Chemical-free grooming aid for honeybees.
This film shows how bees first get in contact with the 'flippers' on the Bee Gym, then start to develop their scratching techniques. It was filmed in August 2013.
This is the whole of the mite fall from Hive W1 over a 3 day period
during November 2014. There are 192 mites of which 26 were dried up
dead mites, the rest were alive and kicking.
What Beekeepers are Saying about the Bee Gym
I think this whole design is a brilliant idea! No chemicals! Easy to put in! I've looked through the mesh floor with an old Ford Escort wing mirror to see the bees grooming, it's a heartwarming sight. As are the live tiny mites which have obviously been dislodged, crawling around on the board (but hampered by vaseline).
Thanks a lot.
On my last inspection the Bee Gym was in use. I feel sure that having a Bee Gym available from the start has been the main reason for the extremely low Varroa count throughout last season, and so far this season. Thank you.
the bee gym is still in my long hive and I've been counting mite drop on a (mostly) daily basis all season. The mite drop peaked at about 40 a day in early July and has gradually declined over the summer and at present it is less than 5 a day .. sometimes as low as nothing ! The bees are healthy, no sign of brood disease, DWV or Nosema. They are a delight to handle and remain completely untreated so, in terms of varroa, I'm doing something right.
When the mite drop has been at its highest I've noticed a pattern of dead mites beneath your original bee gym ... it's less noticeable now there are less mites and I know from an earlier inspection that the bees have 'modified' the bee gym by removing some of the 'scraper tapes'. I don't know whether this is because they have over used it or whether they decided they were foreign bodies and decided to remove them!
Stuart, just to let you know that I installed a BeeGym in one of
my hives a week ago and put a Vaseline smeared floor tray in as well.
Yesterday I counted 25 dead varroa mites on the tray. It’s a
strong colony on 14 x 12 brood frames (6 with brood) and 4 supers
I had put the tray in for a week beforehand without the bee gym and only counted 2 mites after a week (but I forgot to put the Vaseline on it so it’s not a direct comparison because I suppose the fallen mites could have climbed back). Nonetheless an impressive change.
Matthew Last (May2014)
Stuart, just to let you know that my bees are incredibly healthy
now that I have installed Bee Gyms in all 3 hives. I have them on the
floors but am now considering putting them in ekes on the brood box.
I don’t measure mite drop but no longer see any deformed wings in either colony.
Matthew Last (May 2015)
Hi Stuart, I have to say that the device does appear to work - thank you.
I normally have a low varroa presence, and since I inserted the Bee Gym into my three hives at the beginning of April I have noted a very low / zero count of mites on my varroa boards.
I should add that two weeks ago I also applied Thymovar to see if this would affect the mite drop, and again today when I inspected there was a zero mite drop.
Many thanks for your email. I look forward to receiving the Bee Gyms. You may recall I purchased four Bee Gyms a few weeks ago, which I immediately put into four hives. I have been impressed with the varroa drop in those four colonies in comparison to the varroa drop in the hive I have been using as a control.
I am therefore planning to put Bee Gyms into all of my hives. And I am very much hoping that they will prove to be a viable non-chemical form of varroa control.
Good luck with your further research.
How does it work?
The Bee Gym is a framework consisting of four different shaped devices, which bees can use to scrape off or injure Varroa mites or other parasites.
1 The Flipper is a protruding, shaped plastic blade.
2 The spikes stick up from the side-bars of the gym.
3 The Limbo string is a fine thread stretched over a gap that the bees crawl through. It scrapes off mites from the bees’ backs.
4 The Parallel Strings are two fine threads, the upper and lower strings that the bee holds on to, and rubs against to dislodge or injure mites.
The framework is placed on the floor of a beehive. The bees come and visit it for a scratch or a grooming session. Any mites that are injured or flicked off fall through the mesh floor of the hive.
Does the Bee Gym fit into all types of beehive?
The Bee Gym is designed to sit on the wire mesh floor of any modern beehive. It is hard to say whether or not it would work in an older hive with a solid floor, since this hasn’t been tried yet.
When is the best time to start using a Bee Gym?
Our initial tests suggest that the Bee Gym is more effective if it goes in when the mite population is low. This could be after another form of treatment, when introducing a bought-in nucleus colony or in winter when a higher percentage of the Varroa mites are attached to the bees.
How easy is it to install?
The Bee Gym is easy to install, as it can be placed on the hive floor whenever the beekeeper is doing an inspection or checking the condition of the bees. The brood boxes are lifted away and the Bee Gym is then put in place.
If the bees have built any comb below the bottom bars of the frames, the Bee Gym might not have enough space to fit in. In this case some space can be made, by cutting the wild comb away.
The side bars on the frame stand 8mm above the mesh floor of the hive and the bees need another 7mm to move around on the Gym, so the gap required is 15mm.
What makes the Bee Gym different from other treatments?
The Bee Gym works with the bees all year round because it stays in the hive. It even seems to be busy during the winter when the bees cluster directly over and around the Bee Gym.
Chemical treatments require the attention of a beekeeper and can only be used for a limited period. Some chemicals cannot be used when a honey crop is in the hive. Most of the chemical treatments for Varroa have detrimental effects on bees.
How long will a Bee Gym last?
A Bee Gym requires minimal maintenance aside from an annual clean, and is designed to last for several years. As with any foreign object placed into a beehive, the bees will try to destroy it and eject it from the hive, so there will be some wear and tear.
Does the Bee Gym fit into current Varroa control?
The Bee Gym fits very well into current Varroa control, as part of the Integrated Pest Management approach.
Mini Bee Gym
In 2016 I developed a mini version of the Bee Gym, it lives with the bees on the brood frames themselves. This
means it's at the heart of the nest where the bees (and their parasites)
spend most of their time.
Our trials so far have resulted in strong healthy colonies in mini Gym hives. There isn't much data yet, but I've been encouraged to make them available for beekeepers who want to try this approach in combination with the Bee Gym.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and check the Bee Gym Blog where I will post the results I have so far.