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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 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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The Varroa Problem: Part 5

First published in: American Bee Journal, February 2017

Striking a Deal With Varroa Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS Selective Breeding There’s No Free Lunch The Good News What Needs To Change Striking a Deal With Varroa Other Mechanisms and Traits Progress Can Be Fast Knowing Your Enemy The Strategy For Subduing Varroa The Bees’ Tactics Using Models Wrap Up Acknowledgements Notes and Citations Look, […]

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Beyond Taktic®

First published in: American Bee Journal, January 2017

Beekeeper-Funded Research Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com The miticide Taktic has been the savior of the commercial bee industry since the early 2000s. But it may be time to move on. I’ve been experimenting with a promising potential replacement. Our Situation As I recently pointed out, there are signs that mites in areas of the U.S. are […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 4

First published in: American Bee Journal, January 2017

Mite-Resistant Bees – Pipedream or Plausible? Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com I imagine that some readers may be thinking, “Randy lives in cannabis country with the rest of the fruits and nuts in California—what’s he been putting into his smoker?” And I’m glad to hear that, since smart minds exhibit a healthy degree of skepticism for any […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 3

First published in: American Bee Journal, December 2016

A Creation of Our Own Doing Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com The Varroa Problem didn’t just happen—we created it, and we unintentionally perpetuate it. And we will continue to prolong the agony until we, as a community, finally say “Enough!” and start to work together to solve it. Routes Of Transmission In order for a parasite species […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 2

First published in: American Bee Journal, December 2016

The Coevolution of the Bee, Varroa, and DWV Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com In order to solve The Varroa Problem, we need to understand the biology of how it was created, and what perpetuates it. A Time To Work Together I’m a strong proponent of using regionally-adapted bee stock, bred for resistance to the varroa/virus complex. My […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 1

First published in: American Bee Journal, November 2016

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Legend has it that King Sisyphus was condemned to the maddening task of being forced each day to roll a huge boulder to the top of a hill, only to watch it roll back down again, and then to repeat this for eternity. Sisyphus was being punished for having the hubris to […]

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A Test of Late-Summer Varroa Treatments

First published in: American Bee Journal, June 2016

Last summer, deep in extended drought, we California beekeepers struggled with varroa. And I realized that I had long been using (and recommending) a mite treatment application based upon hearsay rather than actual data—shame on me! By trial and error, I’ve come up with a colony management program that produces strong colonies for almonds (despite […]

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