Testing New Varroa Mite Control Methods: Lessons for Australian Beekeepers

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Beekeeping is a delicate balance between tradition and innovation, and the willingness to experiment plays a crucial role in the success of any apiarist.

In this blog, we delve into the valuable insights shared in a video about experimentation in New Zealand beekeeping. The lessons gleaned from the Kiwi beekeeping community have significant implications for Australian beekeepers seeking to enhance hive management practices and Varroa control.

The Experimentation Conundrum:

Resistance to Experimentation:

  • One intriguing observation from our video with Dr Mark Goodwin is the challenge of convincing New Zealand beekeepers to experiment with their hives.
  • It appears that there may be a reluctance to embrace new varroa mite treatments or techniques without a pre-existing belief in their efficacy. This resistance poses a dilemma, especially when novel and potentially beneficial methods are available.

Autumn Varroa Mite Control:

  • The video highlights instances where beekeepers in New Zealand opt for organic varroa mite treatments but neglect to ensure their effectiveness during crucial times, such as the Autumn season.
  • This oversight can lead to severe consequences, including hive losses and financial setbacks. It serves as a cautionary tale for beekeepers globally, emphasising the need for strategic and well-timed Varroa control measures.

Implications for Australian Beekeepers:

Sampling as a Best Practice:

  • Australian beekeepers can adopt the lesson of meticulous sampling to assess the efficacy of treatments. Whether implementing a new organic treatment or experimenting with ventilated bottom boards, regular sampling of varroa mite levels is crucial to verify the treatment's impact on Varroa levels. This practice ensures that beekeepers can make informed decisions based on real-time hive conditions.

Trial Runs with Limited Hives:

  • The video underscores the significance of conducting trial runs on a small scale before scaling up any experimentation. Beekeepers in Australia can apply this principle to innovations like smart ventilated bottom boards. By testing the concept on a limited number of hives, they can evaluate its impact on Varroa control and other hive dynamics, minimising potential risks and financial losses.

Avoiding Mass Experimentation for Varroa Mite Control:

  • A key takeaway is the caution against experimenting with more hives than one is willing to lose.
  • This principle is especially pertinent for Australian beekeepers considering new treatments or hive management techniques. By limiting the scope of experimentation initially, beekeepers can mitigate risks and gradually incorporate successful strategies into larger-scale operations.


Experimentation is the heart of progress in beekeeping, and the lessons shared by New Zealand beekeepers offer valuable insights for their Australian counterparts.

The importance of belief-backed treatments, strategic Varroa control measures, meticulous sampling, and cautious experimentation all contribute to the overall success and sustainability of beekeeping practices.

As Australian beekeepers navigate the ever-evolving landscape of hive management, adopting a mindset of thoughtful experimentation will undoubtedly contribute to the resilience and prosperity of their apiaries.