Varroa Mite Australia: How to Reduce Varroa Mite Levels


As Varroa mites continue to pose a threat to beekeeping communities worldwide, it's crucial to adapt and evolve our strategies for effective control. In this insightful discussion, Dr. Mark Goodwin reflects on the experiences in New Zealand when Varroa arrived and the subsequent educational efforts for beekeepers. Let us delve into Dr. Goodwin's perspective on integrated control programs and the changing landscape of Varroa management.

The Shift to Integrated Control Programs:

When Varroa infiltrated New Zealand, the response was swift and comprehensive. Beekeepers engaged in two-day workshops across the country to learn about integrated control programs (IPM). Rather than relying solely on chemical treatments, IPM emphasizes a combination of methods, such as ventilated floorboards, drone trapping, and breeding for resistance. Dr. Goodwin underscores the effectiveness of blending various control measures, yielding a cumulative impact on Varroa populations.

Challenges and Resistance:

Whilst the program is effective, it can also be a challenge to maintain it, especially for hobbyists or beginner beekeepers. A simple directive to use specific chemical strips in spring and autumn could potentially achieve comparable results. However, the reality is that Varroa mites may develop a resistance to miticides, necessitating a return to the core principles of integrated control.

The Role of IPM in Australia:

Drawing parallels to an Australian audience, Dr. Goodwin emphasizes the relevance of IPM, especially given the expansive honey flows in the region. Unlike New Zealand, where specific directives could be followed, Australian beekeepers may find greater success in adopting a holistic IPM approach. This involves incorporating multiple strategies throughout the honey flow season, avoiding invasive methods while maintaining effective Varroa control.

Tailored Strategies for Australian Beekeepers:

Considering the prolonged honey flows in Australia, Dr. Goodwin proposes a tailored IPM approach. This may involve practices like ventilated floorboards, periodic drone trapping, selective breeding for resistance, and judicious use of organic treatments. Monitoring Varroa levels and making informed decisions during the honey flow can contribute to a more sustainable and effective Varroa management plan for Australian beekeepers.

In Summary:

  • Mark Goodwin's journey in Varroa management offers valuable insights for beekeepers globally.
  • Integrated control programs provide a holistic and sustainable approach to Varroa management.
  • Australian beekeepers may benefit from a customized IPM strategy, considering the unique challenges posed by prolonged honey flows.

As we navigate the complex landscape of Varroa mite control, let us remain vigilant, adaptive, and committed to the well-being of our precious bee colonies.


Up Next: Navigating the Varroa Challenge: Lessons and Implications for Australian Beekeeping