I did something yesterday that I had vowed to avoid if at all possible: I put a mitecide in my hives (Apistan). To medicate or not is one of those beekeeping questions that, in my experience, is classic trench warfare with firm opinions and, I think anyway, valid arguments one way or the other. For those who do medicate, I’ve heard arguments about how as beekeepers we have a responsibility to do all we can to help and protect our bees from the plague of varroa destructor. For those who don’t, I hear how medicating is just breeding weak and susceptible stock and how many beekeepers medicate incorrectly which creates stronger mites.
I fall in the middle.
As a practice, I don’t sugar feed (the pH of sugar is harmful to bees and beneficial to varroa), I don’t medicate (I tend to lean towards the breeding and medication issues I described), and I don’t spin my honey (pollutions and chemicals can build up in the wax over time, and harvesting the wax each year reduces that risk). And having said that, I would point out that I have sugar fed, I have medicated, and I have spun. My current attitudes come from a mix of my own readings and study and my experience with my hives. Personally, I’ve had a lot of success without sugar feeding and medicating.
But on the other hand, even if you don’t like to shoot foxes, when the fox is in the hen house, you pull the trigger. My Inside Hive has a mite problem, and if I do nothing, they will die this winter. At least by medicating, I give them a chance. It’s better that the live with the complications that I feel medicating causes than that they die outright.
So yesterday I regretfully slipped two strips of Apistan into my hive, and I’d do it again in a heart beat if I found my hive struggling. To thank me for my efforts, two bees crawled up my pant leg and give me a gift in my right calf. I had a super in my hands at the time, and it took me a minute to put it down and then move safely away from the hive so that I could remove the stingers. I got enough venom that I have a lovely sausage for a lower leg. Because I move that leg a lot, the venom has spread in fun ways and left me itchy spots all over. I’m glad I’m not going to be on my feet for work tomorrow because the last thing I need is that venom trailing into my foot. That would be incredible!
My reactions to the venom seem to be heading the right direction though. My first sting in my hand was violent enough that I didn’t sleep that night for the itching. Over the years, it has diminished to the swelling and dull itchy feeling that only really comes when the sting gets scratched.
Back to the medication…. The only real concern I have now (aside from medicating in general) is that I get to make an early December visit to pull those strips out. Here’s hoping the weather cooperates enough to give me one last warm Saturday around Thanksgiving!