The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

New method of varroa mite control

Varroa mite on a honeybeeRemember how we're experimenting with foundationless frames to control varroa mites in our honeybee hives?  Traditional beekeepers put chemicals in the hive every fall to control the mites, but even the chemicals seem to be failing.

The USDA Agricultural Research Service has discovered what may become a solution to the varroa mite problem.  Since varroa mites find their hosts by smell, the scientists impregnated sticky paper with bee odors.  35 to 50% of mites in a hive with this sticky paper let go of their host bees and head to the paper, where the mites get stuck and die.  The product is still in the testing stages, though so far the honeybees seem unconcerned by the impregnated paper.

To read more about the study, check out this quick summary in Scientific American or this longer version on the ARS's website.

I'm simplifying here.  The "smells" are not necessarily smells --- they might be more like pheremones.  The scientists call them semiochemicals, which just means a chemical that carries a message.

Read other posts about foundationless frames and varroa mites:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I am very interested in this new treatment for varroa. I have three hives and going into my second winter. Never have treated, numbers are minimal. Hoping the bees are hygienic.
Comment by Liz Daley Wed Nov 10 12:43:29 2010
Unfortunately, I haven't read anything new about this line of defense --- it could be years before it hits the consumer market. But we've had really good luck with never treating and just using the foundationless frame method combined with a screened bottom board. We do run sticky board tests in the fall to make sure the mites are at an okay level, and so far, the hives have passed. If you're at all concerned, you might consider a test just to ease your worries.
Comment by anna Wed Nov 10 16:37:38 2010

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