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Monday, 3 August 2009

Putting in a Varroa screen

I had removed the bottom board of the new hive, leaving the hive with just the Open Mesh Floor between the bees and the open air.

It's a healthy thing to do, because they are then well ventilated, which cuts down disease. I particular, it allows varroa mites to fall through the mesh into the grass below, never to return. With a solid floor (like the other hives), the mite could crawl back up, and onto another bee.

In the photo below you can see that I have put two sheets of A4 white paper onto the bottom board, and I have smeared them both with Vaseline. This will glue the mites in place, when they fall, so that I can count the litle buggers.

The next photo is of the bottom board half pushed in.

My plan is to count the mites that fall off in one week, without treatment, and then treat the bees with icing sugar to make them groom, and repeat the count, to see if it is, indeed, an efficacious treatment.

The other treatments that I will use are Apiguard (a preparation of Thymol, a natural extract of, er, Thyme) and Oxalic acid (again, naturally occurring, in rhubarb).

So I will post again with news of the results.


  1. So does this mean you've got Varroa mites in your hive then?

    And do all hives have them as a matter of course?

    I'm wondering if there's a 'natural population', but then something happens which makes them a real threat to the hive.

    Excuse my ignorance - I'm learning along with you :)

  2. Yes, all colonies now have varroa. One could argue (and some do) that one should let nature take its course and then varroa resistant genes will prevail.

    But that means no honey.

    The other argument is that colonies that have some resistance should be encouraged so that their genes are encouraged.

    In answer to the second question - the colony can survive a small number of mites, but a large number would reduce the colony down to an unsustainable size.

    One must think "colony" not "bee" - which is quite a hard adjustment.

    The mites introduce viruses into the bee, which then cause wing deformities (for example).

    The crucial period is Jan-March when the bees that have survived from (say) November need to survive just a bit longer, until the queen starts laying again.

    Hope that makes sense, VP.

  3. To get an idea of the effect of a mite on a bee, imagine a large crab from the quayside in Brixham had just landed on your back and dug its claws in.

    It's now sucking your blood ....

    How do you feel? And then another one lands on your chest .....


  4. Thanks - I think I get the idea!

  5. they say sugar syrup with its pH=7 facilitates Varro infestation immensely, whereas honey, pH=3,2 suppressing the parasite. did you feed your bees?


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