Lesson 4: Varroa Mites

Someone asked me the other day, “Why do you have bees?” Many people have them to save pollinators, make honey, or make money. I think my reasoning is more the challenge of keeping them alive and healthy, the problem/solution aspect, the the possible prize at the end of the tunnel. 🍯

The main danger most honeybees face is varroa destructor, known as a varroa mite. If left unchecked, it can collapse a hive and spread to all others around it.

These parasitic mites reproduce in the comb of brood, mainly drone brood which have the longest time before they hatch.

They suck the fat bodies from the bees which can spread viruses like deformed wing virus.

Treatments

Bees are being bred for qualities that include being less susceptible to having heavy mite loads. In fact, bees have been found to carry one of two different traits: they will clean the mites off one another or go into cells with mites and clear them out. So far, there is not a bee bred that will do both, eliminating the problem of mites.

There are organic mite treatment options which are used. Formic Acid can be vaporized into the hive or used in mite away quick strips. Formic acid penetrates into the brood and kills the mites there. Oxalic acid can also be vaporized or dripped into the hive.

Did you know? One of the leading Varroa hygienic breeders is here at the University of Minnesota!

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