Ag Valuation with Honeybees

Agricultural Valuation – aka “Ag Exemption” – with Honey Bees

Do you own 5 to 20 acres? Are you interested in saving hundreds, maybe even thousands on your property taxes each year (especially by preventing rollback taxes!)  ?     Are you a land developer that has properties that need to maintain Ag Valuation until building can begin – years down the road?

If so, having honey bees can help you qualify. We sell bees hives with an established colony (seasonally), but for those that may not want to get into beekeeping, we also perform agriculture maintenance with our hives to land owners for a reasonable management fee. We do everything to manage and maintain the bees, and you reap the rewards that ag-valuation provides for your property for the use of your land.

Have our Honey Bee hives to qualify for an Ag Valuation and leave the Beekeeping to Harmony Hollow Apiary.  Call Rex at 469-251-2BEE (2233) for more information and pricing.

October 2023 – we are currently taking commitments for placing and managing hives in Spring of 2024 to continue (or start) your ag history for 2024.   Best to contact Harmony Hollow between Fall 2023 and January 2024. (Do NOT Wait til the end of April to ask about hives – it takes time to build up the livestock for each colony).    State LATE deadline for 1-D-1 paperwork is April 30.

Texas law, effective January 1, 2012, made it possible for beekeeping to qualify for an Agricultural Valuation (commonly called “ag exemption” – see below) on property taxes. This is covered in the Tax Code under Chapter 23, Subchapter D, Sect. 23.51 (1) and (2).

An Agriculture Exemption is not actually an Exemption but rather a Special Valuation. If a portion or all of a property is deemed eligible to receive an Agricultural Valuation, that property will receive a Production Value along with its Market Value. The tax savings that a property receives depends on the current Market Value of the property and what type of Ag Valuation you are requesting. For example, Native Pasture areas may have a lower Ag valuation than Dry Crop areas and generally both are considerably lower than the market value that the taxes would normally be based on.  That is dependent on county.  (Some counties do not differentiate they type of agriculture activity, and have 1 rate for ag no matter the qualifying activity.  Other counties have different rates for different activities)

There are several key phrases and requirements to this law. Sect. 23.51 (1) covers the definition of “qualified open-space land”. Specifics state land that has an established agricultural use history for five of the preceding seven years. Record keeping is critical. Registration and permitting with Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS) helps establish this history. Wording of the law states agricultural use to the degree of intensity generally accepted in the area. Each local appraisal district sets their own standards as the accepted degree of intensity.  Most appraisal districts use a minimum of six colonies (beehives) as a standard. That is the accepted definition of an apiary from Texas bee law under the Agriculture Code, Title 6, subtitle A, Chapter 131, Sect. 131.001 (2).  (Which has just changed as of the 2023 Texas Legislative session- as they removed the number of hives definition).

Size of qualifying acreage is not less than 5 or more than 20 acres. Remember the definition of agriculture use. Losing an acre to a homestead exemption has to be accounted for on acreage. (check with your appraisal district to be sure, though -as I have heard of counties allowing the full acreage without removing an acre for the home)

Also, realize the landowner does not have to own the bees. You may hire the maintenance of bees from a beekeeper who owns the hives.    Again, keep accurate and complete records. The wording of the law states “the use of land to raise or keep bees for pollination or for the production of human food or other tangible products having a commercial value.”

Lastly, it is important to stress the fact that each local appraisal district can set their own standards and requirements for the beekeeping valuation. Please contact your local appraisal district for guidance and minimum requirements.   Some counties may want to see a copy of a bee maintenance agreement or land lease or access agreement as part of your documentation before coming to evaluate your property for ag valuation.  Some require a special report be submitted annually.    Most county appraisal districts now have this information available on the county appraisal district website.

