Varroa Mite Detection

How to determine the mite load of your colony.

There are many ways to determine the varroa mite load of your honeybee colony, and below are just a few. Experiment and decide which method works best for you, and do so regularly as part of the IPA (Integrated Pest Management) of your colonies.

Drone Brood Sampling: This is a quick and easy method. Using an uncapping fork, slide the forks on an angle into the cells, impaling the brood and then lift the fork out to inspect the brood. Mites will be visible on the light coloured bodies of the uncapped pupae. You may also see mites in the cells that you have just uncapped. If you have chickens…they will LOVE to clean up the drone brood when you are finished sampling… just sayin’.

Sugar Shake: How To

  1. Place an open wide-mouth mason jar in a wash tub or large bowl (so when you shake the bees into the jar, excess bees fall into the tub and not all over the ground to be stepped on)
  2. Select a frame with open brood and plenty of adult nurse bees (mites like fresh brood, so an open brood area is the optimal location to sample your bees from)
  3. Inspect the frame to make sure the queen is not on the frame
  4. Shake the frame over the wide-mouth mason jar to collect approximately 1/2 cup of bees
  5. Cover the jar with a lid that has been fitted with 1/8″ mesh
  6. Add a couple tablespoons of powdered sugar through the mesh
  7. Shake the jar gently for one minute to cover the bees in sugar
  8. Let the jar sit for approximately four minutes to allow time for mites to separate from the bees
  9. With the lid still on, invert the jar over a bowl of water and slowly rotate it so the sugar falls out through the mesh, and so too will the mites. The sugar will dissolve in the water, and the mites will float on top.
  10. Count your mites
  11. Release the bees back to the entrance of the hive. Their colony mates will greet them and happily clean the sugar from them.

Mite Board: a) Natural Mite Drop – a mite board is useful in determining the natural mite drop of your hive. Clean the board and examine in 24 hours.
mite load after you have applied the treatment of your choice. Mites will either be killed or stunned by the treatments and fall to the bottom of the hive onto the board, where you can then observe the numbers and determine if you have a problem or not.

What to do When You Discover Mites

So. You’ve found mites have you? There are a number of mite treatments and the one you choose varies by season and the varroa mite load of your colony. Click here to learn about the Oxcalic Acid vaporizing method. A non-chemical, easy way to treat your hive and control varroa mite load throughout the year.


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