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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 4 – Comparing the Release Agents

Refining the Mite Wash : Part 4 Comparing the Release Agents Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com First Published in ABJ in October 2020 As I tested different release agents for varroa monitoring, I was often surprised by the results, which then raised new questions about why some worked better than others. So I ran a number of […]

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Refining the Mite Wash: Part 2 – Mite Release

Refining the Mite Wash- Part 2 Mite Release Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com First Published in ABJ in August 2020 The high efficacy of hand dishwashing detergent at getting mites to release their grip on bees bestirred me to investigate this finding more deeply.  What I’ve come to realize is that there are four steps involved between […]

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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 – What About Letting the Shook Bees Fly Off?

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 – How Does Mite Distribution Vary Frame-to-Frame in a Hive?

   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 – Questions on Sampling Hives for Varroa

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 – Methods

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 #5 – 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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Selective Breeding for Mite Resistance: Walking the Walk

Contents Selective breeding for mite resistance. 4 The 2018 season. 4 A visit to France. 12 My spring surprise. 13 Selection vs. Bottlenecking. 16 Choosing the breeders. 17 The big question ― heritability. 18 The importance of the drone pool 19 A Primer on Bee Genetics. 19 Bottom line. 21 Acknowledgements. 22 References. 22   […]

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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 – Ways that Bees Can Manage the Mite

Guessing the 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 the Future with Varroa: Part 1

Guessing the Future with Varroa Part 1 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 […]

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Extended-Release Oxalic Acid Progress Report #4 – 2018 California Field Trial

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 – Being Part of the Solution

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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