Exploring Drone or Brood Trapping: An Alternative Method for Varroa Control

Watch video here:


Beekeeping is a delicate balance of managing the health of the colony while controlling pests like the notorious Varroa mite. In this pursuit, innovative methods are continually being explored. One such method gaining attention is drone trapping. Although not widely adopted, its potential benefits and drawbacks warrant consideration, especially as resistance to conventional treatments becomes a concern.

Understanding Drone / Brood Trapping:

Varroa mites exhibit a preference for breeding in drone broods rather than worker broods. European studies have suggested that by using drone trapping, beekeepers can potentially achieve effective Varroa control. The method involves inserting a frame of drone brood into the hive, allowing the queen to lay eggs in it. Once the brood is sealed, beekeepers remove the frame, freeze it to terminate the brood, tap it to release any remaining Varroa mites, and repeat the process.

Pros and Cons of Drone Trapping:


  1. Targeted Varroa Control: Since Varroa prefers drone brood, drone trapping focuses on the mites' preferred breeding ground, providing a more targeted approach.
  2. Reduced Chemical Dependency: Drone trapping offers an alternative to synthetic strips and chemical treatments, potentially reducing the dependence on conventional methods.
  3. Inexpensive: This method is relatively low-cost compared to chemical treatments, making it appealing to beekeepers with budget constraints.


  1. Labor-Intensive: Drone trapping demands considerable effort and time. Beekeepers must repeatedly insert, remove, and process frames, which can be labor-intensive.
  2. Disruption to Colonies: Frequent removal of drone brood can disrupt the natural rhythm of the colony and may affect its overall productivity.
  3. Limited Adoption: The method is not widely adopted, possibly due to the convenience and efficiency of other treatments.

Implications for Australian Beekeepers:

While drone trapping may not be prevalent in other nearby regions like New Zealand, Australian beekeepers may find its potential benefits intriguing. Australia, facing its own challenges with Varroa detection, could consider alternative methods like drone trapping, especially as resistance to traditional treatments becomes a growing concern. The method's success may depend on factors such as climate, hive health, and beekeeping practices unique to the region.


Drone trapping presents itself as a unique approach to Varroa control, showcasing the innovative spirit within the beekeeping community. As the threat of Varroa evolves and resistance to conventional treatments emerges, alternative methods like drone trapping may gain renewed attention. Australian beekeepers, in their pursuit of sustainable and effective Varroa control, might find this method worth exploring, acknowledging its pros and cons in the context of their local conditions.