Protect your hive from Varroa Mite infestations
Posted on August 1, 2018.
Protecting your hive from Varroa Mite infestations is one of the most critical functions of a beekeeper in regard to bee health. We recommend treating for varroa mites at least twice per year, in the spring before you add honey supers and, in the fall, after they are removed. Medications differ in treatment period anywhere from one week to 28 days, so you will need to treat early enough in Spring to avoid tainting the honey supers.
It is important to also monitor the presence of mites in your hive. Even if you think you do not have varroa mites in your hive they are there and are weakening your bees. If left untreated in spring they will multiply rapidly as the hive grows through the nectar flow season and will overwhelm your hive in the fall. Bees drift from hive to hive so be a good neighbor and treat for mites early and often! In general, the economic threshold for mite intensity is 3-5%. There are several methods of checking for mites including a sticky board, sugar roll and alcohol wash- you can learn more about them here.
We receive many calls from local beekeepers asking why their apparently strong hives are suddenly empty. It is often assumed that the bees have absconded, but this is fairly rare. More likely these previously strong hives are weakened by varroa mites and then finally overwhelmed by the number of mites in the fall and when the bees fly away from the hive to die and you have an empty hive in several short weeks.