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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


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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Oxalic Acid Treatment Table

Table reworked and updated January 3, 2017. You can download a printable pdf doc of the table at: 2017-oxalic-acid-treatment-table  It is critical to mix and apply oxalic dribble correctly (5 mL between each frame of bees), or you risk seriously harming your bees!  Be sure to read: http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-acid-questions-answers-and-more-questions-part-1-of-2-parts/ http://scientificbeekeeping.com/the-learning-curve-part-3-the-natural-miticides/ http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-dribble-tips/ http://scientificbeekeeping.com/oxalic-acid-powerpoint-presentation/   *Distilled water may […]

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An Early Summer Test of Mite-Away-Quick Strips(tm)

Randy Oliver In the February issue of this Journal, I wrote about a fall trial that I performed with the new formic acid delivery method—Mite-Away Quick Strips (MAQSTM).  I had been impressed by their efficacy and ease of use.  Imagine my surprise and dismay when I received a couple of phone calls from beekeepers in […]

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Sick Bees – Part 12: Varroa Management – Getting Down to Brass Tacks

Randy Oliver Last month I showed how to make a mite shaker bottle, so that you could easily keep track of the actual mite levels in your hives.  So now you may wonder, how do I use those mite counts to better manage my hives? I was recently speaking in New Zealand, where the beekeepers […]

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Sick Bees – Part 11: Mite Monitoring Methods

First published in: ABJ June 2011

Randy Oliver Last month I was presumptuous enough to try to boil successful beekeeping down to four basic rules. Giving the bees a dry home with plenty of honey is pretty obvious, so I’m going to make the other three easy to remember. Think of them as the “Three P’s”—Protein, Parasites, and Pesticides (including miticide […]

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Managing Varoa: Part 1 – IPM Realities

First published in: American Bee Journal, March 2011

I welcome practical, tested tips, methods, and assessments from other beekeepers who are successfully keeping bees with varroa.  I found this article to be a good reality check on certain varroa IPM methods.  It was originally published in the March 2011 ABJ, and I asked the author if I could post it to this website.  […]

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IPM 6 The Arsenal: Our Choice of Chemical Weapons

I’m clearly in the “minimal chemical” camp, yet all my commercial buddies, without exception, depend upon “off label” use of agricultural miticides to keep their colonies alive. These are top-notch beekeepers, and I greatly respect them, learn from them, and have no problems with their methods. The reality is, they would all likely have gone […]

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IPM 7 The Arsenal: “Natural” Treatments – Part 2

Tenth in a series on integrated pest management of varroa © Randy Oliver 2007 randyoliver.com Let me tell you, researching and writing this series has been an education for me! Several of my preconceived notions have been stood on their heads. One treatment—powdered sugar—that I had dismissed as impractical, turns out to be surprisingly effective. […]

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IPM 7 The Arsenal: “Natural” Treatments – Part 1

Ninth in a series on integrated pest management of varroa Disclaimer: I am not licensed to make any pesticide recommendation. I am merely reporting on information from appropriate authorities. You should consult your local authority for recommendations. Update: please not that there are numerous updates on these methods in subsequent articles on this website. What […]

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IPM 5.5 Fighting Varroa 5.5: Biotechnical Tactics II

Introduction 1 Drone Brood Management and Trap Combs 1 Powdered sugar dusting 4 The Oliver 15-second sugar dust method 6 Discussion 7 The one-two punch—30 seconds to knock out varroa! 7 My new website 8 References 8 Tactics: Biotechnical Methods II–The one-two punch Sixth in a series on Integrated Pest Management of varroa Note: this […]

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IPM 5 Fighting Varroa 5: Biotechnical Tactics I

(Photos to be added – check back) Fifth in a series on Integrated Pest Management of varroa In the “silver bullet” model, any mite kill less than 95% was considered ineffective. Unfortunately, the days of that kill rate are fading for most synthetic chemicals. It would be wise for beekeepers to consider an alternate model […]

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IPM 4 Fighting Varroa4: Reconnaissance Mite sampling methods and thresholds

© Randy Oliver 2006 Three strategies I’ve found that always fail when battling varroa are: 1. Denial—“I haven’t seen any mites, so my mite levels must be low.” 2. Wishful thinking—“I haven’t seen very many mites, so I’m hoping and praying that my bees will be OK.” 3. Blind faith—“I used the latest snake oil […]

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IPM 3 Fighting Varroa 3: Strategy – Understanding Varroa Population Dynamics

Fighting Varroa: Continued Strategy © Randy Oliver 2006 Joe Beekeeper typically has a gnawing feeling in his gut that the ways he’s been dealing with the varroa mite are starting to fail. I heard a complaint at a recent convention: “How long can we continue in a business where 30% of our assets die each […]

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IPM 2 Fighting Varroa 2: Choosing your Troops: Breeding Mite-Fighting Bees

Second in a series on Integrated Pest Management of varroa Originally published in ABJ, Jan. 2007 I got tired of getting my butt kicked by varroa. My first step in getting the upper hand on the mite was to forswear the coddling of wimpy bees with synthetic chemicals. This decision cost me dearly as colonies […]

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