BEES FOR THOUGHT

An informative letter to beekeepers and to the general public at large.

Varroa Destructor is an Acarian and according to researchers, its closest relative is the Red Spider Mite.

The Acarian Varroa Destructor is very small, with the adult female about 1.1 mm long and 1.7 mm broad.  The male Varroa D. is even smaller and is difficult to be seen by the naked eye.  The most visible relative of the Acarian Order is the Tick which can grow over 2 cm.

Acarian organisms do not have wings to fly like insects.  Varroa D. are parasites on bees and inside sealed brood cells where they breed and feed on the pupa and larvae.  In 1904 in Indonesia-Java, scientist Dr. Stu Jacobson discovered (by luck) this Acarian parasite on the Apis Cerana (the Asian bees).
He observed that equilibrium between the host Apis Cerana and the parasite existed.

Close observation indicated that the Apis Cerana had a natural, strong and efficient behaviour to delouse and to cleanse its body, just like Apis Mellifera.  But far more importantly, the Apis Cerana’s development cycle is short (17 days) against Apis Mellifera (our honey bees) cycle of 21 days.  This could be the answer as to why Varroa D. when breeding in the Apis Cerana hives cannot effectively finish their cycle of reproduction, especially for the male brood.  Having no male Acarian limits seriously the breeding, hence Apis Cerana bee colonies control and therefore can live with Varroa D. with no consequential health problems.

We are well aware that Varroa D. particularly the female, are very agile and can hook efficiently to the body of the Mellifera bees (our bees).
Varroa D. feed from the larvae, pupas and adult bees.  Its nutrition is secured, after stinging, with the suction of the hemolymphe.

There are very important “flow-on” consequences because Varroa D. injects in the bees’ hemolymphe different pathogen agents – which may lead to the development of other diseases in our Mellifera bees.

We know the catastrophic consequences of Varroa D. to world-wide apiaries. As an example, consider what happened in NZ.  The NZ industry, both professional and hobbyist, within the last 12 years have been severely affected.  Australia is now the only country left in the world free of Varroa Destructor and therefore we must be conscious of protecting our excellent bees and honey.

Small_hive_beetle

Small hive beetle

Vorroa_Mite_on_pupa2

Acarian Varroa Destructor

World-wide scientists are researching, so far in vain, to find the ideal solution to eliminate/neutralize Acarian Varroa Destructor.  My invention, the Bluebees Boards, is the only new option other than the use of insecticide strips which beekeepers place in their hives to kill interloping pests.

The revolutionary Bluebees Board is made of a fairly transparent plastic with food qualities properties.  Its design is simple and the Boards are very strong, made for the Australian professional beekeeper’s bush working conditions.

In the absence of Varroa D. in Australia, the Bluebees Boards work very well to control and keep the hive free of another recent interloping pest called the Small Hive Beetle (SHB) which invaded our shores some 12 years ago.

The Bluebees Boards allow and actually empower Mellifera honey bee colonies to control the SHB and live with any interloping pests.  Its design is simple but creates the right sustainable environment in the honeybee hives.

Since the appearance some 35 to 40 years ago of Varroa Destructor in Europe via Eastern Europe and America (USA), changes to the Brood Box Bottom Boards have been extensively tried.

The two most known of these modified bottom boards: the stainless steel mesh ventilated brood box board and the more modest and easier made from the traditional brood box bottom board, have not been the correct options to solve tenacious interloping pests.  The use of traps which contains chemical and insecticide strips placed in the hives have not been successful in getting rid of Varroa D. or SHB.

More and more beekeepers are slowly coming to terms with the realization that the traditional plain Brood Box Bottom Boards  may be harmful to the Mellifera bee colonies when dangerous interloping pests have invaded and established themselves in the honeybee hives.

I believe the designs of the traditional plain boards and both ventilated boards above-mentioned do not work and are no match when compared to the revolutionary Bluebees Boards design properties.

Research centres worldwide have committed over the years massive amounts of resources with the hope to discover solutions to control Biosecurity Threats.  This policy is necessary and must be encouraged.

The Asian bee, Apis Cerana shows clearly what is needed to control Varroa Destructor.  However, sadly our honeybees Apis Mellifera cannot replicate the life cycle of the Apis Cerana.  Although, my invention does not on one hand alter the Apis Mellifera  developing life cycle, it does on the other hand actually create the right sustainable environment in the Mellifera hives effectively assisting, and facilitating Mellifera honeybees to hunt and eject any interloping pests, detritus, debris etc. from the hives.

The right optimal airflow is also maintained within the entire beehive resulting in an excellent decrease of humidity and condensation which is created by all strong and healthy honey bee colonies.  The inside brood and super boxes become, and remain, dry.

It is necessary to clearly indicate that the traditional old Brood Box Bottom Boards, which have solid boards, allow the accumulation of detritus and debris, which when mixed with the water generated from condensation creates bacterial cultures where diseases and viruses readily develop, and will consequently disease any colonies of honey bees despite the propolis (natural antibiotics produced by the bees).

My revolutionary Bluebees Boards because of its technical design is the best preventive measure when compared with current cures which are based on dangerous chemicals to both our honeybees and beekeepers, let alone the honey produced which would have no doubt been contaminated.

Jean-Pierre

Photo of Jean-Pierre Mercader by Linda Craig-Sneyders

“Prevention is better than cure”.

My Boards are manufactured in Victoria, they are Intellectually Properties (IP) protected and are available for both the eight and ten frames hives.

In November 2012 my invention won the award at the Bendigo Inventor Award for Agriculture and Environment Sustainability and is now commercially available.

Jean-Pierre F Mercader
BLUEBEES Producers
jpm@bluebees.com.au  /  Mob.: 0412 451060