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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 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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Other resources on varroa management

There are a number of other resources for reliable information on varroa management, some of which I’ll include links for: The Honey Bee Health Coalition released this summary of mite management tools in 2015.  Free download at Tools for Varroa Management Share:

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Oxalic acid Powerpoint presentation

Updated 15 January 2016   Updated oxalic acid ppt presentation Since the EPA registered oxalic acid for the use in beehives (as far as I know, Brushy Mountain has the only registered product to date), I’ve been flooded with questions about using it (since I’ve used it steadily in my operation for over a decade). Therefore, […]

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Mite Washer; Still Improving

First published in: American Bee Journal, August 2015

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com The quickest and most accurate way to monitor varroa levels is by the alcohol wash. After the publication of my “improved” washer design, I’ve gotten some great suggestions from readers. Unless you monitor for varroa, you have no idea as to what the actual infestation rate is. I’ve tried all the methods […]

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No Negative Effect From Extended Exposure To Amitraz

First published in: American Bee Journal, July 2015

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Why are we hearing of elevated rates of queen loss and poor survivability of colonies these days? Could it have anything to do with sublethal effects of the commonly used miticide amitraz? Introduction Last spring I ran a field trial in order to determine whether treating nucs with Apivar (active ingredient amitraz) […]

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Messin’ With Varroa 2014

First published in: American Bee Journal January 2015

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Some years we’re in the business of raising bees; in others we seem to merely be raising food for the varroa mite. When I returned in late November from speaking on the subject of mite management at several conferences, to my dismay I found out that I hadn’t practiced what I preached. […]

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A Test of Hopguard II As A Late-Summer Mite Treatment

First published in: ABJ December 2014

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Introduction This summer my sons and I struggled with varroa in our operation; seems that we should have focused on mite control a couple of weeks earlier than usual. I kicked myself for allowing the mite to get a jump on us. But it seems that we were not the only ones—I’m […]

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Simulation of sugar dusting against varroa

Knowing the intrinsic rate of reproduction of the honey bee colony and of varroa, the proportion of mites that are phoretic at the time, and the efficacy of a powdered sugar dusting at removing those phoretic mites, one can create a spreadsheet that will calculate the estimated effect of repeated sugar dustings. I’ve done so, […]

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Oxalic Acid Dribble and Sublimation Updates

Update 20 Sept 2017  There are YouTubes being circulated recommending using a heat fogger to apply oxalic acid.  Retired chemist Dick Cryberg, who is a very sharp guy whose observations I deeply respect, posted the following to Bee-L: I tried fogging with 10% oxalic acid dissolved in water.  I fogged ten five over five deep […]

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An Improved, But Not Yet Perfect, Varroa Mite Washer

First published in: American Bee Association Oct 2013

Randy Oliver ScientificBeekeeping.com Updated 29 June 2017 I keep looking for a quick, easy, and accurate way to monitor mite infestation rates.  I’ve happily used the mite shaker bottle for some years, but it has its shortcomings.  I’d like to ask my readers to help me improve the design. As I detailed in the July […]

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Does Oxalic Acid Treatment of Nucs Affect Honey Production?

First published in: American Bee Journal, December 2013

BEEKEEPER-FUNDED RESEARCH Randy OliverScientificBeekeeping.com Last year I ran two trials to see whether I could take advantage of the brief window of opportunity which occurs 19 days after starting nucs with queen cells, during which the mites are forced out of the brood.  I detailed the theory, timing, and procedure in a previous article [1].  […]

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Simple Early Treatment of Nucs Against Varroa

First published in: American Bee Journal, April 2013

Randy OliverScientificBeekeeping.com Starting the season with a low level of varroa allows a colony to get a jump on the mite and its associated viruses.  I tested a simple method for incorporating varroa management into nuc production. Introduction When I try to understand something about beekeeping, I seek out examples from the extreme ends of […]

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