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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


Extended-Release Oxalic Acid Progress Report

First published in: American Bee Journal, November 2018

2018 California Field Trial Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS Questions Yet to Answer on Extended-Release Oxalic Experimental Design of the Summer Trial The Test Colonies The Treatments Field Log Results Analysis of the Data Midpoint Results Endpoint Results Dealing With the Danged Outliers Graphs are Easier to Visualize Than Tables Discussion Comparison to Oxalic Vaporization (Sublimation) […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 17c

First published in: American Bee Journal, September 2018

Being Part of the Solution Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS Defining Our Objectives Live and Let Die “Bond Method” “Natural” Beekeeping The Mutualistic Symbiosis Between the Bee and Humans Recreational Beekeeping “Treatment Free” Beekeepers Eliminating the Fitness Benefit to the Varroa/DWV Complex Gained By Killing its Host Hive Darwinian Beekeeping The Dream of a “Gentler” Mite […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 17b

First published in: American Bee Journal, August 2018

The Evolution of Bees, Mites, and DWV Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS A Primer On The Drivers of Evolution Defining the Niche The Breeding Population The Honey Bee Population in the U.S. Reproduction and Dispersal Acknowledgements Notes and Citations My hope is to clarify exactly how various beekeeping practices affect the evolutionary pressure on the genomes […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 17a

First published in: American Bee Journal, July 2018

Treatment Free Beekeeping and Being Part of The Solution rather than part of The Problem Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS Being Part of The Solution Rather Than Part of The Problem Assigning The Blame Let’s First Get Some Facts Straight Our Part in Creating the Monster Understanding Bee, Varroa, Virus & Beekeeping Coevolution It’s All About […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 16b

First published in: American Bee Journal, May 2018

Bee Drift and Mite Dispersal (continued) Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS Bee Drift and Mite Dispersal (continued) So Why Do Colonies Allow Bees to Drift In? The Sheer Numbers Involved The Amount of Mite Drift Into Other Hives Collapse and Robbing What Happens to All the Mite-Infested Bees When a Colony Collapses? Swarms Coming Back to […]

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The Varroa Problem: Part 16a

First published in: American Bee Journal, April 2018

Bee Drift and Mite Dispersal Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS Bee Drift and Mite Dispersal Dispersal of Varroa Phoresy, Grooming, and Host Preference by the Mites The Shifting of Varroa’s Preferred Transport Our Unnaturally Close Placement of Hives in Apiaries Measured Rates of Hive-to-Hive Worker and Drone Drift The Diffusion of Mites Are Some Hives More […]

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Selective Breeding for Mite Resistance: 1000 hives, 100 hours

First published in: American Bee Journal, March 2018

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com CONTENTS Quick Summary First Assessment – Early July Breeder Disappointment Second Through Fourth Assessments The Final Tally The Cost of the Selective Breeding Program What’s Next Control of Matings Analysis of the Late-Season Failure to Maintain Low Mite Levels Could the Spikes Have Come From Mite Reproduction? Am I Selecting For Bees […]

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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

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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