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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


Mite Drift Quantification

Mite Drift Quantification: A Citizen Science Project Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com First Published in ABJ, April 2019   There’s been a lot of discussion on “mite bombs” and the drifting of bees and mites from hive to hive. But there’s been surprisingly little research to measure exactly how many mites actually do manage to successfully catch […]

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Guessing the Future of Varroa Part 2

Guessing our Future with Varroa, Part 2 Ways that Bees Can Manage the Mite Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com First published in ABJ in January, 2019       I suspect that our problems with varroa—at least for commercial beekeepers—may get worse before they get better.  But I’d be willing to bet that eventually, we’ll all be keeping bees […]

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Guessing our future with varroa

Guessing our Future with Varroa Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com First published in ABJ December 2018       The Greek philosopher Heraclitus maintained that there is nothing permanent except change.  This certainly applies to biology and the business of beekeeping, both of which are always in some state of evolution.  However, beekeeping in the U.S. was unusual in that it […]

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Extended-Release Oxalic Acid Progress Report

First published in: American Bee Journal, November 2018

Extended-Release Oxalic Acid Progress Report 2018 California Field Trial Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Published in ABJ in November 2018 I’ve handed my beekeeping operation, still headquartered at my home, over to my sons Eric and Ian, with the provision that I have the hives at my disposal for research during my “retirement.”  This season I was […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 17c

First published in: American Bee Journal, September 2018

Contents Defining our Objectives. 4 LIVE AND LET DIE “Bond Method.. 4 “NATURAL” Beekeeping.. 5 The Mutualistic Symbiosis Between the Bee and Humans. 6 Recreational Beekeeping. 7 “TREATMENT FREE” Beekeepers. 7 Eliminating the Fitness Benefit to the Varroa/DWV Complex Gained by Killing its host hive. 9 Darwinian Beekeeping. 9 The Dream of a “Gentler” Mite. […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 17b

First published in: American Bee Journal, August 2018

Contents A Primer on the Drivers of Evolution. 2 Defining the Niche. 2 The Breeding Population. 3 The Honey bee Populations in the U.S. 4 Reproduction and Dispersal 7 Acknowledgements. 9 Notes and Citations. 9     The Varroa Problem: Part 17b The Evolution of Bees, Mites, and DWV First Published in ABJ August 2018 […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 17a

First published in: American Bee Journal, July 2018

Contents Being part of The Solution rather than part of The Problem.. 1 Assigning the blame. 2 Let’s first get some facts straight. 3 Our part in creating the monster. 8 Understanding Bee, Varroa, Virus & Beekeeping Coevolution. 9 it’s all about successful dispersal and transmission. 10 Here’s how it works. 11 Next. 13 Acknowledgements. […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 16b-Bee Drift and Mite Dispersal (cont.)

First published in: American Bee Journal, May 2018

Contents Bee Drift and Mite Dispersal (continued) 1 So why do colonies allow bees to drift in?. 1 The sheer numbers involved. 4 The amount of mite drift into other hives. 5 Collapse and Robbing. 7 What happens to all the mite-infested bees when a colony collapses?. 8 Swarms coming back to bite you in […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 16a Bee Drift and Mite Dispersal

First published in: American Bee Journal, April 2018

Contents Bee Drift and Mite Dispersal 1 Dispersal of varroa. 2 Phoresy, grooming, and host preference by the mites. 3 The shifting of varroa’s preferred transport. 6 Our unnaturally close placement of hives in apiaries. 7 Measured rates of hive-to-hive worker and drone drift. 7 The Diffusion of Mites. 8 Are some hives more attractive […]

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Selective Breeding for Mite Resistance: 1000 hives, 100 hours

First published in: American Bee Journal, March 2018

Contents Quick summary. 1 First assessment—early July. 1 Breeder disappointment. 2 Second through fourth assessments. 3 The final tally. 3 The Cost of the selective breeding program.. 4 what’s next. 4 Control of matings. 5 Analysis of the late-season Failure to Maintain low mite levels. 5 Could the spikes have come from mite reproduction?. 11 […]

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How to perform an alcohol wash

If you prep correctly, it only takes a few minutes to determine the varroa infestation rate of a hive.  Here I show how to do it in under 4 minutes. View a video that my assistant Brooke Molina shot the other day with her cell phone:

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The Varroa Problem: Part 15- Modeling the Effect of Mite Treatments

First published in: American Bee Journal, February 2018

Contents Early-season mite management. 2 Mid-season mite management. 4 Late-summer mite management. 4 A day-by-day model 5 The basics of oxalic vaporization. 6 The optimal interval for OA vaporization treatments. 9 Fall-winter mite management. 13 Acknowledgements. 13 Notes and Citations. 14   The Varroa Problem: Part 15 Modeling the Effect of Mite Treatments Randy Oliver […]

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Extended-Release Oxalic Acid Progress Report #3

First published in: American Bee Journal, January 2018

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com First published in ABJ January 2018 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 […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 14

First published in: American Bee Journal, January 2018

Contents The problem with waiting too late to treat. 1 Virus dynamics and miticides. 3 The question of timing. 3 the proportion of mites that are in the brood. 5 Efficacy of treatments. 8 The problem with the bombs. 8 Coming next. 10 Acknowledgements. 10 Notes and Citations. 10     The Varroa Problem: Part […]

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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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