Varroa mites are some of the most serious threats to a honey bee colony. When these mites infect a colony, they attach themselves to honey bees and feed on their blood. This weakens the honey bees’ immune systems and makes the entire colony more prone to diseases. Additionally, varroa mites target brood cells, stealing brood food, infecting newborn bees, and creating a prime place to quickly reproduce. It’s important to treat varroa mites as quickly as possible to minimize damage and keep your colony strong. To help out you and your honey bees, we’ve created a guide on how to get rid of varroa mites in your bee hive.
Varroa mites infiltrate the inside of a hive, which means your treatment method must be safe for your honey bees. You also want treatments that won’t affect the products you want to harvest from the hive, such as honey or wax. As such, some of the most popular varroa mite treatments are organic chemicals or products such as formic acid or hop beta acids. Some beekeepers use essential oils such as thymol to control varroa mite populations. Thymol, eucalyptus oil, and menthol are all active ingredients in Api Life Var, an alternative mite control product.
Synthetic chemicals and miticides are also options when you’re facing a varroa mite infestation. Amitraz, found in the Apivar application, is an effective synthetic treatment. However, scientists have documented cases of varroa mites developing resistance to chemical treatment options. These synthetic chemicals can also leave a residue in honey and other hive products, meaning you’ll have to remove any honey you want to sell or consume before using these treatments.
One of the best tips for how to get rid of varroa mites in your bee hive is to combine multiple treatment and control methods. In addition to the above applications, beekeepers can use traps and a few other options. You can add a special drone comb to the hive to lure varroa mites, who prefer to infiltrate drone brood cells. The mites will gather in this frame of drone cells, and you can then remove the frame, freeze it to kill the mites, and replace it in the hive for the process to begin again. Many beekeepers also replace their hives’ bottom boards with screened boards that will let varroa mites fall out of the hive when honey bees groom themselves.
Finding and treating varroa mites requires a keen eye, dedication to your honey bees, and the right tools for the job. Mann Lake wants to help you along the way! From varroa mite treatment and testing kits to the basic bee hive supplies you need to keep your colony safe, we’re here to support you and your beloved honey bees.