I completed my first sugar roll test this evening, and made some bees very, very, cross in the process. Basically this is a simple test to see what scale of varroa mite investation you might have in a hive.
Simply collect (ha!) about 200 to 300 bees in a jar and cover with a mesh top. It's best to get bees that have been on the brood. Add about 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar to the bees through the mesh and roll the bees around in the sugar for a couple of minutes to coat them. This is the bit that makes the bees cross - just in case that wasn't obvious. Anyway, the idea is that after a while any mites will have lost their footing on the sugary bees and will fall off.
You then have to shake the sugar (and mites) off the bees and onto a white piece of paper and count how many mites were on the bees. If there are about 10 (I think this is the number) you may need to think about treating them. My magic number was 3, so I think I'm OK. Susan's was about the same, so she is probably OK too. All this is good news as it means we don't have to think about any chemical treatment, at least for now. I really don't want to start treating with chemicals as I think that is part of the reason bees are in the mess they are currently in.
Oh yes, once you have counted the frosted bees (perhaps a new breakfast cereal will be spawned!) you shake them back in the hive. On the plus side for the bees, although they may be a bitdazed, they at least don't have mites now and they have had a sugar bath - not a bad exchange really.
Before all the excitement I managed to take a peek in the top hive box. Lots of lovely larvae, and I saw the queen. There seems to be plenty in the way of stores too. I will check over the coming weeks to make sure they have sufficient food for the winter. I too a quick look in the hive beetle trap as well. Some have been caught, but not as many as I would have wished. Still, I'll keep it in for another week or so and see where this gets me.
All in all a very good week for the girls!