If you’ve got bees, you’ve got Varroa mites. The only questions are how many, and how much harm are they doing to your bees? In the late summer and early fall, mite levels soar in relation to the shrinking number of bees. So, the mite levels are going up while the number of bees is going down – thus more mites are parasitizing fewer bees.

And at the same time your hive is raising their all-important, and physiologically different, winter bees. These bees need to live much longer than regular bees in order to bridge the colony through the winter broodless period and be alive to restart the brood build-up that will eventually be next season’s foragers. Unfortunately, the mites cause physical harm to honey bees and brood. They also pass on deadly diseases that will amplify the damage they cause and further shorten the life spans of the winter bees.

Getting the mite levels down as soon as you can at the end of the season is the key to protecting your hives.

Decisions about what to do are best made with up-to-date information about the size of the problem.

Three common ways to test for Varroa mites

  1. Use sticky boards to count the number of mites that fall out of the hive over a defined period of time. This method is non-invasive but is best done weekly all season to get a trend rather than relying on a single test. (read more)
  2. Do a sugar roll on a sample of nurse bees to assess the number of mites on bees working close to the brood. This method doesn’t kill the tested bees. (read more)
  3. Do an alcohol wash on a sample of nurse bees. This method is faster than a sugar roll, but the tested bees are killed. (read more)