Benefits include:

  • Professional management and maintenance of beehives on your property
  • Annual Transport Registration through the Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS)
  • Pollination for your property
    Contributing to the welfare of the honeybees
  • Annual Report listing harvested (and non-harvested if applicable) tangible products with commercial value.
  • Qualifying requirements for Harmony Hollow Apiary management include:

The site must be suitable for bees and provide the necessary elements for bees to thrive. A complimentary site visit will be scheduled for prospective clients.  A Honeybee Management Plan is included – and lists expectations of flowering plants that the landowner should seed or plant – for the benefit of honeybees and ALL other native pollinators.

Harmony Hollow Apiary must have unrestricted access to the location of the hives at all times.  (For locked properties – I can/will provide a lock to add to your chain of locks on a gate – or you can provide me with a gate code)

A 2-wheel drive vehicle must be able to access the area where the hives are located and park no further than 10 yards from the hives’ location.

Harmony Hollow Apiary reserves the rights of ownership to the bees, the equipment, and the products of the hives.


Apiary Registration: As of 1 Sept 2023, Texas Apiary Inspection Service will no longer process “Apiary Registrations” – that has been changed in the last legislative session to “Beekeeper Registration”. The property owner can register as “the beekeeper”, or the beekeeper (if hired) can register as “the beekeeper” for the property. I personally register annually – and can list your property under my registration. The appraisal district MAY have upcoming guidelines listing who THEY want to see listed (either property owner, or hired beekeeper). That registration is NO LONGER FREE. It is now $35 per year.

For areas where you OWN the hives – You may need to pay the TAIS their fee ( $10) for them to issue a “brand ID number” to you.  (Otherwise – mark the hives or the apiary with an identifying name/contact info – which is perfectly acceptable to law enforcement or TAIS)    Note that in 2023 – Legislation has changed a bit – and TAIS may implement another (online) way for property owners to list their land with bees as an Apiary)

For hives that Harmony Hollow Owns – our ID number is marked on the equipment.

Your county appraisal district will have the 1-D-1 Application for you to fill out for ag use of your land.

We are based near the Dallas, Texas Metroplex. However, we cover a large portion of North and East Texas. Contact us to reserve bees for your property.

Registered with and Permitted by the Texas Apiary Inspection Service, Department of Entomology, Texas A&M University.   Copy of current transport permits for Harmony Hollow Apiary are available here: (Note – as of Sept 1 2023 – There are no longer intrastate transport permits issued by TAIS).

I also recommend putting up a sign to warn people about the dangers of agribusiness (farm animals – which includes bees).   Harmony Hollow has signs for locations where we own the bees – and signs are available at a cost of $20ea for locations where the property owner owns the bees)

2023 Honeybee Removal Information

Rex Smith’s Honeybee Removal – 2023


If you are in need of having a honeybee swarm picked up, or a full colony of bees removed from a structure – please see the following links for my contact information:  (These same links are in the top menu bar on this website as well.)

Also please understand that most bee removal specialists are overwhelmed beginning in March with calls.  In peak season I personally receive between 30-40 calls per day – and occasionally do several full removals per day, as well as manage 400+ hives for agriculture contracts.    If I do not answer the phone, I am probably in a hive – so please do leave a message and I will return the call as quickly as possible.

My bee line is 469-251-2BEE (2233) – please DO read the removal information links and FAQ links below, however.

I will ask you (a) How long the bees have been there.  (b) How high from the ground is their entrance.  (c) Your location, and (d) for any photos you can text to me to help assess the structure overall and zoomed in photos of where the bees are entering/exiting.

Removal Information:

Frequently asked questions (and my answers):

YouTube Channel  (Please Subscribe!!)

Facebook Page (Please “Like” the page!!)

