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

The Learning Curve – Part 4: The Synthetic Miticides

Randy Oliver Paradise Lost The overall impact of the varroa mite upon beekeeping was recently brought home when I spent time with beekeepers on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Until recently, these lucky beekeepers enjoyed a true beekeeping paradise—abundant nectar and pollen flows, minimal agricultural pesticides, and best of all, no loathsome varroa or tracheal […]

Read More

Powdered sugar dusting – sweet and safe, but does it really work? Part 2

By Randy Oliver One beauty of science is that it is anti-authoritarian. Physicist Lawrence Krauss put it well: “There are no scientific authorities. There are scientific experts, but there should be no authority figures whose statements are not subject to question by anyone….One of the greatest experiences scientists, indeed anyone, can have is to have […]

Read More

The Learning Curve – Part 3: The Natural Miticides

I added a number of updates on May 2015, marking 15 years of successful commercial beekeeping in my operation without the use of synthetic miticides. Randy Oliver “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change”—Charles Darwin. […]

Read More

Powdered sugar dusting – sweet and safe, but does it really work? Part 1

By Randy Oliver The dusting of colonies with powdered sugar as a means of varroa control has become quite popular with hobbyists. Unfortunately, there is precious little published data in support of its actual efficacy in the field. So we here at Still-on-the-Learning-Curve Apiaries decided to put it to the test. Author’s note: My readers […]

Read More

Trial of HoneySuperCell® Small Cell Combs

Randy Oliver Introduction There has been considerable discussion as to whether “small cell” foundation (4.9mm diameter vs. the industry “standard” of approximately 5.4mm) has potential as a means of controlling varroa reproduction.  Research on Africanized bees in South America indicates that small cell size may reduce mite reproduction, yet data from South Africa and Europe […]

Read More

Miticides 2011

First published in: American Bee Journal February 2011

Colony health and production these days is largely a function of varroa levels in the hives—the more mites, the more problems. It is no longer a matter of simply knocking the mites back once a year with a “silver bullet”—it is becoming increasingly clear that mite levels must be kept low all season. Here is […]

Read More