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)
  • Chronic Bee Paralysis Virus (CBPV)
  • Acute bee paralysis virus (ABPV)
  • Kashmir bee virus (KBV)
  • Israel acute paralysis virus (IAPV)
  • Slow Bee Paralasys Virus (SBPV)

(list source: http://articles.extension.org/pages/71172/honey-bee-viruses-the-deadly-varroa-mite-associates )

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.

A fantastic resource for learning to do mite-counts and various treatment methods is available at :
https://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/varroa/ (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

Sugar Roll

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.

  • Oxalic Acid (OA) Vaporizing
  • OA Fogging
  • OA Drizzle
  • OA Long Release (shop towel application)
  • Apiguard
  • Formic Acid
  • Drone Brood Culling
  • Brood Break
  • Thymol (in various application methods)
  • Screened bottom boards

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: http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-shop-towel-updates/

Sources:

Honeybee Health Coalition:  https://honeybeehealthcoalition.org/varroa/

Randy Oliver – Scientific Beekeeping – http://scientificbeekeeping.com/extended-release-oxalic-acid-progress-report-3/

Dave Cushman – http://www.dave-cushman.net/bee/varroatreatment.html

Photo from: https://geneticliteracyproject.org/2017/08/09/central-bee-health-threat-varroa-mite-parasite-may-manageable-using-oregano-oil/

 

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