As the early spring blooms are coming to an end, the excitement of the start of a new bee season for me is about to begin. It was a difficult year in my little apiary last year, and I’m eager to start again with hopes and prayers for a successful year. This year I have ordered two packages of #3 Gold Star Honeybees. These guys are used to small cell comb and are a mix of Russian, Italian, and Carniolan genetics also winter hardy, which I’m hoping is better than getting packages from Floria. I’m hoping that these girls will be able to withstand the temperatures of WV winters with less overall stress.
This year I’m also going to try an additional varroa mite treatment that I read about in The Beekeepers Quarterly (No. 127) on how a couple of beekeepers, Ann and Maciej Winiarski, in Poland, have been using rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) as an effective method of controlling varroa. Rhubarb leaves have a natural low dose of oxalic acid which can be used at any time in the apiary to control varroa without harming the bees or honey. By placing the leaves, together with their crushed stalks between the brood box and super, the worker bees will work to remove the rhubarb. Because of the conditions inside the hive, the leaves don’t dry out but slowly releases oxalic acid in a gaseous form which circulates around the hive.
this method wasn’t originally done in a top bar hive, but I don’t see why this wouldn’t work perfectly in my hives. I have a beautiful patch of Rhubarb transplanted years ago from my in-laws. I usually just compost the leaves…but I’m super excited to be able to use them for the good of the girls. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a healthier and stronger hive going into winter this year.