Managing Varroa Mites in Honey Bee Hives

  • 2 min read

Managing Varroa Mites in Honey Bee Hives

When it comes to bee’s worst enemy, varroa, immediate action is important. The earlier you find and treat a mite infestation, the easier it is to control them and prevent their spread to other hives.

For Aussies who have never dealt with varroa before, it can be difficult to detect these pesky little creatures when doing a regular hive check, especially when the mite population is low, showing very few symptoms. However, as it increases, serious signs of infestation will be easily seen. Here are some factors you need to look out for in your hive:

  • Spotting brown or reddish spots on the white larvae.
  • Badly deformed bees. Newly emerged bees may havestunted abdomens and deformed wings.
  • Adult bees have varroa behind their head or abdominal segments.
  • Colony suddenly dying.

If you suspect there’s a varroa infestation in your hive or colony, confirm your diagnosis using various detection techniques.

Common infection sources

  • Bee Drift – Bees returning to a neighboring hive. Trials have found labelled bees in hives up to 5km away.
  • Swarms and splits – This can spread phoretic and varroa in the reproductive stage.
  • Transport or dump sites – Disorientated bees will sometimes return to the wrong hive. This can be an issue for large hive movements such as pollination or apiaries in close proximity.
  • Lost bees or left behind bees – such as when hives are moved during the day and the foragers then return to neighboring hives.
  • Shuffling brood frames - weather your balancing brood between hives or moving honey stores you may also be moving infected bees or comb.
  • Robbing – Bees that come into a hive to rob may also leave varroa behind. This Is believed to be the highest risk activity and how most varroa is spread. Aim to decrease this risk by limiting open sugar or pollen feeding and decreasing entrances on weak hives.

Please see our current Varroa products here

Varroa Mite Series
Learn more about Varroa Mites in our special 4-part series.

Part 2:  Varroa surveillance planning

Part 3: Varroa surveillance tools and techniques

Part 4: Why record keeping is crucial for varroa mite surveillance