Alternatively, feel free to consult the list of other professional bee removers in your county at the link below:

Rex Smith is a member of the Texas Association of Professional Bee Removers    #TxAPBR


Varroa Mite Management with your hives

Varroa mites are the latest finding in the plight of our agricultural (and hobby) European Honeybees.  The Varroa Destructor is known to be a vector (carrier for diseases) for several viruses, including (but NOT limited to:)

  • SacBrood
  • Deformed Wing Virus (DWV)
  • Black Queen Cell Virus (BQCV)
  • Nosema Apis
  • Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV)
  • Lake Sinai Virus 1, Lake Sinai Virus 2 (LSV1, LSV2)
  • Acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV)
  • Kashmir bee virus (KBV)
  • Kakugo Virus
  • Varroa Destructor Virus 1
  • Israel acute paralysis virus (IAPV)
  • Slow Bee Paralasys Virus (SBPV)

(list source: )

While there is a rift in some beekeeping circles and groups about whether varroa mites can be managed with breeding “varroa resistant” or with “hygienic behavior” in bees – the fact remains that if bees are bred to coexist with – or to tolerate the varroa mites, then the colonies are subjected to a variety of possible diseases.  Folks that are “treatment free” – should still perform varroa mite count tests – and not be disillusioned about the fact that mites are in your hives.

Another option is to use scientifically bred lines of queens that produce workers that do indeed perform hygienic behavior as a method of culling affected brood that has been infected with mite progeny (offspring) )from a reproductive foundress (female founding) mite.  Research on this line of selective breeding can be found through Arista Bee Research Labs around the world.

A fantastic resource for learning to do mite-counts and various treatment methods is available at : (link will open in new tab or window)  This has been updated in June of 2018 – and also includes links to videos showing how to perform mite-counts as well as several treatment methods.

Monitoring methods

Varroa mites can be monitored with any of several methods.

Alcohol Wash (or soap/water wash)

Sugar Roll

My personal take on monitoring methods is this:  If you are going to be taking measurements for ANY metrics – you want as accurate of a sampling as possible.   I do NOT believe that a sugar-roll will give you as accurate results as other methods.   Yes – that means that some bees will be sacrificed for the greater cause of knowing your mite loads.   If you’re going to collect data – make sure it’s ACCURATE data.

Treatment Methods

Dealing with varroa is a delicate and tricky proposition – when it is considered that we are trying to eliminate a “bug ON a bug”.  And the host bug (apis mellifera – or honeybee) we want to thrive and be healthy.

A variety of treatment methods can be employed.  I’ll also say, though – that some have proven to be ineffective.   See this video link for a quick overview.

  • VSH Lines of honeybees (Added Nov 2019)
  • Oxalic Acid (OA) Vaporizing
  • OA Fogging
  • OA Drizzle
  • OA Long Release (shop towel or Swedish sponge application)
  • Thermal Heat Treatment of the hive (added Jan 2019)
  • Apiguard
  • Formic Acid
  • Drone Brood Culling
  • Brood Break
  • Thymol (in various application methods)
  • Screened bottom boards (ineffective – not a control – but as a monitoring method)

There are many more treatment methods that were found on the internet while researching treatment methods.  Some – such as using screened bottom boards – have been dis-proven to be effective by themselves – however MAY be an aide to help another method be more effective.  Regardless – it is recommended that you employ at least two methods for varroa control.

Newer methods of applying Oxalic Acid are being experimented with by several researchers, including Randy Oliver of Scientific Beekeeping, and others in Central Texas.

Randy’s OA results are shown here:
and his 2022 end-of-year report is here:
and importantly:

(Jan 2019) – Experiments with using thermal heat treatments of the hive have proved effective for varroa management.  In essence, the hive is heated to 106 deg. F for about 2 hours.  This mimics the temperature that is achieved in nature that is associated with hive overcrowding for swarming action.  This temperature also is that which the varroa cannot survive.  When the hive temperature is raised to 106 deg. F. – the mites attached to the bodies, and those that are in the brood cells are killed – thus breaking the mite’s life cycle – and allowing the colony to move forward with fresh brood that is healthy.


