For thousands of years, the science of beekeeping has presented challenges to that special breed of people who have a passion for working with bees. Taking too much honey during extraction season may starve your bees over winter. Working roughly with your bees can accidentally squish the hive’s queen. There has been one change in the bee world that started to become prevalent in the 1980s and in our well-researched opinion, ignoring this change and the hazards it presents is the worst mistake a modern Beekeeper can make: varroa mites.

In 2015, the Pacific Northwest experienced a very warm and dry spring and summer leading to increased varroa mite loads. With the warm weather we are experiencing already in 2016, we are expecting another year with a longer brood cycle leading to increased levels of mites.

We recommend treating for varroa mites at least twice per year. Treat once in the spring and treat again in the fall. While many beekeepers have their preference of treatments, we have successfully used Mite-Away® Quick Strips in the spring and Thymol based products in the fall. Mite-Away is the only treatment that works under the capped cells to kill mites under the capped brood. The temperature range for using Mite-Away is lower than the Thymol products, making it an effective spring treatment when night temperatures are still low.

Regardless of the mite treatment that you choose, you’ll need to start medicating before the honey supers are placed on your hive. Medications differ in treatment period — anywhere from one week to 28 days. Be sure to plan your treatments early enough in the spring to avoid tainting the honey supers.

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, these mites will multiply rapidly as the hive grows through the nectar flow season and will overwhelm your hive in the fall.

Please Note: Bees drift from hive to hive, so be a good neighbor and treat for mites early and often.

The sad truth is that we receive too many calls from beekeepers asking why their apparently strong hives are suddenly empty. People assume that the bees have absconded, but this is fairly rare. Most likely (95% of the time) these previously strong hives have fallen to varroa mites. When the bees fly away to die, you’re left with an empty hive in just several short weeks. Don’t let this happen to you.

As beekeepers we all want what is best for our bees. GloryBee strongly feels that not treating for varroa mites is the worst mistake a beekeeper can make. Treating for mites gives your bees the best opportunity to stay healthy and keep reproducing year after year.

Want to learn more? Please see the article by Bee Research Expert Ramesh Sagili from the Honey Bee Lab at Oregon State University for an overview of the varroa mite issue.