The Bee Space

Dealing With Varroa Mites In Warre Beehives


Marika left this comment on “Thoughts On Varroa Mites”

Hi Nick,

1 question I have re: dealing with varroa mites- with Langs you have a sticky board so you can check on mites – I am wondering how you keep tabs of varroa mite with a Warre hive, and from what I am reading it seems as though one leaves it to nature and are not doing anything to get the mites to drop off the bees, onto a sticky board, etc. Is this correct? and how do you look out for mites and what do you suggest beekeeper w/Warre hive do to keep an eye on those pesky mites?

Many thanks!

You can get a sticky board and put it on the floor under your bottom hive box. Do a 24 hour test on your Warre Hive. Count your mite drop after that time is up. If you have less than 25-35 or even 40 mites, your hive is fine. David Heaf in Wales has reported mite counts higher on some of his healthy hives. Could it be that that the Warre Hive allows the bees to sustain higher mite loads without a problem? The jury is still out on that one…

If you have a high mite drop (55-65 mites or more) during the 24 hour period, you have two choices. You can leave the hive alone and hope it does alright on its own (which it may), or you can pursue a natural treatment of some sort.

You can try treating with essential oils like spearmint or lemongrass alone, or mix the essential oils with canola or vegetable oil. The theory is that the oils cover the bees and as they clean, they will spread the oils all over the beehive. Apparently the oils cause the mites to fall off, or as the bees clean themselves, they knock the mites off.

Many beekeepers have had good success with powdered sugar

I am also experimenting with essential oils for mite control. I have not encountered a bad mite problem in my hives yet, for which I am grateful! 🙂 If I did need to treat for mites, I would probably use powdered sugar.

Many beekeepers have had good success with powdered sugar over the years. I know of several folks who swear by it, and it does seem to be a viable solution. Application is as follows: the beekeeper dusts the whole hive with a liberal application of powdered sugar. As the bees clean themselves, they remove the varroa mites as well.

On a last note, don’t just copy my example without researching the various treatments available. You need to make the choice for yourself. Be an informed beekeeper. Make decisions based on your own research, not just on hearsay. Be able to stand up and say why you do what you do.

With a little research into various treatments, and a little mite drop testing from time to time on your own hives, you will be able to develop your own Varroa Mite solution. Of course, you may be one of those lucky beekeepers who never has a problem with Varroa. You would be the envy of us all. 🙂