Varroa Mite IPM
Meet the Varroa Mite
The varroa mite, Varroa destructor, is an external parasite that attacks adult and immature stages (brood) of honey bees. These mites weaken bees and can transmit viruses during the feeding process.
Common signs of mite damage include:
- Open or damaged pupal cells
- Holes in pupal cappings
- Emerging adult bees with deformed or missing wings
- Visible mites on bees/brood
Unmonitored and untreated infestations of varroa mites can result in colony death. Colonies should be routinely monitored so informed management decisions can be made about population levels, treatment methods, and efficacy.
To obtain the best results, incorporate a range of the chemical and cultural integrated pest management (IPM) methods listed in this brochure.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Options for Varroa Mites
|Name||Active Ingredient [Chemical Class]||Mode of Action||Application Material||Application Season & Temperature Guidelines||Treatment Duration||Keep Honey Super On?||Notes|
|Apivar®||amitraz [amidine]||contact||plastic strip||Spring, Fall||42-56 days||no||honey supers put on 14 days after strip removal|
|Apistan®||tau-fluvalinate [pyrethroid]||contact||plastic strip||Spring, Fall [>50°F]||42-56 days||no||mite resistance shown; honey supers put on after strip removal|
|CheckMite+®||coumaphos [organophosphate]||contact||plastic strip||Spring, Summer, Fall||42-45 days||no||mite resistance shown; do not use for queen-producing colonies|
|Apiguard®||thymol||fumigant||gel or gel tray||Spring, Fall [60°F to 105°F]||28-42 days||no||restricted entry interval (REI) of 48 hrs; honey supers put on after gel removal|
|Api Life Var®||thymol, menthol, eucalyptus oil||fumigant||tablet||Spring, Summer, Fall [64°F to 95°F]||26-32 days||no||honey supers put on 30 days after tablet removal|
|Mite-Away Quick Strips® (MAQS)||formic acid||fumigant||gel strip||Spring, Summer, Fall [50°F to 85°F]||7 days or 21 days||yes||penetrates wax cappings; check queen vitality after treatment|
|Formic Pro®||formic acid||fumigant||gel strip||Spring, Summer, Fall [50°F to 85°F]||14 days or 20 days||yes||penetrates wax cappings; check queen vitality after treatment|
|Oxalic Acid||oxalic acid dihydrate||contact, fumigant||vapor or liquid||Spring, Fall||varies by application type||no||most effective when broodless|
|HopGuard®II||potassium salt of hops beta acids||contact||cardboard strip||Spring, Summer, Fall||30 days||yes||most effective when broodless|
|Screen Bottom Board||cultural, non-chemical options for management||varies depending on management type||Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter||all year||yes||check mite drop for effectiveness|
|Drone Brood Trapping/Removal||Spring, Summer, Fall||14-20 days||yes||remove comb/open drone cells before emergence|
|Brood Interruption||Spring, Summer||14-20 days||yes||split hive or allow to swarm; but capture swarm|
|Re-Queen/Cage Queen||Spring, Summer||28 days||yes||select mite resistant stock when available|
Ten Steps to Doing an Alcohol Mite Wash
- ½ cup measuring device
- ½ cup 70% rubbing alcohol
- Mite wash jar
- Inspect honey bee colony to remove a single frame that contains open brood and adult bees. Make sure the queen is not on the frame.
- Shake worker bees from this frame into the dishpan.
- Quickly scoop ½ cup of worker bees (~ 300 bees) from the dishpan and put into provided mite wash jar filled halfway with 70% alcohol.
- Shake leftover live bees from the dishpan back into the hive.
- Put the solid and mesh lids on jar and tightly seal.
- Shake jar vigorously for 1–2 minutes to dislodge mites from submerged bees. Let jar sit for a few minutes to let mites dislodge.
- Remove solid lid from jar, leaving mesh lid, and tightly seal.
- Pour the mixture of dead bees, mites, and alcohol through the mesh lid over the empty dishpan to remove the mites and alcohol. Vigorously shake jar contents while pouring to ensure mites are dislodged.
- Sift through the liquid debris to count the total mites. If the total number of mites ranges from 3 to 9, consider treatment options.
- Discard bees. Alcohol can be reused if mites are removed. Wash all reusable materials after use.
Publication produced by the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) and Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry (MDACF), funded by the Northeastern IPM Center through grant #2014-70006-22484 from the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Crop Protection and Pest Management, Regional Coordination Program, and reprinted with permission from the Northeastern IPM Center.