Powder Sugar Dusting is Fun!

I did another 24 hour mite drop test today.

It revealed (1) varroa mite dropped from the white hive and (33) on the blue/purple hive.


I planned to do a powder sugar dusting today on both hives regardless of what the test results were, but now it seems I may need to do another followup test in a week to see how the numbers stand then for the blue/purple hive.

Anyways, if you've never done a powder sugar dusting, it's quite a lot of fun!

It only takes about 1 cup of powder sugar per deep hive body to coat the bees. Using a simple powder sugar shaker from the kitchen (thanks to my wife for letting me use hers) I filled it up and gave a light dusting to the bees.

Coating them in powder sugar causes the mites to loose their grip and fall down through the screen bottom board and out of the hive.

It also causes the bees to groom themselves and each other which helps knock additional mites off.

The picture below is one of my favorites. You can see the powder sugar raining down in the middle of the picture, and granules of sugar falling from the bottom of the frame, probably from the bees shaking it off of themselves.

In the picture below, the bees gathered together and festooned off the bottom corner of the frame once they were covered in sugar.

One of the things we hadn't anticipated, is that once the bees were covered with sugar, they took to the air. Thousands of bees took flight to clean their wings and get themselves re-orientated.

I mean, if someone took the roof off of your house, and dusted powder sugar on you, I'm sure you'd run outside to see what was going on too!

They weren't angry, none of them attacked us, they were just out and about cleaning themselves. It was really something neat to see.

Once we were done, we noticed quite a few bees gathered on the lower branches of nearby brush. They were cleaning themselves and each other just like we expected!

Within a few minutes, they were all back in their hives, and everyone was happy again.

Comments For This Post: (4) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
Georgie @ Bees Hive says...
Date:   August 15, 2011, 10:03 pm

Hi Chris, I sure would be checking out the sugar dusters and probably getting angry at them too! Thanks for visiting Bees Hive - you have been added to Beekeeper's blog page. Are you in USA?

athenasbees says...
Date:   September 26, 2011, 8:57 am

Christ, thanks for looking at my bugged bee photo...I'm wondering if you used conventional powdered sugar that has cornstarch as an ingredient? I don't know of any other kind....but was wondering if that is essential to the treatment.

Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   September 27, 2011, 9:12 am

Great question athenasbees! I used the less expensive (Great Value) brand of confectioners powdered sugar. I didn't notice that it contained corn starch until you mentioned it, and I looked it up on the package. The corn starch is not necessary. It's only added to most powdered sugar packages to prevent moisture in the air causing the powdered sugar to clump together. I've been told you can make your own powdered sugar by blending granulated sugar in a food processor. I've never done it, but I think it would be fun to try.

athenasbees says...
Date:   October 3, 2011, 9:14 am

Hi again Chris. Reading over the weekend I found Ross Conrad commenting that the only reason to not use the powdered sugar with cornstarch is when the bees can not do cleansing flights due to low temps outside. He said they might be taxed to have to eliminate it from their systems. He uses regular confectioner's sugar with cornstarch. I'll blogg my results this week.

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