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Suggested protocol to determine amount of mite immigration


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Suggested protocol to determine amount of mite immigration

Randy Oliver 8 February 2018

The methodology for quantifying the number of mites invading a hive per time period is relatively straightforward:

  1. At least six weeks in advance (I suggest mid May), choose one or more strong, healthy hives to monitor.  In order to avoid inadvertently selecting colonies that may have some sort of resistance to invasion, it may be best to start with colonies that exhibit “normal” mite counts.
  2. Apply a highly effective time-release miticide treatment to eliminate all the mites from the hive.  Due to the possibility of resistance, it may be necessary to simultaneously apply two miticides with different modes of action, checking to ensure that they don’t disrupt the broodnest to any extent.  You could start with an oxalic or formic treatment for quick knock down, then apply one or more time-release synthetic miticides (e.g., Apistan®, Checkmite II®, or Apivar®) at the full label rate.
  3. Monitor the mite drop with stickyboards until it drops to zero per day (and you feel confident that there are no mites left in the hive).  This should occur by the first of July—the most reasonable time to start your counts.  At this time, replace the miticide strips with fresh ones.
  4. From this point on, keep a stickyboard in the hive continuously, rotating them to take regular mite counts (typically every 48 hours to avoid accumulation of hive trash).  Since there were no mites left in the hive, any mites on the stickyboards must have been carried in from outside.  Record this data by day and mite count.  For consistency, plan on taking an end-of-week count on the same day every week, and then total and record the counts for that week.
  5. Continue these counts until colonies go dormant from the cold (winter data would be of interest from where bees fly all year).  Then please send me the data and I’ll compile it in an article.

Protocol to detect a correlation between mite immigration with robbing:

Limitation: must be performed in an area without late-summer nectar flows.

  1. In a yard, set up a number of hives having very low mite levels for monitoring (so that they will not need treatment during the course of the experiment). Place the hives either on scales, or so as to allow easy weighing.   In areas in which it may rain, wooden hives would need a rainproof cover above them to prevent them from absorbing rainwater, which would temporarily add to hive weight.
  2. (Optional) Set one or more high-mite, honey-heavy colonies that you expect to collapse in or near the same yard. Or, restrict the apiary to only the monitored hives, thereby measuring only mite immigration from outside of the apiary.
  3. Take weekly alcohol wash counts (see note) and weights of the monitored hives.
  4. Look for correlation between weight gain (as an indicator of robbing) to the degree of increase in the mite counts.

Note: the two experiments could be combined (mite elimination, sticky boards, and weighing), but dispense with the alcohol washes if you wish.  The stickyboard count data for mite immigration could then be plotted against weight gain.  In either case, please collaborate with me at randy@randyoliver.com for data sheets and the write up of the results.

Category: Research Updates

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