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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


The Varroa Problem: Part 15

First published in: American Bee Journal, February 2018

Modeling The Effect of Mite Treatments Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Contents Early-Season Mite Management Mid-Season Mite Management Late-Summer Mite Management A Day-By-Day Model The Basics of Oxalic Vaporization The Optimal Interval for OA Vaporization Treatments Fall-Winter Mite Management Acknowledgements Notes and Citations We beekeepers are nearly blind as to varroa. Yes, we see the occasional mite […]

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Extended-Release Oxalic Acid Progress Report #3

First published in: American Bee Journal, January 2018

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com As the synthetic miticides predictably lose their effectiveness across the world, beekeepers are turning more and more toward oxalic acid to control varroa. Unfortunately, oxalic is not a very efficacious treatment when there is brood present. To that end I am collaborating with USDA-ARS to petition EPA to add an extended-release application […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 14

First published in: American Bee Journal, January 2018

Virus Dynamics and Treatments Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Contents The Problem With Waiting Too Late To Treat Virus Dynamics and Miticides The Question of Timing The Proportion of Mites That Are In the Brood Efficacy of Treatments The Problem With the Bombs Coming Next Acknowledgements Notes and Citations The Problem With Waiting Too Late to Treat […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 13

First published in: American Bee Journal, December 2017

Using The Mite Model Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com It’s been nearly 25 years since I saw the first varroa mite in one of my hives, and it’s been a wild ride since then. Not only for our bees, but also for the business of beekeeping, in which we’ve been forced to adapt and evolve. As my […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 12

First published in: American Bee Journal, November 2017

Building a Model Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com In my last article, I showed the basic math of varroa buildup during the period of broodrearing, and the subsequent decline of the mite population when no broodrearing was taking place. My simple graphs were illustrative of the concept, but in order to understand the details, I needed to […]

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Extended-Release Oxalic Acid Progress Report #2

First published in: American Bee Journal, October 2017

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com There has been a huge amount of interest in the extended-release application of oxalic acid for controlling varroa. I and my collaborators have been working hard to collect the data necessary get this treatment approved for use by U.S. beekeepers. We’ve still got lots to learn, but here’s an update. Disclaimer and […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 11

First published in: American Bee Journal, October 2017

The Math of the Mite Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com I’ve previously written about how the seasonal buildup and decline of the honey bee colony is a function of the birth and death rates of the workers [1]. Varroa follows a similar buildup and decline pattern in its host colony (although those who keep bees where winters […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 10

First published in: American Bee Journal, September 2017 - this version updated

Smokin’-Hot Mite Washin’ Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com      If you had asked me even a month ago as to how many of your hives to sample for varroa, I’d have suggested using Katie Lee’s plan of 8 hives per apiary [1] (in truth, we’ve rarely sampled even that many). And I would have definitely said that […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 9

First published in: American Bee Journal, August 2017

Knowing Thine Enemy Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles”– Sun Tzu. We are all beekeepers; we are also all varroa keepers (some of us better at the latter than the former). Varroa is the enemy of both bees and beekeepers. […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 8

First published in: American Bee Journal, June 2017

Regulatory Cascades, Varroa Tolerance, and a Moon Shot Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com In writing this series, I skipped ahead over some details so that I could publish my suggestions for setting up a breeding program for mite resistance in time for this season’s queen rearing. I now return to pick up some of the pieces. Do […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 7

First published in: American Bee Journal, May 2017

Walking The Walk Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com I’m not one to tell any beekeeper what they “should” be doing—it’s up to nature, the market, personal preference, and history to determine what works. In my last two articles, I’ve discussed ways to go about breeding for mite resistance. Now it’s time for me to walk the walk. […]

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Extended-Release Oxalic Acid Progress Report

First published in: American Bee Journal, July 2017

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com In January I wrote about an exciting extended-release application method for oxalic acid [1]. I’m currently collaborating with the USDA Agricultural Research Service and the EPA to get this application method added to the current label for oxalic acid. In the interest of full transparency (and to show how I’ve been putting […]

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The Varroa Problem – Part 6B

First published in: American Bee Journal, April 2017

Small-Scale Breeding Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS Let’s Work Together For The Hobbyist: Be Part of the Solution Work Cooperatively Responsible Beekeeping Mite Bombs and Drift of Mites Wrap Up Notes and Citations I’m fully aware that the vast majority of beekeepers fall into the recreational or sideline categories. Encouragingly, it is those non-professional beekeepers that […]

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A Test of Using CO2 for Bee-Friendly Mite Monitoring

First published in: American Bee Journal, April 2017

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Beekeepers who monitor the varroa level in their hives tend to be more successful at keeping their colonies alive and healthy. But no one likes having to sacrifice bees to take mite counts. So when I heard of using CO2 to temporarily anesthetize the bees in a mite shaker I was intrigued. […]

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The Varroa Problem – Part 6a

First published in: American Bee Journal, March 2017

Bee Breeding For Dummies Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS It’s Been Thirty Painful Years Breeding is Merely Human-Directed Evolution Bees Are Still Pretty Wild Natural and Artificial Selection Assessment Methods The Bond Method (You Get What You Wind Up With) The Bond Method, But Without The Needless Carnage Getting Down To The Nitty Gritty Define The […]

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