The overall purpose of IPM is the elimination or reduction of unnecessary application of toxic pesticides. In most cases it isn't reasonable or perhaps even necessary to reduce a pest presence to zero. Simply reducing a population to a level that bees can tolerate and manage on their own is the goal. To quote from a favored resource…1)
IPM has an order to it. Implementing an IPM plan is not necessarily linear process. Instead it's like adding all these items as ingredients to a recipe. They work together, often simultaneously.
In almost all of these aspects of IPM there are two implementations. A General and an Active.
For each of these aspects, we will identify both implementations by BBE-Tech Apiary Services.
IPM is heavily focused on prevention and early intervention. The more that can be done to stop a problem before it can become a problem, the more efficient your beekeeping efforts will be.
Having said that, prophylactic implementation of any chemical pesticides without having evidence of need or presence is greatly discouraged. At BBE-Tech Apiary Services, it is unacceptable entirely.
To borrow from a favored book 2), here is a look at preferred control methods…
Something we stress in our apiary efforts is that poison is poison, regardless if it is synthetic or natural. One must bee extremely careful using any toxic or poisonous chemical so as not to mix or apply incorrectly.
Another old saying is that the difference between medicine and poison is the dosage. This is so often the case. Too little has no useful effect, just enough has beneficial effect and too much has a detrimental effect.
Always be sure of mixing and application methods, ratios, and rates before using any toxic chemical.
IPM works by establishing thresholds. There are two basic thresholds, the first is called the ““Treatment” threshold and the second is the “Economic” threshold.
The Treatment threshold is called that because it indicates the “line drawn in the sand” that the threat level has reached a point as to begin to be problematic for the colony. It is this threshold that aggressive prevention tactics and early intervention tactics are implemented so as to reduce or remove the threat to a point it is not problematic to the colony before more drastic methods are required.
The Economic threshold is in place because it is when that line has been crossed that the threat level or pest presence is so overwhelming to the colony that immediate and sometimes drastic methods need to be implemented in order to avoid complete loss or death of the colony.
At BBE-Tech Apiary Services, we have developed a system that correlates to the two thresholds in IPM.
After inspections, we evaluate all the data and categorize hives as being in one of three “Zones”.
After inspections are complete and evaluated, we mark the hive(s) identified with a color code sticker with the most recent date of inspection written on it.
There is a good reason to study known existing threats to honey bee colonies, possible responses to those threats, the pro's and con's of their use. The more aware we are of these things, the better we can take appropriate action in time rather than wasting valuable time and resources by not knowing what to do and trying to hastily take actions in desperation, unsure of the effect overall.
Here we make a list of all possible threats/pests and list not only them but the likelihood of them in our area and the best practical responses to them that fit into our approach and at which threshold stage or “zone” as we call it it is best implemented.
Here is a list of threats/pests for our apiary(s).
At this level, we are discussing being able to identify threats and pests during an active inspection or during general observation.
Here again, familiarity leads to greater success. The more immediately and accurately we can identify threats at “Ground zero” the better we can implement a successful solution.
Overall, when making a list of potential threats and pests, not only do we identify what they are, we determine at what point they reach a particular threshold. Basically, at what point does it “cross the line”.
For example, we might look for a specific number or ratio to be the determining factor or a specific state or condition to be present. Having those thresholds established at the beginning can go a long way to better management and greater success.
During an inspection or during observation, it may have been planned to do certain tests for threats or it may be a matter of continuous monitoring at each inspection. Either way, when the Apiarist identifies the threat presence, they should also either immediately test or otherwise determine the level or conditions of that threat or make plans to that end. This will be used later during the assessment stage in how to best address the threat.
Knowing what is in your arsenal of solutions and treatment methods. So the list that we aggregated beforehand will include the potential threats, their local likelihood, their threshold levels and the best practices of implementing each potential response.
Given the potential for multiple threats presenting simultaneously and at different levels, we cannot assume that the response for a Yellow Zone infraction by itself will be the best case if there is a second threat present at the same or different level.
Knowing in general what type of overall approach to beekeeping we intend (we consider ourselves Organic in management so toxic pesticides are automatically ruled out) will indicate or influence your potential responses and opportunities to implement those.
The Apiary Manager, having knowledge of the overall Apiary Plan, can make an assessment on which response to threat levels based on cooled data during inspection. Making that assessment at the time of or immediately after the inspection will allow for best practices and results.
Knowing all the previous information ahead of time and in the interest of being prepared for the season, we can obtain, accumulate, and prepare the materials required for the control methods and responses we have decided on.
Having these things at the ready from the beginning of the season helps us to implement the control methods we decided to implement in the Active assessment.
This allows us a more immediate response hopefully allowing us to reduce the threat before worsening or permanent damage is incurred.
Once the assessment has been made, the Apiary Manager will either direct the Apiarist or assist in applying and implementation of the control method according to the best practices already determined in the use of said control methods. That might require an immediate response or scheduling a procedure into the management of the hive(s) in question as determined to have the best effect.
Having a system in place to document actions and store the records for easy retrieval will help the overall management process greatly.
Decide on a format and media beforehand and have those materials ready. Trading everyone involved on terminology, syntax, timing and access will help continuity and consistency.
As a part of the list of threats, an evaluation period or point needs to be identified so that success or failure of methods implemented can be evaluated and discontinued, modified or changed out completely.
At all times during the inspection and implementation process, all Apiarists involved should be actively recording all pertinent information.
After active implementation, ongoing observation and continued documentation of results, degree of impact, timing of effect post implementation to either resolution or failure needs to be happening.