot function — they play critical roles in foraging, feeding the young, and maintaining the hive. As a result, the hive weakens progressively and inevitably meets its demise.

It's important to understand that mites don't just threaten the individual colony they infest. As bees from different hives interact and forage in the same areas, mites can transfer between them, posing a risk to the broader bee population in an area. Therefore, controlling mite populations is not just about preserving individual hives but also about ensuring the health and sustainability of the wider bee community.

While bees have some defensive behaviors, like grooming each other to remove mites, these actions often aren't enough when faced with a significant infestation. This is where beekeepers come in to assist, employing various techniques and products to keep mite populations in check.

How Mites Are Handled Conventionally

Many conventional beekeepers use synthetic chemicals such as amitraz, coumaphos, or fluvalinate to treat mite infestations. These treatments can be effective but come with a price. Synthetic miticides have been questioned for their potential long-term effects on both the bees and the honey they produce. Some studies suggest that these chemicals can accumulate in wax and honey, leading to potential health risks for consumers and the possibility of developing resistance in mites. Some of the potential health risks associated with the chemicals are:

  • Amitraz:
    • Bees: Can change bee behavior and hinder colony growth.
    • Humans: May cause dizziness, headaches, and nausea. The long-term effects of honey consumption is not fully known.
  • Coumaphos:
    • Bees: Can harm drone bees' survival and the queen's reproductive capabilities.
    • Humans: Can lead to symptoms like nausea and dizziness. Prolonged exposure might have neurological effects.
  • Fluvalinate:
    • Bees: Generally safer, but misuse can be harmful.
    • Humans: Symptoms of exposure include tingling and numbness. Chronic exposure has shown liver issues in rodent studies.

It’s also important to note:

  • Chemical accumulation in bee wax can create a toxic environment for bees.
  • Over reliance can lead to mites developing resistance, prompting the use of stronger chemicals.

We really need to push for better ways to handle those mites! It's all about keeping bees happy and honey pure.

How Our Natural Beekeeper Handles Mites

So, what does our beekeeper do for mite control? Welsh Mountain Apiaries tackles this challenge in a way that's harmonious with nature. They use Mite Away Quick Strips (MAQS), a product that controls mites without disrupting the natural integrity of the hives or the honey. MAQS's active ingredient is formic acid, an organic acid already naturally present in honey.

Formic acid was first discovered in 1671 by the English naturalist John Ray. This same acid is what gives that sting when you get bitten by ants and some bees. Fast forward to today, and formic acid is mainly made in big factories by reacting carbon monoxide with water, all under some intense heat and pressure.

When applied, the formic acid vapor spreads throughout the hive, reaching and eliminating mites where they breed while leaving the bees unharmed. As an organic acid, it doesn't accumulate in the wax or honey, and mites can't develop resistance to it. This ensures that the honey remains pure, natural, and safe for our customers, just as nature intended.

Our Commitment to Natural Food

At the heart of Miller's Bio Farm lies a deep-rooted commitment to maintaining the delicate balance of nature. From the lush fields where our cows munch away, to the busy world of our bees, we’re all about working hand-in-hand with nature. Partnering up with Welsh Mountain Apiaries just shows our commitment, ensuring that every drop of OUR RAW HONEY is a testament to our dedication to natural, sustainable, and ethical practices. A big thanks to all our loyal customers! Picking Miller's means you're with us on this natural journey.

Any questions about our honey? Contact Us.



Parasitic mites of honey bees: life history, implications, and impact

Subchronic exposure of honeybees to sublethal doses of pesticides: effects on behavior

Effects of fluvalinate and coumaphos on queen honey bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae) in two commercial queen rearing operations

High Levels of Miticides and Agrochemicals in North American Apiaries: Implications for Honey Bee Health | PLOS ONE

Formic acid - New World Encyclopedia

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