Honeybee Health Coalition:

Arista Bee Research Labs

Randy Oliver – Scientific Beekeeping –

Mighty Mite Thermal Industries –

Dave Cushman –

Photo from:


Free Plans and Video – Leopold Bench/ DIY Back Yard Bench

The attached video and plans will show how the bench designed by Aldo Leopold is cut and assembled.

These plans are freely available – and I ask that you watch my video on building your own.  Though – watching the video is not necessary – it is helpful.




Leopold Bench Plans with 2×6 (pdf)





Beekeeping Changes in 2023

This year, legislation was passed that was an overhaul of Texas Agriculture Code for beekeeping.  This is Chapter 131 of the Texas Agriculture Code.

The following letter was sent from the Texas Apiary Inspection Service in regards to some of the changes that take effect on Sept 1.

Changes coming September 1st, 2023 to the Texas Apiary Inspection Service. The Texas Beekeeper’s Association (TBA) has worked for several years to update Chapter 131, “The Bee Laws.”

HB 4538 passed in our recent legislative session and will take effect September 1st, 2023. Many thanks from Texas beekeepers to Representative Kyle Kacal and State Senator Morgan LaMantia for their work in making this happen.

Registration will not be required, but if requested, a $35 fee will be assessed. Registration will be valid through the end of the fiscal year and must be renewed each September 1st.
Intrastate permitting will be repealed. No longer will there be restrictions on moving bees across county lines. Beekeepers doing live removals will still be required to pay the $35 fee for the annual registration, but it will be a different form as opposed to the Removal Transportation Form.

Apiary definition will have “six or more” struck.

Beekeeper – means a person who owns, leases, possesses, controls, or manages one or more colonies of bees for any personal or commercial use.

In situations involving Ag Valuation/Exemption, the beekeeper and/or landowner can decide who should register.

The law changes the registration to “beekeeper” registration, not “apiary” registration.

The focus will still have space to place apiary location(s).

Beekeepers moving bees into and out of Texas will no longer have to do separate Importation and Exportation permits. One Interstate permit will replace these. This permit will be an annual fiscal year (September 1st – August 31st) operational permit with a fee of $250. Beekeepers can then come and go with bees.

The fee for a requested inspection (by TAIS) will increase to $100.

We ask patience of everyone as we make these changes. Feel free to reach out to us with questions or concerns.

Bill Baxter (Interim Chief Apiary Inspector)
Hannah Blackburn (Apiary Inspector)

Pallet Porch Couches

At one time – I wanted to be a Palleteer!

A friend mentioned that she’s like some benches to sit on and enjoy her back porch.  I figured I could help out with that – and move along some of the stack of pallets I’d accumulated for such projects.

Unfortunately, these are all the pics I have of the pallet couches.

After initial assembly, I realized that the seats needed more support.  So I added fence-slats that match the thickness of the existing boards – to fill in the blanks.

She found some patio cushions on clearance at a national chain hardware store to put on for the seats and backs.

Easy to build bench

A friend was needing a spot for guests to sit and remove / put back on shoes before entering her home and leaving the home.

This is a very simple design, made with a scrap 2×8 – cut in half, and scrap 2×4’s cut to the shape of a box – to form the legs.   Very simple.  Make yours as tall or short as you need, and as long as you need.


Coming Home Magazine

Coming Home magazine is a publication focused towards community living and HOA demographics.

Karina Burnett -Senior Copyrighter interviewed Rex Smith of Harmony Hollow Apiary – to learn more about bees and what a beekeeper does.

Here’s a link to a digital copy of the Summer 2023 edition containing the interview – my interview starts on page 8.

Note:  Update: In Question 1 – Bees pollinate plants – they do not fertilize them.

