Small Cell Size and Varroa Mite Control: Unpacking the Myths

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In the dynamic world of beekeeping, where constant innovation is essential for hive health, one term that often pops up in discussions about Varroa Mite control is "small cell size."

Beekeepers scouring the internet for varroa mite treatments and controls may come across claims that using foundation with small cell size can effectively combat Varroa mites.

In this blog, we delve into a video Ecrotek produced with honeybee scientise Dr Mark Goodwin that addresses this topic, exploring the implications for Australian beekeepers and urging caution in embracing purported solutions without thorough scrutiny.

The Small Brood Cell Size Theory in Varroa Mite Control:

The concept behind using a small cell size foundation revolves around the idea that Varroa mites struggle to reproduce effectively in cells of reduced dimensions, therefore impacting the lifecycle of the varroa mite.

Watch more on the life cycle of the varroa mite here:

The theory suggests that by shortening the capped period for Apis mellifera and Apis cerana, the Varroa mites' survival rates would decrease, subsequently helping to control their population within the hive.

The Reality of Small Cell Size Trials in Varroa Mite Control:

Despite the initial appeal of the small cell size theory, the video draws attention to the results of three sets of trials conducted in New Zealand and overseas. These trials, collectively representing a significant investment, failed to provide conclusive evidence supporting the effectiveness of small cell size in Varroa control. None of the trials could find any discernible impact on Varroa reproduction.

Lessons for Australian Beekeepers:

Caution in Embracing Internet Solutions for Varroa Mite Treatments in Australia:

  • Australian beekeepers are reminded of the importance of approaching internet-based solutions with caution. While the allure of a potential game-changing technique is enticing, it is crucial to temper enthusiasm with skepticism. The video underscores the need for thorough research and, if possible, conducting small-scale trials before investing significantly in unproven methods.

Cautious Experimentation:

  • The beekeeping community is no stranger to experimentation, a practice that drives innovation. However, Dr Mark Goodwin emphasises the importance of cautious experimentation.
  • Trying out small cell size on a limited number of hives (perhaps 10, as suggested) allows beekeepers to assess the practicality and effectiveness of the technique in their specific conditions.

Critical Evaluation of Trial Results:

  • The trials' inconclusive results prompt Australian beekeepers to critically evaluate purported Varroa control methods before widespread adoption. Instead of relying solely on internet claims or anecdotal evidence, beekeepers should seek empirical evidence from reputable sources or conduct their trials.


While small cell size may seem like a promising solution for Varroa control, Dr Mark Goodwin's insights caution against unfounded optimism.

Australian beekeepers are urged to approach such theories with a balanced perspective, combining curiosity with a healthy dose of skepticism.

As the search for effective Varroa control methods continues, the lessons learned from small cell size trials underscore the importance of evidence-based decision-making in sustaining healthy and thriving bee colonies.

See here effective varroa mite treatment options.