Topics, Treatments For Varroa, Varroa Management


Miticides 2011

First published in: American Bee Journal February 2011

Colony health and production these days is largely a function of varroa levels in the hives—the more mites, the more problems. It is no longer a matter of simply knocking the mites back once a year with a “silver bullet”—it is becoming increasingly clear that mite levels must be kept low all season. Here is […]

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Trial of HoneySuperCell® Small Cell Combs

Randy Oliver Introduction There has been considerable discussion as to whether “small cell” foundation (4.9mm diameter vs. the industry “standard” of approximately 5.4mm) has potential as a means of controlling varroa reproduction.  Research on Africanized bees in South America indicates that small cell size may reduce mite reproduction, yet data from South Africa and Europe […]

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Powdered sugar dusting – sweet and safe, but does it really work? Part 1

By Randy Oliver The dusting of colonies with powdered sugar as a means of varroa control has become quite popular with hobbyists. Unfortunately, there is precious little published data in support of its actual efficacy in the field. So we here at Still-on-the-Learning-Curve Apiaries decided to put it to the test. Author’s note: My readers […]

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The Learning Curve – Part 3: The Natural Miticides

Randy Oliver “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”—Charles Darwin. And changes have been the name of the game lately. The varroa mite has clearly demonstrated its adaptability to change—now it’s time for beekeepers to […]

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Powdered sugar dusting – sweet and safe, but does it really work? Part 2

By Randy Oliver One beauty of science is that it is anti-authoritarian. Physicist Lawrence Krauss put it well: “There are no scientific authorities. There are scientific experts, but there should be no authority figures whose statements are not subject to question by anyone….One of the greatest experiences scientists, indeed anyone, can have is to have […]

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The Learning Curve – Part 4: The Synthetic Miticides

Randy Oliver Paradise Lost The overall impact of the varroa mite upon beekeeping was recently brought home when I spent time with beekeepers on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Until recently, these lucky beekeepers enjoyed a true beekeeping paradise—abundant nectar and pollen flows, minimal agricultural pesticides, and best of all, no loathsome varroa or tracheal […]

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The Learning Curve – Part 5: The Future

Randy Oliver “I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.” – George Burns Miticides in Development There are a number of new varroacides currently in development by various parties—some fairly close to release. Some are synthetics; some are naturally derived, such as propolis or plant extracts, […]

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Powdered sugar dusting – sweet and safe, but does it really work? Part 3

By Randy Oliver Scientific inquiry can be exciting yet exasperating, satisfying yet frustrating! On these pages I share my own voyage of discovery, and enjoy the liberty of avoiding scientific formality. If one were to only read published papers, one might think that every experiment worked the first try, successfully answered a question, or made […]

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The Learning Curve – Part 1: 2009 Progress Report

Randy Oliver Physicist Neils Bohr once quipped, “An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.” This definition clearly excludes me from being any sort of expert, since I exuberantly continue to make new mistakes in my own beekeeping adventures. It appears unlikely that, […]

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The Learning Curve – Part 2: Killing Mites without Killing Your Bees

Randy Oliver “U.S. beekeepers crossed the Rubicon of pesticide application when Varroa mites were introduced in the late 1980s. They literally “tore down the fence,” as one wag put it, quickly transforming themselves from anti-pesticide fundamentalists into willing pesticide applicators.”—Dr. Malcolm Sanford (2008). Those of us who remember the arrival of varroa, and the devastation […]

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Oxalic Acid: Questions, Answers, and More Questions: Part 1 of 2 Parts

©Randy Oliver 2006 Why Oxalic Acid? European beekeepers, who have dealt with varroa much longer than we have, and who often face regulations that do not look favorably upon chemicals that may contaminate honey, noted that varroa is susceptible to organic acids–such as formic (in ants), acetic (vinegar), lactic (milk acid), citric (citrus fruits), and […]

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IPM 1 Fighting Varroa 1: The Silver Bullet, or Brass Knuckles?

© Randy Oliver 2006, 2009 The varroa mite is the toughest challenge ever faced by American beekeepers. Our reaction to it reminds me of the five stages of dealing with trauma (greatly paraphrased from Kubler-Ross 1997): Stage 1: Denial (this isn’t happening to me! There can’t be mites on my bees.) Stage 2: Anger (You […]

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Oxalic Acid: Heat Vaporization and Other Methods: Part 2 of 2 Parts

Originally published ABJ Jan 2007 In my article last month, I detailed the use of the oxalic acid sugar syrup “dribble” for varroa control, with the consensus opinion being that the dribble method was both highly effective at killing mites in broodless colonies, as well as being safe for the beekeeper to handle. I’ve added […]

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IPM 2 Fighting Varroa 2: Choosing your Troops: Breeding Mite-Fighting Bees

Second in a series on Integrated Pest Management of varroa Originally published in ABJ, Jan. 2007 I got tired of getting my butt kicked by varroa. My first step in getting the upper hand on the mite was to forswear the coddling of wimpy bees with synthetic chemicals. This decision cost me dearly as colonies […]

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IPM 3 Fighting Varroa 3: Strategy – Understanding Varroa Population Dynamics

Fighting Varroa: Continued Strategy © Randy Oliver 2006 Joe Beekeeper typically has a gnawing feeling in his gut that the ways he’s been dealing with the varroa mite are starting to fail. I heard a complaint at a recent convention: “How long can we continue in a business where 30% of our assets die each […]

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