Infestation monitoring: the foundations of any successful control strategy
Infestation monitoring allows you to be aware of the varroa pressure in your apiary and, therefore, to take the most appropriate management decisions depending on the situation in your hives (immediate treatment or not, mechanical means to reduce parasite pressure,…).
Following a treatment, it also allows you to calculate / check the treatment efficacy and estimate whether a complementary treatment may be necessary or not.
Knowing the level of varroa mites present in your hives will help you to make the right treatment decisions, and thus avoid your colonies entering winter with too high of an infestation pressure (increased risk of winter mortality and weaker colonies in the spring).
When to monitor the infestation?
Monitoring should take place at least three times a year.
In early spring, after the last honey flow (before application of the main treatment) and at the end of the treatment (autumn) to assess its efficacy and to know the level of infestation after treatment.
A fourth control can be carried out in brood-free colonies before wintering (November).
Why monitor in time?
Evaluation and monitoring of the varroa mite population is the basis of an integrated pest management strategy.
The longer one waits to confirm the level of mite infestation, the higher the risk. A delay in treatment can reduce the chances of a colony surviving the winter and contribute to the spread of Varroa mites to other colonies.1
Is monitoring cost-effective?
Although monitoring infestation can sometimes be time-consuming, the information obtained is well worth the effort.
Avoiding the cost of replacing dead colonies, the loss of honey production (-11lbs per hive on average!2) and the unavailability of colonies for pollination, queen production or swarming are compelling reasons to monitor infestation levels throughout the year.
Infestation monitoring helps to identify variations in infestation from one year to the next, and from one hive to the other, and thus helps to optimize and make its control actions more profitable.
Which monitoring method to choose?
Three main methods are suggested for monitoring mite infestation: alcohol wash, sugar roll and CO2 injection.
Other methods are available, such as monitoring natural mite fall on the sticky boards, and uncapping male brood, but may be more time-consuming or give results more difficult to interpret.
In any case, it is best to choose the method you are most comfortable, enabling consistency in monitoring your hives.
Monitoring infestation with a less reliable method is better than no monitoring at all. When it comes to monitoring infestations, the rule “better done than perfect” applies.
Very complete PowerPoint presentation on infestation monitoring (why and how to do it?) and on the Varroa EasyCheck 3 in 1 tool.
Deformed Wing Virus (DWV-B): the deadly variant threatening honey bees globally
Deformed Wing Virus (DWV) and its spread around the globe is the focus of a recent publication by Professor Robert Paxton and colleagues from the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany.
Monitoring for varroa: determining the level of infestation, and using the results to aid in control
The effective recognized monitoring methods, alcohol washes and powdered sugar rolls, utilize a sample of approximately one-half cup of honey bees by volume. The purpose of both of these methods is to separate the mites from the bees in the sample, enabling the tester to count them and estimate the infestation rate in the colony.
Varroa EasyCheck: now available in a “3 in 1” version
Varroa EasyCheck was developed by Véto-pharma in 2016 to provide an accurate estimation of the mite infestation levels in a hive with the alcohol wash method. Recent investigations in our apiary showed that the Varroa EasyCheck can be used equally with the sugar roll and CO2 injection methods as well.
Varroa infestation: why we must monitor hives BEFORE treatment
Varroa monitoring before the end of summer treatment is probably the most overlooked task performed by a beekeeper. Knowing pre-treatment mite loads will provide you with information as to what to expect from your mite treatment.
Controlling varroa infestation remains a priority in spring !
Varroa infestations may be very different from one beehive to another and from one year to the next. A varroa control strategy must be devised on a case-by-case basis and deployed right from the beginning of the season. Click on the article to learn more about it.
Video: check varroa mite levels in a few simple moves
Varroa mites plague nearly all honeybee colonies. Regular monitoring is key so as to know when to treat and how efficient has been your treatment. To help beekeepers check their hives more easily and accurately, Véto-pharma introduced “Varroa EasyCheck” 3 years ago.
According to a survey conducted each year in Eastern France, the later the treatment is applied, the higher the winter losses. Study conducted in 2020 on more than 29,000 hives.
2- Maisonnasse et al, 2014 – Study carried out by INRA (France) between 2009 and 2012 on 552 hives. Average of 5kg [11lbs] (up to 13kg, or 28lbs, per year) on a lavender honeyflow.
Copyright image banner
© Camilius Lay