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    Back to the Basics

    Welcome to the Back to Basics Blog where we go over some of the basic steps a beekeeper should take in getting the most out of their hives.

    Beekeepers have reached the point where they have become prophylactic when it comes to treating for Varroa. We constantly hear "My hives have Varra Mites so I'm going to treat". It is great that you are ready and willing to treat but you need to know what the mite levels in your hives are. This is better than those in denial or wishful thinking who believe they are not impacted by mites.

    It is good practice to occasionally check your mite levels throughout the year to know how fast the infestation level is growing. Waiting until you pull off your honey supers in the fall can leave you surprised. Mite populations will grow rapidly with increase in brood rearing during nectar flow and may need to be knocked back before a critical treatment in the Fall.

    Assessing your mite levels before and after treatment will allow you to gauge if the treatment was a success. Varroa Mites have built up a resistance to some of the treatments on the market and continuous use of these treatments will have little to no impact on the mite population. Know that the treatment was effective.

    There are two widely used methods to assess the mite levels in your hive:


    Sticky Board: This involves a Corex Sheet which slides under a screened bottom board. Spray the corex sheet with cooking oil so when the mites fall from the hive they stick to the sheet and can then be counted. Insert the sheet for 3 days and then remove it to count the mites. Once you have a total, divide it by 3 to get the average mite drop in a 24 hour period.

    Sugar Shake: Place a few table spoons of powdered sugar in a mason jar and gently 'slosh' about 1/2 cup or 300 bees around in the Mason jar ensuring they are fully coated in sugar. Replace the lid with #8 hardwire cloth and the sugar will dislodge the mites allowing them to fall through the screen. Below is a very general guide to determine if the colony should be treated. However, the prevailing thought is if you have a window of opportunity to treat your colony you should treat.

    Corex Sheet: 5 - 10 mites in the Spring | 50 - 60 mites in the Fall

    Sugar Shake: 3 - 4 mites in the Spring | 10 - 12 mites in the Fall