Texas Legislation to watch – Beekeeping related

This year is a legislative session year in Texas – and several proposed bills would affect the beekeeping industry.    I’ll provide a brief synopsis and link to the bill info – and present my opinion as to whether I personally support the bill.   Some are in relation to honeybees and beekeeping as related to ag valuation of land in Texas.   Some is in relation to processing of honey…

HB-4538     Kacal

6-13-2023 – Signed by Governor
Relating to the regulation of beekeeping; imposing fees and authorizing other fees; expanding the applicability of an occupational permit.

Texas Agriculture code for beekeeping has needed an overhaul for a LONG time – and these changes are to keep up with (a) the culture of agriculture and ease of documenting various ag valuation processes.     It clarifies and rewords some sections, and codifies come equipment that is allowed as “beekeeping equipment” in relation to performing honeybee removals from structures.

Rex Smith and Harmony Hollow Apiary – SUPPORTS this bill.
HB-2329     Bailes

Postponed to March 2024 – Killed by a commercial beekeeper from Houston

Relating to honey production operations and the harvesting and packaging of honey and honeycomb.

Rex Smith and Harmony Hollow Apiary – SUPPORTS this bill.

HB-2769      Meza / Flores

5-5-2023 – Sent to Ag Affairs – Killed

Relating to the repeal of the permit requirement for the intrastate shipment of bees.

Rex Smith and Harmony Hollow Apiary – SUPPORTS this bill.


HB-3857     Thimesch
SB-1455      Paxton 

5-11-2023 – Referred to Local Govt. – Killed

Relating to the eligibility of land for appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes as qualified open-space land.    This twin set of bills allows an expanded definition to allowable ag activity for agriculture valuation.

Rex Smith and Harmony Hollow Apiary – SUPPORTS these 2 bills.


HB-590       Bailes

3-30-2023 – Killed (passed to Ag affairs)

Relating to the labeling and sale of Texas honey.

Rex Smith and Harmony Hollow Apiary – DOES NOT SUPPORT this bill.


HB-2684      Burns

5-10-2023 – Killed – Referred to Transportation

Relating to the issuance of oversize or overweight permits for vehicles transporting agricultural commodities during or preceding a disaster.

Rex Smith and Harmony Hollow Apiary – remains NEUTRAL on this bill.


SB-1892     Springer

3-20-2023 – Killed – Referred to Local

Relating to the eligibility of land for appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes as qualified open-space land based on its use to raise or keep bees.    This bill defines density level of colonies on properties.   This is NOT realistic in much of Texas because of our greatly varied natural resources.   What may be fine in one region of Texas – can be WAY too many bees for the amount of natural forage in other counties/regions.   Each county should be able to set the density level and time on property – based on the available forage.

Rex Smith and Harmony Hollow Apiary – DOES NOT SUPPORT this bill.


SB-2427     Zaffirini

3-23-2023 – Killed – Referred to Local

Relating to the eligibility of land for appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes as qualified open-space land.

Rex Smith and Harmony Hollow Apiary – DOES NOT SUPPORT this bill.


Sowing the seeds….

This winter I am planning to add seeds to several bee yards.  I encourage every property owner that I manage bees for – to plant wildflower seeds to promote forage to help the bees.    In locations where no additional seeding has been offered to the Earth, I am doing some tests – with a goal of feeding manually to a much lesser degree than in the past.

I bought bulks cooking seeds from an Indian grocery store – where many spices and herbs come as bulk seeds – and are affordable.

Enjoy the video where I start germination tests on Mustard seed, Dill, Sesame (Brown and Black), and black peppers – on this time around.

Come to YAM for your honey this Saturday!

Come to Yoga Art Music (YAM Dallas) this coming Saturday for their Small Business Saturday from 1pm-5pm to get your Holiday honey and support several small local businesses.

