The Varroa mite is a parasite of the honeybee. Being a mite it is not an insect; it has eight legs and is a member of the spider family. As parasites go, Varroa mites are quite large in comparison to the host – about the size of a pin head and quite easily visible to the naked eye. If humans had a parasite the same relative size of Varroa it would be about the size of a saucer. The mites have a reddish brown, leathery shell and from above they look a bit like a crab but without the pincers. Continue reading Varroa – the Basics
When the shortest day is upon us there is a brief broodless period in the honeybee colony. This is the time conditions are right for oxalic acid treatment. There are two reasons for this:
- When a colony is broodless, all the Varroa are at their most vulnerable out there in the open, either on the bees or creeping about on the comb – Varroa are protected from the effects of oxalic acid when they still inside the cells of the brood nest;
- Oxalic acid can damage open brood so these effects are minimal when there are no or few larvae.
On December 9th 2013 the bees were flying quite strongly and still working the last of the ivy and the Mahonia but there has been little activity since then. Any eggs laid during that spell of mild weather will have hatched by the end of December so that might be the best time to treat.
The following methods can be used during any broodless period, even in the middle of summer, but supers need to be removed. Click here for more about summer oxalic acid treatment. Continue reading Winter Oxalic Acid Varroa Treatment
The bees were very active over the weekend in the unseasonably mild weather. It is nice to see them so busy on the Mahonia and the late ivy, which is still in bloom here, but it is possible that it could scupper our hopes of a successful midwinter mite-cull. The bees will be bringing in nectar and little packets of fresh pollen which could get the queen laying. Should this occur then sealed midwinter brood would act as a refuge for Varroa and when we come along with our oxalic acid in a couple of weeks time they will be safely tucked away and the effects of the treatment will be minimal. Continue reading Weather Warming Warning