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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


Refining the Mite Wash: Part 1 – Treatment Threshold and Solutions to Use

Refining the Mite Wash Part 1 Treatment Threshold and Solutions to Use Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com First published in ABJ July 2020 Once you’ve shaken a sample of bees, you then need to separate the mites from them.  There are various recommendations for using alcohol, detergent water, powdered sugar, ether, or CO2.  I’ve been using inexpensive […]

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Re-Evaluating Varroa Monitoring: Part 4

Re-Evaluating Varroa Monitoring Part 4 WHAT ABOUT LETTING THE SHOOK BEES FLY OFF? Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com First appeared in ABJ June 2020 In my previous article I showed how the varroa infestation rate of bees varied by comb type, with those on brood frames having higher mite counts, but those on storage frames, despite showing […]

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 Re-Evaluating Varroa Monitoring: Part 3

   Re-Evaluating Varroa Monitoring Part 3 HOW DOES MITE DISTRIBUTION VARY FRAME-TO-FRAME IN A HIVE? Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com First published in ABJ May 2020 In the previous articles in this series I evaluated the different methods for varroa monitoring, and then discussed the state of our knowledge as to where mites would be most prevalent […]

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Re-Evaluating Varroa Monitoring: Part 2

Re-Evaluating Varroa Monitoring Part 2 QUESTIONS ON SAMPLING HIVES FOR VARROA Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com First published in ABJ April 2020 In order to monitor the varroa infestation rate of the adult bees in a colony, one must take a sample of bees from somewhere in the hive. But how to decide which comb to take […]

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Re-Evaluating Varroa Monitoring: Part 1

Re-Evaluating Varroa Monitoring Part 1 METHODS Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com First published in ABJ March 2020 In order to avoid the preventable death of colonies due to varroa-virus overload, we’re told to monitor our colonies’ mite levels.  But how best to do so?  In this series of articles, I’ll review what we actually know, and provide […]

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Questions on Amitraz

Questions on Amitraz Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com First published in ABJ March 2020 This past year, some beekeepers asked me a couple of questions about amitraz. So I ran some quick cage trials to obtain answers. The results surprised me. Amitraz is a highly-effective acaricide (something that kills mites and ticks), and is widely used by […]

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Extended-Release Oxalic Acid Progress Report 2019

Contents Background. 2 The 2019 field test. 2 Results. 4 Those danged outliers!. 6 Overall efficacy. 7 Could there have been mite immigration from other colonies?. 8 Fate of the applied towels. 9 progression of action of treatment over time. 13 Results from others. 14 Mexico and uruguay. 14 Southeastern States with high humidity. 14 […]

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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 #4

First published in: American Bee Journal, November 2018

Extended-Release Oxalic Acid Progress Report #4 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 […]

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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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