We will be at:
9850 Walnut Hill Ln (Suite 427), Dallas Tx 75238.
Saturday, Nov 26 2022 – 1pm-5pm

As a bonus – if you are a prior Harmony Hollow customer, and have glass honey jars that you’d like to recycle – bring them in with you for a $1 credit ea towards your next honey purchase.  (must be a Harmony Hollow labeled pint or quart jar)


Sept 2022 Newsletter

This year has been so very dry (up until this week) – and natural food availability has been very scarce for the honeybees. You may have noticed that I’ve making rounds more often this summer to make sure they have supplemental feeding with sugar syrup provided directly into the hives, as well as protein supplements – to stimulate brood rearing. I’ll also be placing/refilling powdered pollen substitute near(ish) to the hives for supplemental feeding. The goal with the feeding is to not only sustain the bees – but provide extra food to allow them to survive through whatever winter will throw at us this next year.  I have also been performing mite treatments on the colonies.

I’d like to also pass along a reminder that as temperatures get cooler – it the optimal time to sow and plant your pollinator wildflower seed mixes for your 1-D-1 land management program. That gives the seeds and plants through the winter to germinate and start growth, then blooms in the spring and summer to provide nectar and pollen (carbohydrate and protein sources). Best germination is when the seeds can directly touch the soil and be covered lightly. Sowing on top of grasses has a significantly lower germination rate.

A good (yet verbose) set of seed sowing guidelines is here:

Pollinator wildflower mixes are available from companies such as:

Turner Seed (Breckenridge TX)    
Native American Seed Co.            
American Meadows                     
Bulk Seed Store                          

and Google turns up many other suppliers as well.

Finally – if you have not listed your property as an apiary with the Texas Apiary Inspection Service (TAIS) – that can be done at the following link: then select Apiary Registration Application.

Once filled out and mailed in – TAIS will return a confirmation receipt via US Mail – and this is more documentation that helps your application for 1-D-1 agriculture status for your land.

At the end of the year – I will be sending out an annual synopsis of the harvests from all my managed bees. In most cases this year, the harvest was in the form of producing more livestock (honeybees) to replace hives that may have perished.

Rex Smith
Harmony Hollow Apiary
469-251-2BEE (2233)

Varroa Mite Reproduction – Adult varroa on developing pupa. Photo credit: Dennis Anderson

Varroa and Mite Management – More important than ever

It is now July of 2022, and Varroa Destructor mites have been detected in Australia.   The beekeepers there have long enjoyed their vocation (and hobby) of beekeeping without this pest, which is a known transmission vector for at least 27 destructive viruses.

Varroa Mite

Australia’s Department of Primary Industries current action plan is to eradicate the varroa – by eradicating the food upon which they feed.    That means that the bee colonies – both managed and feral – in the know contamination zones – will be destroyed to destroy the pest.  My understanding is that honey harvests, equipment, and bees – all will be destroyed in an attempt to give their continent a clean slate again.

Varroa Mite Reproduction – Adult varroa on developing pupa. Photo credit: Dennis Anderson

Varroa feed upon the hemoglyph (fat bodies) within the body of the bee (and other pollinators as well).  Their reproductive cycle – occurs in the cell of a honeybee larvae – as it pupates.   An excerpt from the USDA states:

Varroa reproduce in capped worker and drone brood cells. Mature female mites (called mother mites or foundresses) enter cells just prior to capping. The foundress starts feeding on the brood within six hours of the cell being sealed, and feeding occurs regularly thereafter. The site on the larvae where the foundress pierces the cuticle to feed becomes the feeding area for her offspring. The first egg laid by the foundress develops into a male. The second egg develops into a female mite that mates with the male. The foundress mite feeds on the developing larvae, and can transmit several different viruses in the process. In worker brood, foundress mites produce 1-2 mated daughter mites. In drone brood, which takes longer to mature, 2-3 mated daughters can be produced. When the bee is fully developed, and emerges from the capped cell, the foundress mite and her daughters emerge and attach to adult bees. Mites on adult bees are called ‘phoretic mites’. Most commonly, phoretic mites attach to young worker bees tending developing brood (i.e., nurse bees). Nurse bees are the target of phoretic mites because the bees remain in the brood area and can serve as a vehicle to transport mites to brood cells. Phoretic mites can feed on adult bees, but when a brood cell of suitable age is found, the mite will detach and enter the cell to reproduce. Mites will enter and reproduce in worker brood, but preferentially enter drone brood if it is available.  Source:  ( Varroa Mite Life Cycle and Reproduction – from Carl Hayden Bee Research Center: Tucson, AZ )

When they were detected in the US in 1986 – after being found first in Mexico and Canada, the destruction to colonies was massive.  Entire operations lost to disease being transferred from these pests.

