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Methods and treatment to get rid of Varroa

Diagnosis and control of this unwanted parasitic population is the only viable solution for beekeepers to preserve colonies.

Varroa on bees

Varroosis screening

So far, it has not been possible to eradicate the varroa mite. Also, the beekeeper has learned to "cohabit" with this parasite. Of course, a colony of bees can survive a small population of varroa mites. It is therefore the beekeeper's responsibility to ensure that the number of varroa mites does not exceed the tolerance threshold of the bees.

A simplified screening method is to place a paper coated with vegetable oil at the base of the hive. After two or three days, we count the number of varroa found on the paper. For each dead varroa, the number of varroa present in the hive is estimated between 100 and 150. Usually, a colony can remain healthy with 2,500 mites. This test can also be done by soaking the sheet in formic acid. You can also use a varroa tester specially designed for this.

Afterwards, if intervention is needed, it is best to operate in early summer or just after harvest. The treatments can indeed damage the quality of the honey.

Physical means to fight against varroa

These methods consist of attracting the mites to a single frame of the hive, removing the frame in question and destroying it. For this, beekeepers set up a frame with drone cells, the preferred choice of female varroa for laying eggs.

When the cells are capped, the beekeeper will remove the frame and destroy it. To attract mites to a particular frame, you can use an attractant to spray on a non-sealed frame. Developed in the laboratory, however, this product is not easy to use. According to a Russian study, destroying the first frame when laying resumes removes many of the mites present. The use of heat against varroa mites is also an avenue exploited around the world. Since mites are not heat resistant, the challenge is to find the right temperature to kill varroa mites without actually killing bees.

Drug treatments to fight against varroasis

Since bees generate products for human consumption, the use of drug treatments should not be taken lightly. The beekeeper must therefore strictly adhere to the doses, application methods and other recommendations for the medication he intends to use.

Formic acid is commonly used because mites die on contact with it. The product should be handled with care, as it is possible that 5% of queens die during treatment. Other products based on tau-Fluvalinate, amitraze or thymol can be used. However, to prevent mites from developing resistance to a product, it is advisable to alternate the types of treatments. Since it is possible to find traces of these products in honey, it is best to use them only when necessary, taking into account the bee cycle.

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