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

Organic varroa mite control

Varroa miteVarroa mites are the worst pests affecting honeybees in our area.  In fact, most beekeepers around here will tell you that you can't keep hives without using chemical treatment for mites --- they put in chemical strips religiously every fall to kill off the arachnids.

Of course, telling me I can't do something is like waving a red flag in front of a bull*, so I'm bound and determined to prove my friends wrong.  If you need a more scientific reason to forego the chemicals, you should also be aware that beekeepers are overtreating and the mites are developing a tolerance to the chemical.

One of the causes of our varroa mite epidemic is the foundation most beekeepers fill their frames with.  Foundation is a thin sheet of beeswax imprinted with hexagons to show the bees where to build their comb.  The foundation does a good job of keeping the bees from building crooked combs, but the width of the store-bought hexagons is significantly larger than the width of hexagons bees would build by themselves with no foundation.  The larger cells give the varroa mites lots of room to slip down into the cells with bee larvae and suck them dry, but beekeepers put up with it because the larvae that do survive tend to be bigger and are able to produce more honey.  So what's the solution?

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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