Varroa Life Cycle – photo credit Bayer @

In other parts of the world, we have learned to deal with varroa with several methods.  Chemical, Environmental, and Genetic shifts are currently being employed.    Of these – so far – there is no “Magic Bullet” that eradicates the mite completely…

Chemical treatments may include: (but no limited to)  Apivar , ApiGuard, Formic Acid (Formic Pro, etc) , Oxalic Acid in various forms (liquid drizzle, vaporized gas, blended with glycerine onto sheets, etc.

Environmental changes include heat / thermal treatments of the brood space of the colonies.   Products such as the “Bee Hive Thermal Industries” – Mighty Mite Thermal Treatment uses a heat plate to raise the internal hive temperature to 106 deg F – which has been proven to sterilize mites so they cannot reproduce.   This done on a regimen of several treatment periods spaced 5 days apart – can interrupt the life cycle of the varroa.   This method was employed after observation of the natural brood break cycles that occur when a colony swarms.   During the initial swarm period, hive temperature is raised by the bees, and was found to be a “knock down period” for the mite.   With the development of tools to simulate this temperature shift in a controlled manner, the mites can be knocked back significantly.

Genetic Shifts include the raising and reproduction of queens and colonies that have true Varroa Sensitive Hygiene (VSH).   VSH was first described as being behavior in which the bees groomed the mites off of each other.  This, while nice, doesn’t necessarily mean the bees are performing significant changes to their internal health & hive cleanliness.   True VSH behavior has since been found in colonies that sense a difference in the developing honeybee pupae.  They can sense (by smell) a cell that has varroa inside – and will uncap the pupating larvae – remove it (and the attached mite(s) feeding and reproducing on the body of that developing bee, and throw it out of the hive.   Hygienic Behavior at it’s finest.    While this does not kill the mite immediately – it allows the bees to deal with the mites that exist in their natural environment, and toss them out the front door to die outside of the hive with the discarded pupae.

Queen breeders and researchers around the world have been working on developing lines of genetics that have this behavior.  Arista Bee Research – based in the Netherlands works with and provides scientific methods and metrics for queen breeders and beekeepers internationally to report findings from their queens, then produce queens from those lines, and continue to take metrics, and provide a supply of queens from various producers that can handle existing with varroa and managing the colony because of that varroa.

Breeders toughen up bees to resist deadly mites

Long term – at some point – Australia – IF it is able to eradicate the varroa temporarily – will need to instill a program that DOES work.  The bug and it’s diseases WILL be back. Eventually the virus and it’s transmission method will make it across barriers again.

I urge beekeepers to know the status of their hives and varroa levels.   When varroa increase their population – we see it’s effect in the hive in the form of changed behavior, absconds, expression of disease symptoms (i.e. Deformed Wing Virus ‘DWV’).

Use a method to see what your mite-load is in your hives.   Randy Oliver of Scientific Beekeeping has articles on performing mite counts.  See here:  Mite Wash Counts and Refining the Mite Wash

A recent article Randy authored on Australia:  The varroa incursion in Australia 4 July 2022

For me – the immediate use of vaporized OA as well as thermal treatments when possible for my yards – as well as a shift in queen sources (and my own rearing of those genetics) will be my long-term plan.   Let’s hope that Australia’s Department of Primary Industries comes up with a similar plan to manage the bees and pests – instead of eradication of an industry.