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Varroa Control

The Varroa mite can be found in the vast majority of honey bee colonies and beekeepers should use an Integrated Pest Management programme to manage varroa levels. 

By using a combination of treatments at the right time of year, a very effective level of mite control can be achieved.

The Varroa Destructor mite

An Integrated Approach to Controlling Varroa

What are we aiming for?

An integrated strategy is guided by three principles:

  • Methods used should aim to control mite levels,  not eradicate them.
  • Mite levels below the treatment threshold should not be controlled.
  • Chemical treatments should be the last method used,  not the first.

How can we achieve this?

  • Monitor mite levels regularly throughout the season – Worksheet 2 describes methods of measurement.
  • Determine if treatment is needed – Worksheet 3 and Worksheet 4 give the treatment thresholds for each time of the year.
  • Use one or more if these methods if treatment is indicated.
TreatmentTime of YearEffectivenessWorksheet
Open Mesh FloorsAll year10% - 20%Worksheet 11
Drone Brood CullingApril to JulyUp to 50%Worksheet 14
Artificial SwarmingMay to JulyFigures not available but considered to be very effectiveWorksheet 15
Queen CagingMid-May to Mid-JulyUp to 95%Worksheet 17
ApiguardMid-July to September74% to 99% - temperature dependentWorksheet 13

APHA and the NBU has produced an excellent booklet on “Managing Varroa.” There is also a short best practice factsheet available that summarises a management approach to Varroa. NBU data sheets can be downloaded from here.