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Varroa Management

Allow me to start with an excellent assessment by Bee Culture’s Phil Craft (BC July 2015):

Perhaps beekeepers who have come to the craft in the last few decades aren’t aware of the effect varroa had when it first arrived on this continent and of how it earned its full name, Varroa destructor. Whatever the reason, every year, beekeepers all over the country lose colonies to mites and the viruses of which they are carriers, and they never know what hit them. They blame pesticides,or CCD, or habitat loss, and sometimes those really are causes, or at least significant factors. However, too, too often, the underlying cause is a lack of effective management, which allows a mite infestation to overwhelm a colony or weaken it to the point that it succumbs easily to other stressors. The most frustrating thing about these losses is that they don’t have to happen.

Watch Dennis vanEngelsdorp explain why mite management is critical for colony survival, and which methods work or don’t at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bm3Y4t1NwQ

Other resources on varroa management

There are a number of other resources for reliable information on varroa management, some of which I’ll include links for: The Honey Bee Health Coalition released this summary of mite management tools in 2015.  Free download at Tools for Varroa Management Share:

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Oxalic acid Powerpoint presentation

Updated 15 January 2016   Updated oxalic acid ppt presentation Since the EPA registered oxalic acid for the use in beehives (as far as I know, Brushy Mountain has the only registered product to date), I’ve been flooded with questions about using it (since I’ve used it steadily in my operation for over a decade). Therefore, […]

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Mite Washer; Still Improving

First published in: American Bee Journal, August 2015

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com The quickest and most accurate way to monitor varroa levels is by the alcohol wash. After the publication of my “improved” washer design, I’ve gotten some great suggestions from readers. Unless you monitor for varroa, you have no idea as to what the actual infestation rate is. I’ve tried all the methods […]

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No Negative Effect From Extended Exposure To Amitraz

First published in: American Bee Journal, July 2015

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Why are we hearing of elevated rates of queen loss and poor survivability of colonies these days? Could it have anything to do with sublethal effects of the commonly used miticide amitraz? Introduction Last spring I ran a field trial in order to determine whether treating nucs with Apivar (active ingredient amitraz) […]

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Messin’ With Varroa 2014

First published in: American Bee Journal January 2015

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Some years we’re in the business of raising bees; in others we seem to merely be raising food for the varroa mite. When I returned in late November from speaking on the subject of mite management at several conferences, to my dismay I found out that I hadn’t practiced what I preached. […]

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A Test of Hopguard II As A Late-Summer Mite Treatment

First published in: ABJ December 2014

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Introduction This summer my sons and I struggled with varroa in our operation; seems that we should have focused on mite control a couple of weeks earlier than usual. I kicked myself for allowing the mite to get a jump on us. But it seems that we were not the only ones—I’m […]

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Simulation of sugar dusting against varroa

Knowing the intrinsic rate of reproduction of the honey bee colony and of varroa, the proportion of mites that are phoretic at the time, and the efficacy of a powdered sugar dusting at removing those phoretic mites, one can create a spreadsheet that will calculate the estimated effect of repeated sugar dustings. I’ve done so, […]

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Oxalic Acid Treatment Updates

Update 22 Dec 2016 Be sure to check my article in Jan ABJ on OA/glycerin.  I’ll try to post soon. In response to questions about adverse effects on queens: The evidence that I’ve seen to date indicate that vaporization does not have serious effects on the queen.  On the other hand, there are indications that […]

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An Improved, But Not Yet Perfect, Varroa Mite Washer

First published in: American Bee Association Oct 2013

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com I keep looking for a quick, easy, and accurate way to monitor mite infestation rates.  I’ve happily used the mite shaker bottle for some years, but it has its shortcomings.  I’d like to ask my readers to help me improve the design. As I detailed in the July issue, the shaker bottle […]

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Does Oxalic Acid Treatment of Nucs Affect Honey Production?

First published in: American Bee Journal, December 2013

BEEKEEPER-FUNDED RESEARCH Randy OliverScientificBeekeeping.com Last year I ran two trials to see whether I could take advantage of the brief window of opportunity which occurs 19 days after starting nucs with queen cells, during which the mites are forced out of the brood.  I detailed the theory, timing, and procedure in a previous article [1].  […]

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Simple Early Treatment of Nucs Against Varroa

First published in: American Bee Journal, April 2013

Randy OliverScientificBeekeeping.com Starting the season with a low level of varroa allows a colony to get a jump on the mite and its associated viruses.  I tested a simple method for incorporating varroa management into nuc production. Introduction When I try to understand something about beekeeping, I seek out examples from the extreme ends of […]

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Oxalic Acid Treatment Table

Table reworked and updated January 3, 2017. You can download a printable pdf doc of the table at: 2017-oxalic-acid-treatment-table  It is critical to mix and apply oxalic dribble correctly (5 mL between each frame of bees), or you risk seriously harming your bees!  Be sure to read: http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-acid-questions-answers-and-more-questions-part-1-of-2-parts/ http://scientificbeekeeping.com/the-learning-curve-part-3-the-natural-miticides/ http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-dribble-tips/ http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-acid-powerpoint-presentation/   *Distilled water may […]

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An Early Summer Test of Mite-Away-Quick Strips(tm)

Randy Oliver In the February issue of this Journal, I wrote about a fall trial that I performed with the new formic acid delivery method—Mite-Away Quick Strips (MAQSTM).  I had been impressed by their efficacy and ease of use.  Imagine my surprise and dismay when I received a couple of phone calls from beekeepers in […]

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Sick Bees – Part 12: Varroa Management – Getting Down to Brass Tacks

Randy Oliver Last month I showed how to make a mite shaker bottle, so that you could easily keep track of the actual mite levels in your hives.  So now you may wonder, how do I use those mite counts to better manage my hives? I was recently speaking in New Zealand, where the beekeepers […]

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Sick Bees – Part 11: Mite Monitoring Methods

First published in: ABJ June 2011

Randy Oliver Last month I was presumptuous enough to try to boil successful beekeeping down to four basic rules. Giving the bees a dry home with plenty of honey is pretty obvious, so I’m going to make the other three easy to remember. Think of them as the “Three P’s”—Protein, Parasites, and Pesticides (including miticide […]

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